What’s A Characteristic You Have to Posses To Be a VC?

Last night I spoke to an entrepreneurship class at Chicago Booth.  When I speak at classes, I never bring a Powerpoint.  I usually open up with a little bit about how I got to where I got, and then open it up to questions. There is never a shortage of questions.

One that comes up around VC is what sort of characteristics do you need to be a venture capitalist?

I don’t think the answer to that is an easy one because VCs are human, and there is a lot of randomness in human personality.  There are certainly some characteristics that every successful investor possesses.  Usually, they are disciplined.  They are unafraid to go against the grain.  They see things before others see things.  They can put random parts of different things together to make a cohesive whole.  They are willing to take a risk.

However, the one thing I think that you really need to be a good VC is humility.  The businesses they invest in aren’t about them-and they don’t propel the businesses.  They provide capital, network and mentorship.  The mentorship often is just being a good psychologist.  A psychology degree might be a better indicator of a good VC over a finance or engineering degree.

Good venture capitalists would probably also make good coaches in athletics.