Talent is God-given, be humble; fame is man-given, be thankful; conceit is self-given, be careful. – John Wooden, former UCLA Basketball Coach and Legend
The practice of investing (and seeking investment) in the beverage space is a constant game of strategic interviewing. No decision is more important for an entrepreneur than who she will take as her first investor, and for investors it’s the question of to whom they will allocate limited funds and who they will be able to trust and enjoy spending time with in countless board meetings and financial reviews.
No matter what side you’re on, it’s critical to map out what qualities are most important. As an investor, I always think of this short list: agility, a growth mindset (rather than a fixed mindset), an ability to see the whole field, an unwavering work ethic, a lean approach to expenses, a servant leadership approach, and intellectual curiosity.
But lately I’ve been thinking about adding one more characteristic to my list, and it may just be the most important. It’s humility – that ability to think more of others and less of yourself and to always recognize at your core that successes are the result of the teams of people and supporters with you and behind you.
It’s not an easy trait to interview for or to gauge in the short amount of time in which most investments are negotiated.
How will the investor behave once the investment documents are signed? How will the entrepreneur react to success and attention? Will the investor and the entrepreneur be open to differing points of view in the board room? There is no way to be sure of the answers to these questions while both sides are going through the investment process, but my recommendation is to do everything you can to at least ask the questions and then dig hard for as many answers as you can get.