Helping out

I recently met with an entrepreneur who was introduced to me by a trusted friend. Although it wasn’t included in the introductory email, I assumed that the entrepreneur was looking for funding and that the meeting would take the form of a pitch.

To my surprise, a few minutes into our conversation, the entrepreneur shared that he had already closed his seed round a month ago and that he wouldn’t be looking for money for the next 18 months.

At first, I felt disappointed. I was impressed with the first few minutes of our conversation and would have liked to carry it forward from an investment perspective.

However, after a quick second thought, I realized that when one opportunity closes, another opens. We may not be able to evaluate the investment now, but may do so in the future. We’re also likely to run into each other in another context. As a result of this thought, rather than conclude the conversation, I decided to be as useful as I could to the entrepreneur. I made two connections for him, one with a potential customer and the other with a potential business partner.

Although my initial motivation for helping out was based on the split second reminder that “what goes around comes around”, and the resulting benefits which may accrue in the future, I discovered that helping out also brings an immediate benefit. It makes you feel good.

In other words, helping out has intrinsic value even if no extrinsic benefits arise. In a heavily transactional world, it can be easy to forget this. This experience was a great reminder for me.

Also published on Medium.