90/10 Rule for Mentor Dating

I attended a great Jumpstart Foundry event this evening at the gorgeous new Entrepreneur Center (which is amazing, by the way). I want now to take a moment to offer up a bit of advice to the startups in this years cohort – and for that matter, for startups everywhere. I had a big problem tonight speaking with the startups, and it was not until I was at home and cleaning up for the night that I figured it out – they tried to make me go all the way.

Detail — it is not my job to help you, it is something that I want to do and therefor I do it for free. But here is the thing, you have to want it more than I do. You see, I am a sucker for a great startup. I found myself rushing around trying to make sure I spoke to 3-4 of the different companies and made sure that I offered to make introductions, offer advice and to provide tidbits of information that might spark a meaningful thought and/or conversation. And even though they are already more than a month into the program, they did not follow the magical 90/10 rule from the movie hitch (video below).

The 90/10 rule, if you recall, is this: When you are out on a date with a girl, and you get the signal that it’s ok to give her a kiss, you don’t swing in and go 100% of the way to the lips. No. You go 90% of the way and wait, and let her come the last 10%. In my startup meetings tonight, that was not the case unfortunately. I felt like I was the one trying to convince the startup to pick me! I sought them out. I sparked the conversation. I barged in to meetings. I connected the dots between the ideas I was presenting and their business. I knew about them, and even though some had already connected with me on LinkedIn and had setup meetings with me digitally, they knew nothing about me.

Startups are hard, no doubt. They take a lot of effort, time and brain power. But founders – do NOT make your mentors, your customers or anyone else for that matter do 100% of the work. Just like that magical moment when you are green-lighted by the man/woman of your dreams to go in for the kiss the first time – make your mentors (or your customers) want to go the last 10%. Trust me, you want them to want you back.