I heard this phrase on the radio a few weeks ago, “rain and sunshine – you need both to grow” and it stuck with me.  It could be that 30 weeks into the Covid world here in SF there has been both rain and sunshine in the rolling timeline of work and life.  But in a larger context, I can look back at the longer timeline and say yes, you need both to grow.  There is the good and the bad and we learn from both and we advance from both.

As an entrepreneur, I think about this – the positive things in my journey, such as all of the colleagues that have helped me along the path forward.  And not just folks that were already part of my circle of colleagues and friends, but also individuals I have recently met, who have been willing to provide advice, provide introductions and share their experiences.

And then there is the negative – the relationship that never materialized or the most gut-wrenching ones, where relationships are lost.  I ask myself, can you learn from this? Sometimes.  In some circumstances, I say to myself, “yup could have handled that one better.”  Realized that no matter what we are all human, we all have feelings, we all have dignity and I lost sight of that in the heat of the moment.  And other times, I have to chalk up the misses to other circumstances, something I can’t pinpoint on me or the interaction. But even so, I learn – I learn that not everything is in my control or even in my sphere of knowledge. Doesn’t necessarily make it easier – but it makes it acceptable to move on to the next opportunity.

To be an entrepreneur takes a lot of grit.  I look at the founders starting biotech companies, some for the first time, no prior experience other than the science.  So many times they hear from potential investors and partners “no” or some form of polite excuse that really means “no” or at best, “not now.”  The difficult but rewarding side of that “no” is to learn from that interaction. 

Is there something that would have changed the interaction?  Maybe not, but did you get a hint of what additional information, what additional framing of your problem/solution would grab them in the future? 

Did the negative feedback provide you with concrete steps as to how to move forward, how to improve the pitch and what data might make the company more investor-attractive? 

Or did the feedback tell you “not this one” – not a match here, move on to another potential partner?

The disappointment stings and that won’t necessarily change.  But it does help to see it as a continuum of learning, using the rain to grow and to position you to take full advantage of the sunshine when it comes.