Harvesting Patience

Day 73 Week 11 Q1  Tuesday, March 14, 2023

There is literally an infinite amount to Harvest if you are a creative outlier, but as all farmers know, you have to wait for the crop to grow.  Of course, if you are the product yourself or are creating the product, you can not simply wait. The farmer also can not wait. Plants need to be watered, pruned and harvested, and although there may be some periods of time where the effort varies considerably, there is still the issue of patience.

You simply can not publish the book before it is written, nor eat the veggies before you grow them. The act of creation may start with the bang of commencing gestation, but you still have to wait a while for processes that are beyond your control. Immediately preceding the dot com financial meltdown, many engineers asked many investors for funding to build a prototype on the way to building a company. There were also many inexperienced investors making silly demands. When both the fledgling entrepreneur and the fledgling investor got together, really humorous conversations took place. 

The typical conversation went something like this. The entrepreneur would lead with something like, “I have invented a world-changing technology. “ And the supposedly enlightened investor sometimes said, “great, how can I help?” By the way, you may have had to speak with many investors before one answered in this manner. That much is expected, but things could then take a comic turn.

The extremely intelligent and somewhat charming engineer then said I need some money to build a prototype of my idea. To which the investor replied, “how much?” The engineer then usually said $2M because that was what they heard you should ask for. They thought they could build a working model for that much since they had never built anything before, but after all, they almost had a Ph.D. and from a “good school,” not one of those “not as good schools.”

The wanna-be investor then asked how long will it take to get money out, but more elegantly with nicer phrases such as when will break even occur, what do you think your market cap will be, and how long will it take for an exit? The first time an engineer is asked these questions, they shrug their shoulders and rapidly find out they need to know the answers to these questions. So, they go away and figure out the answers or rather guess at these fairly unknowable pseudo-facts.

So far, so good, but here is where it gets really comical. At some point, the hardware engineer says it will take me two years to assemble a team and build a working model. The software engineer would say I could do it in two months. So the investors stop talking to the hardware engineers or unbelievably say, and yes, I have actually heard this uttered, “ If we give you five million can you do it three times as fast?” And can I have 60% of the stock?

The inexperienced engineer who has never led a team before with the checkbook dangling over his head says sure. This conversation was between two people who never met a payroll and never hired or fired anyone. Unfortunately, it occurred too many, many times, and the dot com crash was the result. In my indelicate mater once asked one of these investors if he bought his wife more jewelry. Could he become a father sooner?

Sure, there is infinity to harvest, but you do have to exercise patience.