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When someone else’s problem becomes your problem

This morning I drove to work and a guy in front of me was weaving in and out of traffic. Frantically.

It was pretty clear this guy was late for a meeting, the airport or whatever. And he was creating a headache for everyone else around him. His problem became everyone else’s problem.

Unfortunately this sort of thing can happen in the world of startups and venture capital as well. A board member has problems with his own portfolio and he takes out his own issues on an unsuspecting startup. Or someone at the office comes to work lit like a roman candle because they didn’t get any sleep last night because of a personal matter impacting their lives. 

Their problem becomes your problem.

I think the only way to deal with this issue is by taking it head on. For the never-happy board member, I will often talk to this person out of the board room and calmly review the issues related to the non-offending startup that got hit with emotional shrapnel.

Same is true for the colleague at work that comes to work in a funk.

A vc friend of mine recently told me that he is only interested in bringing someone on to his team if his personal life is in good shape and a high priority in his life. It makes complete sense on many levels. First, it respects the individual and it also is mindful that our various lives spill over and get mashed up with each other.

One more thing (since i"m mindful that this is starting to sound like a “know it all” post which god knows isnt how i feel), we are all guilty of this from time to time. So when we find ourselves as the root of the issue, take a breath and go for a walk.