What I’ve Learned When I Ask For Feedback

Something NEW and TRUE. Every time I’ve asked for feedback from those around me in a structured format I’ve received a gift. A learning that was previously unknown to me (NEW) and, even if I want to deny it, 100% correct (TRUE). My first N&T arrived when I was in grad school as part of a semester long T-group with a dozen or so of my classmates. Here I learned about a way I was unintentionally creating resentment by making people feel judged and discarded. By acknowledging and understanding these reactions I was able to improve myself.

The second N&T emerged during a 360 Degree Assessment that I received upon making Director at Google. You know I heard? That I was actually a pretty shitty manager of people who had different communication styles and motivations than I did. So again, I took it to heart and evolved (and also made sure I had managers in my org who were better at this than I would ever be). Always a work in progress you know….

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My third N&T was delivered earlier this month as part of a feedback exercise that Satya and I did for Homebrew. We had a third party coach reach out to 36 of the CEOs we’d backed and about a dozen co-investors. She had conversations with everyone around a set of goals and expectations for how we seek to assist companies and build relationships with teams (which we provided to them in advance to make best use of time). As we approach Homebrew’s 5th anniversary next year, it was great to get structured feedback from our customers (the founders we back) and ensure that our roadmap in the years to come is tuned even more specifically to helping them succeed. We’re thankful to all the people who took time out of their schedules to help us.

Satya and I are still digesting the aggregated and anonymized data (and we shared a summary with our LPs) but mostly feel great about what we heard back, with a few areas to work on. My N&T this time was actually something more positive than I’d expected — that our founders, by and large, knew I cared about them as human beings, not just as investments. I’ve always struggled with a feeling that my fondness for people didn’t translate, that I felt more transactional to them than truly committed. Part of this has been due to my introversion which sometimes causes to me to not show up at events or disappear suddenly, and part is just my manner, which tends to be more emotionally restrained. But I feel deeply about my friends and relationships so I’m glad this has started to come through more tangibly.

So if anyone *hasn’t* experienced structured feedback from their peers, colleagues or customers, I’d strongly recommend figuring out how to experience this. It’s a wonderful way to get out of your own head and confront truths on how you’re impacting others.

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You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .

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