Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pucker Up And Kiss Some Ass - Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

People often ask me:
"Paul, do I need to do a lot of VC ass kissing to get their attention?"
Yes. You will need to kiss a lot of VC ass to get your company funded, and to get the attention that you deserve.

If you thought you were becoming an entrepreneur so that you would never have to kiss ass again, then you were doing it for the wrong reason. Everyone has a boss, no matter what you're doing, and no matter how successful you've been. If you're an entrepreneur or CEO, your bosses are often your VCs, your board of directors or maybe even your shareholders.

When you're kissing ass, here are a few tips:
  • Be Sincere. If you're lying through your teeth, and can't find anything nice to say about a VC (or any other person for that matter) and also mean it, then don't say it at all. 
  • Don't Overdo It. It's important to do this in moderation. Too much flattery can come off as insincere. 
  • Swallow Your Pride. If you're sucking up, but doing it grudgingly and hating every minute of it, then that will shine through. Fix your attitude first before you try doing any ass kissing.
  • Make It Personal. Take note of the small things that a VC or customer might be doing right, and run with that. Show them that you noticed and that you appreciate it. Try to avoid very general and impersonal flattery. 

There is absolutely no reason to see any of this as a negative. Use flattery and ego to your advantage. VCs, like virtually everyone else on this planet, are frail, emotional human beings with egos that need stroking every once in a while. If you manage to kiss ass effectively, they will be far more tuned in to what you're saying. Keep in mind that VCs like to invest in companies where they think they can add value. Show them how great of a partner they would be, and why - don't be afraid to point why you would love to work with them.

But take solace in the fact that you're not alone. VCs have to suck up as well, to their limited partners (LPs) - the people whose money they are managing. In that case, VCs have to kiss ass over the length of a 10+ year relationship. Now that's ominous, so be thankful that, as an entrepreneur, you only have to worry about a single transaction. 

The reality is that flattery and ass kissing work not only for getting VC funding, but apply to your relationships with customers as well. Everything is a sale in life, whether you're selling your product, selling your company, or selling yourself. Everything is a sale. Flattery is a very effective tool in your sales arsenal, to be used carefully and methodically. So pucker up, kiss some ass, and the rewards will follow.

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