How We Accidently Create Negative Community Outcomes

The worst thing is we frequently don’t realize the negative community outcomes we accidently create.

Startup communities are made up of many different actors with many different personality styles (kinda like a family).  And like families many of those connective tissues are dysfunctional. There is no judgement here, it is simply our personalities exercising their right to shine.

What are some of the more common community personalities or  archetypes?

  • Community Cheerleader – always happy and thing are up and to the right
  • Community Curmudgeon – we are doomed
  • Community Gadfly – shows up at every event; involved in every new activity
  • Community “Expert” – they know everything, just ask them
  • Community Frump – somewhere between the cheerleader and the curmudgeon
  • Community Connoisseur – has good knowledge and pontificates about that knowledge
  • and too many others to mention.

Full disclosure – I am a community cheerleader and one of those glass half full guys.  It is my personality and general state of mind.

What is a community cheerleader and what role do they play in the community?

Let me share my definition of a community cheerleader through my own experiences:

  • I hold weekly open office hours with founders
  • I blog and share my thoughts weekly
  • I network like crazy and always spend part of each day connecting people
  • I am a storyteller and many stories are others (did you know that . . . did you hear about . . .  )
  • I talk about our community with energy and passion with anybody who wil listen
  • I guest speak at local colleges, universities, high schools, key events (or anywhere they will have me)
  • I tour interested leaders motivated to find out how we do things here (Raleigh/Durham NC)
  • I smile a lot
  • I share my energy with others

The archetype that I don’t understand is the Community Curmudgeon.  Without them knowing it, they accidently poison the community well. This has a direct negative impact on the direction of the community. You see, we influence our friends’ friends without us even knowing it.

Combine the community curmudgeon with a passionate group of first-time entrepreneurs and we have a recipe for disaster.  First time entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of a growing community. By definition, they are susceptible to the influence of others as they fill their brain with best practices. Fill that brain with negative thoughts – “we have no good investors”, “our mentors are stupid”, “this is no place to grow your company” – and don’t be surprised with negative outcomes.

What would you do?  I would move somewhere else where the attitudes were less toxic.  Big negative outcome for the community.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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