The Most Important Rule Still Matters

Business experts have no shortage of rules and axioms to help make you and your company successful, but I continue to find that following the most basic rule of all will still consistently allow you to stand out from the crowd. The Golden Rule: simply treat others the way that you’d like to be treated.

You’d think that in 2023, in such a competitive world, especially at the highest levels of finance and industry, this would be required, or at the very least, the norm. But you’d be wrong.

My current hot-button example of this is “ghosting,” specifically, not following up with or responding to people with whom you have a pre-existing or ongoing relationship, particularly when that person is really putting themselves out there. I’m not talking about unsolicited spam here. 

Ask any founder or VC that has gone through a fundraise or any candidate that has gone through a job search, and the most common complaint is universal – “What is with all the ghosting?” We all expect to hear “no” a lot. A quick and transparent “no” is universally welcomed and respected. As VCs, we tell founders “no” all the time and it is received graciously  99%+ of the time.

Everyone knows this (I think?). So what is with all the bad behavior?

I think it just comes down to a lack of empathy. A lack of empathy by founders and companies for employees who are trying every angle to land a job to support their families. A lack of empathy by VCs for founders who are risking everything and grinding to make payroll. A lack of empathy among LPs for GPs who are similarly hustling and putting their reputations on the line daily. In my subjective opinion, if you as a founder or investor don’t have enough respect and even admiration for the employees or principals in your world to promptly follow up and close the loop, you should probably look for another line of work.

As much as I wish for a business world with greater respect and empathy, I know that is unlikely to happen. So here’s the silver lining – this is a massive opportunity for you and me. I don’t care what industry you’re in or what job you have, if you simply follow the Golden Rule with consistency you will be in the top 20% and stand out from your peers.

At Range, we’ve taken this to heart. We deliver “no”s quickly, transparently, and with compassion. Founders appreciate this and tell us that this is rare among investors. If that’s true, we’ll plan on being the exception for as long as we have the chance to build relationships with founders within and beyond our portfolio.

Next time you’re ghosted, instead of bemoaning the failings of humanity, just remember that this type of behavior is what creates your slam-dunk opportunity to shine!

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