It’s normal that as disruption continues to move across borders there arises new homegrown founders across emerging ecosystems like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam, to name a few. We have seen the first wave of unicorns built by diaspora founders returning home.
These founders were able to effectively self-fund and more importantly communicate and build relationships with stakeholders outside their domestic ecosystems. It is particularly important as the domestic angel investor and venture capital markets may still be maturing. As Founders, we all want to communicate, build trust and work with the best investors, I know I did. Adding to a person's trajectory becomes a whole lot easier when there’s a shared standard of communication, for our words, behaviours, terms, body language, and teams. Shared etiquette is the easiest multiplier to unlock and attract the best stakeholders, for the next wave of rockstar founders.
The adult mind makes about 35,000 conscious decisions each day. Now let’s think about that for a second. That’s 35,000 decisions and innumerable insecurities and aspirations bouncing around within the human mind inside 24 hours. As founders you can structure your communications and stakeholder engagement to capture value within the swathe of decisions your stakeholders will make in the next 24 hours.
What we’ve talked about above are the reasons for biases and pattern recognition. The next is an awful truth and one of the biggest opportunities. Wait for it…… capital allocators (founders and investors) do use obsolete rules of thumb and nepotism. From brand names in your work history, ye ole alma mater, or sourcing from an existing social network. There’s no intentional malice in this, it’s just how trust was scaled before we had other mechanisms, like an active GitHub account.
With all that said, [Whisper the next part] There are disproportionate returns available to capital allocators that can actually decipher real value before those making their 35,000 decisions on outdated pattern recognition realise.
Forgive me for bluntly paraphrasing but I recall a prominent Silicon Valley angel investor saying “I invest in female founders, founders of colour and other minorities exactly because the rest of the market under-values them”. It’s no different than investing in an emergent technology whose value is yet to be seen.
With all that said one of the main jobs founders have is to make it easy for capital markets to connect with labour markets. Capital markets full of investors and labour markets full of founding teams. And one of the easiest points of friction to remove in making it easy for capital and labour markets to connect is having behaviours that make it easy for people to become your advocates.
This is an easy multiplier to be unlocked by rockstar founders in emerging markets. So I’m going to detail my own logic for how differences in etiquette form, starting with upbringing, environmental factors and finally some of the quick fixes that can be applied outside of longer form coaching.
Most of the time when we see a difference in etiquette from founders or founding teams, it’s relevant to their upbringing. And it’s quite relatable for me because I had a working class upbringing. It can be intertwined in a drive to seek out an institutional education because our parents said so, the validation seeking that comes with that and the resulting eternal search for self-worth through recognition. Some sub optimal signals of this I’ve seen are;
Both of the signals above reduce, hinder or often stop any flow of value.
Our environmental factors like where we grow up, who we meet and how we engage with them either support the above or they create the necessary stimuli to resolve it. This is also the reason why throughout history wealth can stay within families due to learned behaviours, because we learn behaviours and mental models of the world from our family, peers and immediate community. We’ve all heard that you become the average of the people that you hangout with. Founders that are able to effectively evolve as the business grows are able to;
Remembering that the reason we have shared etiquette and pro-active communication is so that we can remove friction to capital flow and economic activity. The outputs rockstar founders get right in bringing investors into emerging markets are below;
As you can probably tell from the steps it took to get to the quick fixes. Most differences in etiquette have no real malice attached, just a difference of the path in life we were given. With that said, the next wave of rockstar founders continue to multiply their impact on the world by being amazing conscious communicators.
Note: The above are quick fixes for dealing with parties external to your organisation. People that you may at times need to charge your “trust battery” with.
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