Make it Rain
Greetings, Chief Storytelling Officers.
Early last week the US men's soccer team faced a must win game. Before the game their coach asked them 1 question.
"In 20 years what do you want your story to tell?"
They went on to win and made it to the knockout stage.
Yes they ended up losing to The Netherlands on Saturday, but for the 2nd youngest team in the tournament and a team that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup this was a huge step in the right direction.
And that question from the coach...
I've been thinking about it non-stop for myself. I hope you spend some time thinking about it for you too.
DEEP DIVE: Rethinking the Root of All Evil
From a very young age, many of us are conditioned to believe that money is the root of all evil. The immorality of seeking wealth has been a theme in literature and art since Biblical times, and studies have found that we unconsciously link affluence with social harm.
I’d argue not only is this perception of money and building wealth wrong, but as a founder, it’s the OPPOSITE of what you should be striving for.
I will say this right here. If you think money is evil, this isn't the newsletter for you. I'm here to help founders, investors, and leaders make a ton of money to live their best lives and do good in the world.
Now, before I get into why founders making a ton of money is a good thing, let’s dig into why we have this misconception of money.
Part of it is that people conflate money and wealth with greed. We see wealthy schemers ripping off unsuspecting victims for their own gain or hear stories of evil CEOs exploiting workers as a means to grab a larger slice of the pie. Plus we see criminals like SBF, Bernie Madoff, and Elizabeth Holmes but there's a difference between fraud and building wealth.
Pop culture doesn’t help, painting wealth and success as evil through tropey characters like Gordon Gekko and Patrick Bateman. The relationship between money and greed has been so ingrained in people's minds that it’s nearly impossible to separate the two.
The other issue—and let’s just be honest here—is envy. People see wealthy people partying on yachts, sporting the trendiest clothing, and eating at the swankiest restaurants, and in order to justify why they aren’t living that life, people concoct a story about why they're better than them. Maybe they spend their money in gluttonous ways, or they obtained it through nefarious means. As I said in last week’s issue, it’s easy to hate on people who are at the top.
But the anger is misplaced. Money itself has NOTHING to do with it. Money is a tool, no different from the ones hanging in your garage. Villainizing money is like villainizing the hammer you smashed your thumb with. Even Mahatma Gandhi understood this, saying, “Capital as such is not an evil; it is its wrong use that is evil.”
Do people misuse money? Yes. Can it negatively impact our morality, relationships, and mental health? Studies suggest it can. But to say that everyone who’s ever pursued wealth in a meaningful way is greedy or corrupt is wholly incorrect.
The truth is, if you want to be successful—like sky’s the limit SUCCESSFUL—you must get that out of your head now. Rewire those neural pathways.
Money = IMPACT
Once we can agree that making money is not a bad thing in and of itself, let’s talk about why it’s ABSOLUTELY a good thing for you and your dreams of becoming a successful founder.
It comes down to one word: IMPACT.
Let’s continue with the tool metaphor for a moment. If you have a modest little toolbox—a hammer, a screwdriver, some pliers—you can do a decent job of fixing broken things. But if you had one of those giant chests of tools, filled with specialized ratchets and files and wrenches, you’d be able to fix a lot more with way better efficiency. You, the handyman, would have a significantly larger impact.
When you as a founder make tons of money, your impact potential also grows. You can turn around and do a few things:
First, you can take big swings on tough issues and not fear failure. We all know that starting a business involves huge risks, and, as founder Wil Schroter points out, not taking an occasional big chance can actually hinder your growth. The larger the safety net below you, the more willing you’ll be to make the leap.
Second, you can invest in other founders and companies that need the capital to take THEIR moonshots. A few years ago, entrepreneur Johan Brand approached Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, with an idea for an educational app that was inspired by Eyal’s book. Eyal, who previously had a few successful angel investments, decided to invest in the company to help get it off the ground. That app, called Kahoot!, is now a publicly traded company worth over $2.5 billion, and it’s used by millions of students around the world to make classroom learning more fun.
Third, more money gives you an opportunity to give back to the community without worrying about fees and payment terms. The popular footwear company TOMS began with a promise to donate one pair of shoes for every pair that’s purchased from its company, and it’s made good on that promise, donating nearly one million pairs of shoes and winter boots for children worldwide.
Other companies that top the philanthropic list are Disney, Starbucks, and Google—the same companies often accused of exploiting customers and employees for greed.
All of these are good things that can only happen when a founder hits it big!
I’ll be honest with you: My financial goals are HUGE. But not because I want to pursue more stuff—because it gives me the freedom to work on the projects I want, with the people I want, and create the impact I see ahead.
For those of you founders that want to fundraise venture capital, the way you think about money will affect the success of your round. If you think money is evil, that you don't deserve it, or that it's a scarce resource then that's exactly why you will fail.
If you think that money is good, that you're worthy of it, and that it's abundant then you will create that energy that investors feel. Because money may not grow on trees but people who believe in the good they can do with money always seem to find a way to land it.
So here's my call to action for you.
Go forth and believe you deserve it all. Make tons of money. Then you can focus 100% on the massive impact and never need to worry about money again. Don’t shy away from wanting tens of millions, hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars.
In the classic words of Lil Wayne...
Make it rain.
RESOURCES for Founders and Storytellers
Lots of very successful people have learned to shift their mindset on making money. One of whom is Matt Mochary, author of The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building. This book shares effective business and leadership tools that can help any CEO or manager effectively scale their business from startup to corporation. One of the tips? More money=more impact!
After seeing an aggressive uptick in VC funding last year, investments fell throughout 2022. Does this mean investors are starting to back away from VC deals? If so, what does that mean for 2023? Hamptons Group chairman Jeff Bartel shares his predictions in this great Forbes article.
Raising private capital became more difficult in Q3 this year. Aggregated fundraising across the private investing universe was down 7.7%, and only funds focused on VC and real assets managed to surpass year-go levels. And fund managers are saying that raising capital got even trickier in Q4.
A quick note on the length of the newsletter.
It's long by design.
This newsletter is for those people who want to go deep into storytelling, fundraising, and the mindset it takes to win in this tech, startup, and venture world. It's meant to give you more research and resources to go further.
I'm not here to give bite sized, fortune cookie platitudes. I'm not here just to curate some links.
I say all of this so that you, the reader, knows exactly what's coming every single week.
So to the 1,535 of you here. Thanks for reading.
See you next week.
Curious what it looks like to work with me around fundraising venture capital? You can learn more and apply to talk with my team at Founder Fundraising.
If you're not a founder or not fundraising but looking for how else I engage on storytelling, feel free to reply directly to this email.