Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

For a founder, this means picking a single adviser who can inform your thinking, rather than someone who makes decisions for you.

I would call this a sounding board. A good sounding board is really valuable. It should be someone you trust, like talking with and communicate well with. They don't necessarily need to know your problem space all that well.

I often serve as a sounding board for my 31 year old son. He talks a lot, I occasionally comment on something he said and he walks away with a valuable insight on where to go next. I'm not even in a position to give advice per se because I don't really know what he's talking about. But even in the course of trying to understand what he is saying, I can ask questions that help clarify something in his mind.

I'm really not a big fan of either getting nor giving advice. I try to get people to engage me in discussion in a meaty way, but advice per se presumes one person knows what is best for another and I think that is generally not true. The person seeking advice typically has "local" information that simply never really gets shared and this means the person giving advice is frequently doing so without knowledge critical to the decision-making process.

When I was raising my kids, I operated on the assumption that they knew a bajillion things about their little world that I would never know -- if they were hot, if their tummy hurt but they were too young to communicate it, etc -- but I knew a lot more about life, the universe and everything generally. I tried to bridge the gap between my larger knowledge base and their smaller one for the problem space in question while leaving as much decision-making in their hands as possible.

So, for example, the summer my oldest turned two and we got a hand-me-down winter coat in the mail that perfectly matched his new shoes and he was enamored that they matched and wanted to wear them together, I didn't tell him "No, you can't wear a winter coat in summer." (It was Germany and it was fairly cool that summer anyway.) Instead, I told him "Don't put the hood on and don't zip it closed. Half your heat escapes from your head. If you leave the hood off, you should be okay." And he then put the hood on and off a dozen times to test what he had just been told.

Because of this incident, years later in elementary school in Kansas -- which was colder than Germany -- he was better at keeping himself warm while playing outside in winter than his classmates. He was typically the last child still outside for recess. Everyone else went in before recess was over because they were too cold.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: