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Would 'asking for advice' not be contrued as 'hand-holding' then - as it's not something you take and immediately run with? I personally don't see anything wrong with it, but I'm guessing the VC and entrepreneurs aren't aligned in expectations in that instance then.



If I hand someone a task, and then the next day have to ask for progress and get told that they don't know how to proceed, and have to explain to them what the next step is, go away, come back and have to repeat the process, often while having to explain the same things or "obvious" consequences over and over, that is hand holding.

If I hand someone a task and they ask me follow up questions, go away, do some real work tracking down more information or carrying out tasks, then comes back to me and asks more questions about new things based on stuff they've learned since last time, and repeat the process, that is not handholding to me.

The difference is who is driving the process forwards and whether or not they are absorbing the information they are given and taking initiative.


Not at all. An entrepreneur is not expected to be an expert in everything. Rather, he's expected to to figure out the fastest, cheapest way to get things done. Oftentimes the best way is just to ask somebody.

On the hand-holding point, it's really just about taking action and trusting that you will figure out how to see it through to completion. You don't have to know much to set up a meeting with a VC, but you do have to follow-up and actually set up the meeting.

It's amazing how few people in the real world follow through on things this simple. I have a friend who complains about his job every time I talk to him. I've offered many, many times to put him in touch with companies he might want to work for and even an HR specialist friend at Google for some free career coaching. He always says "sure!" but never follows through. This has gone on for years. Years!

Asking for advices is not bad as long as you process it and act on it accordingly. Pretending you know something that you don't, OTOH, is another form of arrogance. I've never heard anyone say "that guy's not arrogant enough."


Oftentimes the best way is just to ask somebody.

One of the best feelings when handing a task to someone is when you know that once you've handed it off, it will either get done quickly, or it will spawn a rich bramble of e-mail conversations that only ends when someone in the network has figured out what needs to be done, and then the person will do it. And if nobody knows, they'll be on the phone with you telling it straight the moment they realize that fact.

That's a very difficult quality to discern in the context of interviews, unfortunately. One thing that's useful is to try to push all of your candidates beyond what they can reasonably handle, and see how they react - people that are quick to look for help when it's needed tend to deal with these situations honestly and quickly, admitting the limits of their knowledge. The worst will just wubble about endlessly, never realizing that something is beyond their reach.

Once I realized how attractive that "quick to admit ignorance" quality was in job candidates, I stopped feeling so nervous about being interviewed, and started just being rigorously honest about what I can't do and don't know. It's better for everyone that way, and most interviewers I've met with seem to appreciate it. The only downside is that I've lost some work that I genuinely wasn't qualified to do, which is not such a great loss anyways...


I think it's fair to say there's a difference between 'hand-holding' and 'asking for advice' in PG's scenario. Hand holding would be having to constantly be checked up on, much like a child. This would be the person who receives the number to a VC and doesn't bother to figure out how to capitalize on it, if they even attempt to reach out at all. However, being resourceful would at least be able to figure out a rough game plan and think up a few broad questions for advice so they can take full advantage of the situation. Utilizing resources to have an advantage on other candidates.




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