Flakiness is next to Crappiness
It’s been a while since I wrote a good old fashioned “Stay Classy” post so let’s saddle up.
In a previous post I dealt with flakiness in general. I think I covered things pretty good (thanks to Shannon for reminding me that I wrote that a long time ago. As you may have noticed, I tend to write posts that are fuelled by recent events in my life. I use the blog to take a perspective where I am able to step outside of myself and get clarity on the issue to share it with you fine folks. That’s why you will notice a good number of my posts beginning with something to the effect “I’ve noticed recently” or “lately this has been on my mind.” They “stay classy” category is basically the “how to be a modern gentleman” portion of my blog (on in more plain terms: “how not to be a dick”)
post rant is dedicated to the issue of flakes in the life of an already busy person. Lately i’ve been meeting a lot of them, and I’m sure many of you can relate.
To all the arrogant little bastards in the startup space who ask for advice, introductions, or feedback from busy entrepreneurs or investors: Time is a valuable commodity, don’t fucking waste it when it’s not yours to waste.
You want that introduction to (insert big name VC here) or want advice on your half-baked startup idea with no business model? Are you out on the lean-startup validation trail, asking for feedback? Hell, you want to DATE that busy CEO? Then get it through your head that the very fact that they took time out of their schedule to have coffee or break bread with you, is precious time they could be using on any number of things like tending to their own business, being a rock for all the people they employ who depend on them to steer the ship through unfriendly waters, spending time with their loved ones, or changing the world.
If you managed to weasel some time from that person you want something from – and let’s be honest, you just want something from them – my god, you better make damned sure that you show up on time, listen, and follow up. You want that person to stick his neck out for you with an intro? Fat chance if you’re a flake.
To say it simply; there’s nothing worse than a flake. I hate, hate, HATE flakes. On the list of disrespectful things one person can do another, being a flake would be pretty high on that list. Flaking out is a combination of unreliability, lying, double-dipping and just plain rudeness. I would like to officially upgrade flakiness from a pet-peeve to a full on resentment.
Dale Carnegie, author of one of my new all-time favourite books “How to Win Friends and Influence People” writes:
People may forget what you say, but they never forget the way you make them feel.
If you are a flaky person and you’re reading this, put yourself in the shoes of the people you are letting down with your flakiness. How do you think they feel? Pretty rotten, to be sure. Imagine someone honoring you with an invite to spend more time with them: they are telling you between the lines that they like you and respect you. At that point you have 2 choices: either say yes, or no. Maybe is the hallmark of the flake. Maybe almost always means “no” but the sick part is that it carries false hope and sends the message “you’re not important enough to me to be honest with you.” And if you say “yes” then you better follow through.
Would you tell your boss or team that “maybe” you will show up at 9am? Nope. That’s a one way ticket to a pink slip. If you are going to miss a day of work you always send notice to show you’re still reliable. You want to be respected at work, so you show that you are respectable. People generally dislike the guy who rolls in late and doesn’t deliver on his promises. It’s not only because he’s letting the team down, it’s also because it conveys arrogance.
Many people have a small circle of friends that they call their best friends. While there are 101 things that make a person a close friend (i.e. s/he just gets me) the one thing that’s common is that they are people you can count on to be there for you. In fact that was probably the main reason you became so close in the first place; they just kept showing face. Think about it.
I feel dirty when I make an excuse. Really. If you find that you’re making the same old excuses or, even worse, using your creativity to come up with new ones constantly then, I hate to break this to you: you’re a flake. What’s more is that I can guarantee you that the people you know think you’re a flake too. People get busy, especially entrepreneurs, but it’s not an excuse. If you’re sitting across the table from one or pitching to an investor, know that they have shown you a great deal of respect in listening to you. They have so much on their plates, and you are not the main course by a long shot, yet there they sit.
Show some respect in return and take a genuine interest in them.
You want friends? Be one.
(For those of you who want to get some facetime with some quality people for advice on your startup, try out Dan Martell’s Clarity.fm)