Yesterday at Fred Wilson’s blog, AVC, he talked about the backlash he was getting from a post on greed. In the crypto community, there is a lot of greed lately with the run up in value of several currencies. There isn’t a lot of fear which usually goes hand in hand with the greed part. Crypto markets also aren’t developed enough so the invisible hand can operate unfettered. Fred is doing the crypto community a favor by pointing out things he sees that might be troubling.
In the comments, I mentioned that often times even if you are a believer in the mission, you lose points with the community if you aren’t cheerleading all the time.
In Chicago, it’s against the local norms to be critical of anything. When you do criticize, you are seen as a gadfly even though you believe in the mission. That’s certainly true with the Machine. That culture spills out into other things as well. Having that overriding fear of criticism creates groupthink.
In the Vatican, they created a special Cardinal called the Devil’s Advocate to guard against this. President Bush’s and Obama’s administrations certainly had a “circle the wagons” and groupthink mentality to it. I am not saying to be negative all the time. But, recognizing when something isn’t right and doing something about it a detriment.
Being clear eyed and realistic isn’t a weakness. It is a recognition that there are things that you need to work on. Or, it could mean a change in strategy.
In Chicago and the greater Midwest, we have a lot of tremendous things going on when it comes to startups. There are really big opportunities. At the same time, we have some pretty huge challenges to overcome. In Chicago specifically, there are to put it nicely, “municipal challenges”, to overcome that are keeping people away. Those challenges are also causing people to move away.
Being a consistent and blind cheerleader is actually a hinderance to building something great.