Heidi Roizen, our next influencer, illustrates our point. She’s a
talented executive whose focus on helping other people learn
and grow earned her the informal title of “mentor capitalist” in
Silicon Valley and led the Harvard Business Review to feature
her as an exemplar of relationship
building and mentoring.
After cofounding a highly successful
software development company,
Heidi served as vice president of
worldwide developer relations for
Apple Computer and later became
managing director of Mobius
Venture Capital. Currently, she’s a
member of the board of directors
of TiVo and serves on the faculty at
Heidi believes that you can do more for the people in your
life by helping them grow, and that it’s important to do this.
She says, “If you’re not trying to grow, you start stagnating.
If you’re not going forward, you’re not staying the same.
You’re falling back, degrading. It’s easy to get in a rut so deep
you’re afraid to try.” One of her favorite quotes is from Eleanor
Roosevelt: “Do something every day that scares you.”
As a mentor, Heidi gets great satisfaction from doing more
by helping entrepreneurs frame their thoughts, manage their
feelings, and take action even in the face of fear and uncertainty.
She often finds them paralyzed with indecision. She says,
“There’s so much uncertainty, it’s difficult to know the right
thing to do. But as an entrepreneur, making no decision is often
the worst thing you can do. You get frozen in your tracks.”
In these situations, she says, people’s fears are nearly always
more extreme than the reality. “I walk them through a thought
process, step by step,” she says, “and that helps them rethink
the situation and then take action.”
One common technique she uses to help them get unstuck is to
ask them this question: What’s the worst thing that can happen?
“Maybe you won’t make your rent payment,” she might tell
them. “Okay, will the landlord kick you out immediately?
Instead, could the intellectual property you have be worth
something? Perhaps you can compensate the landlord that way.
Or maybe that won’t work, and you’ll need to move out of
the building, and the landlord will rent to someone else. But
maybe it will take him a few months to get someone else, so
he’ll give you time to try to get it turned around. . . .”
As she helps them deconstruct their fear, it releases its grip.
That allows them to think more clearly, get their emotions
lined up, and then take action. “Make a decision, then act, then
course correct,” Heidi says. “That’s often much better for these
entrepreneurs than freezing up in the situations they face.”
This advice, coming from a person of Heidi’s stature, is
extraordinarily valuable. Thanks to her guidance, dozens of
entrepreneurs who might have missed their great outcomes due
to crippling fear are succeeding wildly. And it’s all because
Heidi chooses to do more in
her mentoring relationships.
One problem we often
see when we come into a
company is that each person
is in a “silo” - sitting alone
behind walls, not knowing
or caring about the problems
other people are experiencing
in their own silos. This is bad
from a business standpoint,
and it’s even more toxic to
people’s emotional health.
So one way in which we add value when we consult with
business leaders - especially teams coming to grips with very
stressful situations - is to spend time helping them break down
their silo walls and see each other as human beings. To do this,
we ask them to share the answers to questions like these:
• Where were you born?
• What were your parents like, and how did they communicate
with each other?
• What’s a seminal event from your childhood that has shaped
your personality and your values?
• What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do or overcome?
• Who or what helped you through that time, and how? (This
could be a person, religious faith, a book, or anything.)
• What is your greatest shortcoming—one that, if overcome,
would lead to your being much more successful?
• What is your greatest strength—one that, if you were able
to tap it more fully, would lead to your being much more
• Can you think of a situation during the next month in
which you will have the greatest opportunity to overcome the
shortcoming you named?
• Can you think of a situation during the next month in which
you will have the greatest opportunity to tap that strength?
• How committed are you to doing this?
In one meeting like this that Mark led, the answers participants
shared with him stunned their colleagues. For instance, one
man said that he used to leave at 7:00 every night and everyone
would tease him about going to see his mistress. During this
"WHEN YOU OFFER
PEOPLE A NEW WAY TO
SEE THEMSELVES AND THE
WORLD, YOU CHANGE THEIR
LIVES FOREVER. THAT’S REAL