We love to share “The Art of the Start" with our teams. It’s a classic manual written by Silicon Valley maven, marketer, communicator & investor extraordinaire (oh, and also one of our mentors ;), Guy Kawasaki,. It is chock full of principles and tactics for getting your startup off the ground.
Guy’s final chapter in the book is titled “The Art of Being a Mensch.” Even if you didn’t grow up learning Yiddish, you can get the gist of what this means for tech entrepreneurs from Guy’s post — key attributes include:
Help people who cannot help you. A mensch helps people who cannot ever return the favor. He doesn’t care if the recipient is rich, famous, or powerful. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t help rich, famous, or powerful people (indeed, they may need the most help), but you shouldn’t help only rich, famous, and powerful people.
Help without the expectation of return. A mensch helps people without the expectation of return—at least in this life. What’s the payoff? Not that there has to be a payoff, but the payoff is the pure satisfaction of helping others. Nothing more, nothing less.
Help many people. Menschdom is a numbers game: you should help many people, so you don’t hide your generosity under a bushel. (Of course, not even a mensch can help everyone. To try to do so would mean failing to help anyone.)
Do the right thing the right way. A mensch always does the right thing the right way. She would never cop an attitude like, “We’re not as bad as Enron.” There is a bright, clear line between right and wrong, and a mensch never crosses that line.
Pay back society. A mensch realizes that he’s blessed. For example, entrepreneurs are blessed with vision and passion plus the ability to recruit, raise money, and change the world. These blessings come with the obligation to pay back society. The baseline is that we owe something to society—we’re not a doing a favor by paying back society.
Like Mozilla, WebFWD is a community-powered effort. Our mentors, teachers, service providers, Scouts and fans give their talents and time to help our teams succeed; we realize the program would be nothing without them. And from time to time, some of them really stand out. We want to recognize them. Please join us in honoring our first Mensch of the Month:
As lead developer of our alumni team BigBlueButton, Fred is a tireless advocate of WebFWD. We used BBB for our team calls even before they joined our program (because it’s just good!), and Fred hosted our calls to ensure all went smoothly. Once he joined the program himself, he coached our teams on sales, and now that he’s an alum, he even put together this fantastic module for them (and you). He even coached them on our team call, doing role-plays, and offering up more of his time for individual teams for further help.
All of the above — and the fact that he is just a great guy - qualify Fred for our first MoM award. Congratulations, Fred!