The Entrepreneur Life

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3 Tips to Handling the Job Offer Call Well

photo: Monstera via Pexels

Companies are beginning to hire interview folks at rates approaching pre-pandemic levels. So I have ever more young people reaching out to me for advice. They are coping with a range of emotions—adrenalin from upcoming or just completed interviews, fatigue from too many interviews, depression that they may never land a job and anticipation and fear as they await a response.

Even as I learn to be a better listener, the caller usually expects me to provide them with some pointers or tips. These tips obviously vary with the individual, where they are in their I-need-a-job journey. In this post I’ll focus on a situation that I seem to encounter with greater frequency as spring approaches—that of a recruiter or hiring manager calling about their decision.

Here are three tips (and a bonus) to handling this call or meeting in a manner that at best makes you feel good or at worst avoids regret & recrimination.

#1 Be clear What is it you want—not just in terms of salary, job role/title, benefits/perks but culture, location, timings etc. Which of these are non-negotiable and when would you decline, negotiate for better or accept the offer?

#2 Be realistic The call may not be a job offer, but a request for further information or meeting. It may even be a polite decline. Even when it is an offer, it may be one of three possibilities

  • A disappointing offer in terms of the salary, job title, benefits or others terms
  • A good offer as in it meets your expectations, one that you’d say yes to
  • A great offer – it exceeds your expectations in one or more dimensions. Heck ya!

#3 Be prepared Plan for what your response would be to each of the above scenarios. Prepare a short scripts for each scenario. The intent of the scripts is NOT respond unthinkingly, but to avoid reacting by letting your emotions do the talking. Scripts could be as simple as:

[for a decline] “I’m sorry to hear that, appreciate your letting me know. “I’ve enjoyed interviewing with you and hope to stay in touch.” “Can you help me understand the rationale for your decision?” (in case they didn’t give you one) and “Do you have any feedback for what I could have done better or differently.”

[for an offer that falls short] “Thank you. I truly appreciate the offer and must be honest that I’m disappointed with the number (or terms). Can you help me understand your rationale for the money (or terms). I need to really think about it. Can I get back to you by [day]?” (usually a day or three)? [add.] Meanwhile here are some clarifying questions I have [terms & conditions, expenses, raises, travel etc.]

Even the best job offer is not a marriage proposal. Much as you want to scream Yes! on the phone, you’ll be happier if you take an hour or a day so that you don’t second guess yourself!

[for a good or even great offer] “Thank you – I’m so excited about this opportunity and appreciate your offer. Just to make sure I heard you right, here’s what I understand your offer is – [restate]; Here are some questions: When do you need an answer from me? Excited as I’m about this, I need to a day or two to: [pick 1]
• discuss this with my spouse/dad/family once I get this in writing
• sleep on it and I’m sure soon as we hang up I’ll have questions

Write back After you hang up the phone, or read their emailed offer, drop them a note, acknowledging the call or email, thanking them and re-stating whichever script you verbally delivered. This is not only good manners, but a great way to both express your interest and minimize any misunderstandings. Set expectations and always be polite. Don’t ghost them!

Happy hunting!

Acting on what’s important

Last weekend, two men, neither of whom I knew personally, died in separate accidents in North America. Yet this morning, as I sit down to write I find the deaths of Dave Goldberg, CEO of Survey Monkey and Parag Parikh, value investor have impacted me in ways I’d not have guessed. Yes we live in a world, whether the earthquake in Nepal (7500+ dead), war in Yemen (1250+ dead) or Syria (200,000+ dead) which in many way inures us to the news of death if not death itself. Yet the death of both these men, one admired in the startup community – known to many as the spouse of Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook (and Lean In fame) and the other in India’s value investment community, should make every one of us in the entrepreneurial community stop and take stock.

As founders of startups and otherwise active members of the ecosystem, we get caught up with the chase – whether news of rounds raised or customers won or milestones made. Our startups are constantly faced with existential crises be they cash flow problems, key employee loss or co-founder shenanigans. Many of us make it a badge of honor that we don’t have time for personal lives or the long hours we put in or how we’ve spent days at the office with little or no sleep. What little time we have we spend poring over startup news, networking and hustling. Many of us who left the corporate “rat race” have only traded it for the startup roller coaster, without the perks and the sobering truth of what working for oneself really is. Almost every one of these things is what makes the start up life the exhilarating and infuriating ride that it is.

The sudden death of these two men in their prime only brought home the truth of what’s important in our lives – our families, our health and what we can contribute to our communities. All too easily our own time can be taken away – so don’t put away what’s important to another day – don’t wait for Mother’s Day or any other special day to call on a loved one, to read to your child, take a walk with your spouse or a long hike with friends.

Stop reading and go give someone a hug!

Startup Founder Secret #1

Much like the well-meaning father’s friend in the movie Graduate, almost everyone has advice for startup founders. Never mind that such advice ranges from “Unlike your brother, I hope you find a good job” to “Never give up, follow your passion.” I haven’t been averse to handing out such platitudes myself at times. And such advice, like a broken clock, will be occasionally true.

But is there advice, actionable and useful, that is applicable regardless of your startup’s life stage or your own for that matter. I’d argue yes!

Meditate!

That would be my one word advice to founders (and leaders) everywhere. It’s also a sneaky way of saying Take care of your mind which in turn will necessitate taking care of your body as well.

There’s a great deal of formal studies on the advantages of meditation – from how it can make you happier, make better decisions and how it helps the US  Marines do better by bouncing back faster!  More importantly there’s plenty of useful and actionable advice on what meditation is, how to start meditating, how long a session should be and when can you expect results.

Get started My two favorite resources are Eknath Easwaran’s meditation method – and the formal medical world, here represented by the Mayo Clinic’s Elements of Meditation.

Start today with 5 or 10 minutes set aside for meditation. Preferably first thing in the morning. Work up to doing 30 minutes of meditation a day, and once you get there, keep at it.  I suspect, you will find it so much easier to handle, life and everything it throws at you.


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Keep your needs simple – Lessons from my dad

Bench

Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight

“Why do you take the bus? Couldn’t you at least take an auto (3-wheeler cab)?”

My father never stopped asking his friend, a Gujarati Jain gentleman, this question each time he visited. Even the times he did come to our doorstep in an auto, my father whispered to me conspiratorially, “He probably took the bus to Adyar and took the auto for the last kilometer.

The said gentleman, had like my dad, landed in Chennai as a teen with less than Rs. 10 in his pocket. He’d then gone on to amass a considerable fortune in the plastics business. Yet, he maintained a disarmingly simple, nearly spartan, lifestyle. While my father pulled his friend’s leg about his frugality, his own actions were not all that different.

As kids we were always embarrassed, when my father would order idlisambar – steamed rice cakes with spicy lentil – at even the fanciest of restaurants. Likewise we were flummoxed that he’d check in at the 5-Star Taj hotel with his boss, but choose to spend the night at his sister’s duplex in Karol Bagh. It took us more than twenty years to try and get him to wear anything other than the white shirt and pant that he wore every day to work – even then we only managed to get him try solid pastel color shirts!

My dad lived and breathed his belief to keeping his needs simple. Without my realizing it he’d trained me from day one to be an entrepreneur. Not that I was a good student. In my first foray at being an entrepreneur, I blew nearly $250 (yep, dollars) on business cards. Let’s just say I was a slow learner. But luckily I returned to my roots – when we bootstrapped our first startup. We didn’t buy a computer, we didn’t hire a coder – we began pitching customers. We kept it simple – emails and presentations. We operated out of my co-founder’s apartment and held day jobs while we tried to land our first paying customer.

The lesson I learned was not just frugality but to keep every element of life (and business) simple.

Keep your 

  • business simple, so others understand it. Stay focused
  • offerings simple, so customers just get it
  • pricing simple so buying what you sell is easy
  • cash tracking simple – know where it goes, what you need and have
  • organization simple – so your team is clear about their roles & what’s expected of them
  • life simple – early to bed, early to rise, love, affection & exercise

Thanks dad!

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