Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

Today’s great post is from Josh Kopelman and is titled I Don’t KnowIn it he describes two meetings and explains the key importance of founder credibility – and why the founder in the second meeting had much more credibility than the one in the first.  Oh – and he nudges all of his know-it-all VC colleagues also.

  • Craig

    I think a corollary to this idea is that it's ok to admit that your competition is good. I can't tell you how many times I've met with CEOs of competing companies, and listened to both of them tell me how bad the other one is. It's much more impressive to me if a CEO acknowledges the strengths, as well as the weaknesses of his/her competitors, and can explain how they will compete. It shows maturity, and a deeper understanding of the market.

    • Mark Von Der Linn

      In many cases it boils down to arrogance, I think. It's a blinding thing. If you think you know it all and are doing everything right, why should you change? From the music industry to travel, executives fail to adapt due to their own arrogance. They have and will continue to pay the price. __ In other cases, I agree that it's a matter of insecurity and not wanting to appear unprepared or “weak”, as commented on the original post.

  • Mark Von Der Linn

    This post really resonates with me. This misconception that some leaders have about needing to have all the answers can be a problem at all stages of a business' development. I just left a 2-year old start-up that is failing largely for this very reason. The principal there believes he has the answer for everything, thereby precluding the opportunity to find the right answer when the one he comes up with is incorrect (i.e., someone has to say “I don't know” in order for a problem solving session to ensue). Make this mistake enough and you're done. His company probably is. …Humility is the leader’s greatest asset.

  • The key is admitting what you don’t know and not bluffing, assuming, or guessing. I wrote about this in my blog post Do you know what you don’t know?