Episode 218: David Hornik – Why Givers Win

For the last 20 years, David has worked closely with technology companies to help them grow and prosper. David joined August Capital in 2000 to invest in a broad range of software companies.

Along with colleagues at August Capital, David started the first venture capital blog, VentureBlog, and the first venture capital podcast, VentureCast. He is the creator and executive producer of the The Lobby and Lobby:Enterprise, August Capital’s annual gatherings of the thought leaders across digital media and enterprise/SaaS software — www.thelobbyconference.com. David also serves as the Tech Curator for the TED Conference in Vancouver and is the co-creator and host of TEDxStanford. He received Deloitte’s 2013 Venture Capitalist of the Year award and has been honored by Forbes Magazine as a member of its Midas List of top Venture Capitalists.  He was prominently featured by Adam Grant in his best-selling book, Give and Take… Specifically describing why “givers” are successful in the long run.

David has an eclectic educational background. He received an BA from Stanford in Computer Music, an M.Phil in Criminology from Cambridge University, and a JD from Harvard Law School. He has taught courses in entrepreneurship, venture capital and law at Stanford Business School, Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School and the Stanford School of Engineering and has served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Harvard Business School.

Episode 218: David Hornik – Why Givers Win

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The Learning Leader Show

“The goal in life is to have a good time… To have a good life. To surround myself with great people and enjoy my life. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Show Notes:

  • Sustained Excellence:
    • Great story-tellers — Every message is better told as a story
    • Great sales people
  • Why generous people win in the long run — David is naturally generous
  • He answers every email
  • VC’s invest in people more than investing in a product
  • The story of Danny Shader and their daughters’ soccer team
    • The many conversations which led to working together after Danny initially turned David down because he thought he was “too nice” — Why he was wrong
  • The aspect of the job that David doesn’t like — Narcissistic people – “You don’t have to be that way”
  • “In the long run, doing the things you like, with the people you like, will be better”
  • What percentage of your job do you love? — “North of 80% of it. I’ve been doing this for 17 years. You have to do it with people you enjoy. If not, it’s terrible.”
  • Do you have a boss? — “Not really”
  • How to handle a bad loss? — “We lost $35m at one point. A lot of sleepless nights. It was very hard. This business is not all about succeeding.”
  • Why doesn’t David use hard end dates on his term sheets like all other VC’s? “Investing is a big decision.”
  • How to differentiate from other VC’s?
    • Money is all the same, does not differentiate
    • “It’s about help, guidance. I tell them to speak with every person I’ve ever worked with. Ask them what they think.”
    • “I genuinely care about people I work with”
  • “The Lobby” — David’s annual conference — “The best values from conferences are the relationships with other attendees.”
    • Do work outside at a table in Hawaii — It promotes better work
    • Best advice for hosting and event?  “Maniacally curate the guest list. It has to be full of givers. If takers are there, it won’t work.”
    • Start the conference with a fun game
    • Do NOT gather in conference rooms (Hence the name “The Lobby”) – The best conversations happen during the breaks in the lobby
    • Goal is to break even on the event. The budget is more than $1m — Get sponsors, the guests all pay
  • “The goal in life is to have a good time… To have a good life. What’s the point otherwise?”
  • “My goal is to surround myself with great people and enjoy my life. See what’s out there if you don’t like what you’re doing.”
  • Making a lot of money… Impact? “If I make more, I can give more away.”

How to differentiate from other VC’s? “Go talk to every single person I’ve ever worked with. It’s about helping, lending guidance, and genuinely caring about the people I work with.”

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Episode edited by the great J Scott Donnell

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