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July 24, 2013

Pay No Attention To The Men In The Green Room

the-man-behind-the-curtain-01I just got done reading a blog post by Seth Levine at Foundry Group. I know Seth for quite a number of years from my days in Boulder and StillSecure.  Seth wrote about an email encounter with a entrepreneur looking for funding that Seth rejected. The guy obviously was a little upset about the rejection and wrote Seth a nasty-gram which Seth responded to.  Knowing Seth though, I can tell it got under his skin a bit though. Frankly who can blame him. You or I might have responded the same way.

But I can also understand where the antagonist (is that the right word here?) is coming from. He is frustrated, he has been turned down in his request and most of all he has not taken the time or effort to truly understand why.  To him he has come to Emerald City for an audience with the Wizard.  The Wizard has told him he will not grant his wish.  He doesn’t know that the man behind the black curtain is pulling the levers.  He sees only the illusion or reflection. He doesn’t get why the Wizard turned him down.

I remember back in my days working for a public Internet company during the dotcom bubble. The executive team used to meet in this ornate green conference room.  They would meet in there for hours at a time.  Coming out of these meetings it seems like the company was always off on a new course, with a new strategy and it meant big changes in my role and livelihood.  I didn’t understand the reasons for these changes most of the time. They seemed pretty arbitrary to me.  I had no insight into why they made these decisions. Because I had no insight into these decision, I imagined the worse.

One day I was promoted to become part of the executive team.  Now I was in the Green Room myself.  All of a sudden I was making those decisions.  There were people outside the room wondering what the hell was I thinking in making these decisions. It gave me a totally different perspective on the people in the green room. 

They are people just like you and me. The decisions they make are usually for rational reasons. If they say they are going to read something, they generally are. You may not understand why they decided something, but that doesn’t mean you should assume evil connotations.

My advice to the guy who wrote to Seth is “before you go off on something, understand what it is to be in the Green Room”

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