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Lessons from the VCs

VC stands for Venture Capitalist. These are the (mostly) men, who invest in start-ups and who are always looking for big returns. Think Shark Tank on steroids. I learned a lot about this from an event I spoke at.

It was the Alley to the Valley NYC Summit, which took place at the Harvard Club. Alley to the Valley is an organization that seeks to connect smart and successful women dealmakers across the country. So think Silicon Alley (NYC) to Silicon Valley (CA).

My topic was “Command Any Room: Communicating to Close the Deal.” The energy was electric in that there was so much great connecting going on. Basically everyone had a chance for an “ask” and an “offer.” I asked to be introduced to high-powered women (because all my high-level clients are men and I think it would be fun to mix it up). I offered my time to anyone who wanted to pick my brain about speaking, presenting, and video.

During this event, two terms were thrown around: The first was unicorn. In VC parlance, this is defined as a business with the potential to reach a billion dollars in a few years. The other was an acronym: ECVC, standing for emerging company venture capital. Even the lawyer who is in charge said she learned this term only recently.

I was glad to learn the lingo because it makes me better able to have a conversation when I’m in the company of these types of business people.

Another thing that I noticed was the mere fact of getting together live, in-person, has such great value. For a long time, the trend has been away from face time in favor of quick phone calls. But there is something missing and I think the pendulum might be swinging back. It’s powerful.

We had to go around the room and introduce ourselves. Almost everyone started the same way: “Hi, I’m Jane Smith? I’m a partner at Biddle, Battle, and Beadle? My specialty is mergers and acqusitions?”   Yep, grown women, super successful, talking in uptalk. Oy. And such boring, boilerplate intros. Clearly, no thought had been given to these “first look” presentations, even though we were all told we’d have to do something. Anyway, it came to be my turn and I told a story. I used my best voice. And let me tell you, I had people approaching me all day, handing me their cards, telling me they needed my help. It’s an opportunity to present yourself. Don’t miss out.


  • Learn the lingo.
  • Go to live meetings, but vet them beforehand.
  • Introduce yourself in an interesting, non-boilerplate way.

4 thoughts on “Lessons from the VCs”

  1. Terrific article with enlightening info on the biz world. Telling a story generally draws me in and I begin to listen and focus. Never goes out of style! Thank you Ruth!

    1. I know… too funny! It’s like “disruptive.” Heard that term about 5 years ago for the first time and now it’s such a cliché. Thanks, Diane.

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