The Value of Outside Perspectives

Jason Yeh
November 28, 2023

So much of getting better quickly in startups hinges on hearing the right advice in a way that makes you actually listen.

There's a ton of accurate advice out there, and many startup clichés are grounded in truth (“Fail fast,” “Done is better than perfect, and “Hire people that are smarter than you” are a few that come to mind). But people typically don't believe advice they stumble on and usually roll their eyes at clichés.

So how do we get that guidance to stick?

The following message can certainly be applied to fundraising, but it's worth hearing for your company overall and life in general.

Resisting Advice From Close Ones

People don't like listening to advice from those closest to them.

A friend of mine is an extremely successful entrepreneur and one of the smartest people I know. He has a ton of experience in solving problems, influencing people, and building businesses. It’s the type of experience that would enable him to give extremely accurate advice to his partner.

The problem is that advice given from one partner to another can be extremely difficult to listen to. Advice from a partner can sound too much like criticism, and who likes giving their partner the satisfaction of being right!? 😆

I've seen my friend give their partner good advice that is received with an eye roll at best.

When I give a very similar piece of advice to my friend's partner, it's met with deep admiration and gratitude, and their excitement to follow up on the advice is palpable.

Seek Quality Outsiders

This highlights the value of the outside perspective. I highly recommend, as you build a board of advisors or cultivate a group of people you enjoy getting feedback from, that you include outsiders in the mix- people you respect but who aren't necessarily in your tightest inner circle. Their perspective will feel like a breath of fresh air, unique and sophisticated. If their insights are good, there's a better chance you'll listen to them than anyone extremely close to you.

I've seen this play out firsthand- I’ve been advising some companies long enough to see myself go from an outside advisor, whose advice is deeply considered before actions are taken, to being embedded in the company long enough to be thought of as an insider offering familiar advice.

Recognize When to Rotate Advisors

Just last week, I heard a co-founder of a company I've advised for nearly two and a half years describe a piece of advice they'd heard from another VC on how to handle an upcoming fundraise. The advice was nearly identical to what I had said just a few short months ago, but it wasn't followed then.

Now that an outsider was saying the same thing, it became something we all had to think about and deeply consider before proceeding.

As you explore options for getting feedback, especially think about the advisors you have on board and whether it makes sense to rotate them out for new advisors. There's incredible value in getting an outsider's perspective and the status of being an outsider does not last forever.


The importance of outside perspectives: While it's often hard to implement advice from those closest to us, outsiders bring fresh, unique perspectives that are more likely to be accepted and actioned upon. When building a board of advisors or a feedback group, it's beneficial to include people who aren't in your immediate circle.Be conscious of aversion to a advice: People often disregard advice from those closest to them. This may be because they interpret it as criticism or it may seem too familiar. Learning to value advice, irrespective of the source, could be crucial to growth and improvement.Value in rotating advisors: The impact of advice from an individual tends to diminish over time, as they move from being an outsider to being an insider. It might hep to consider rotating advisors in order to maintain fresh perspectives and insights.

Be chased,

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