You’ve Got to Give Before You Get
Boulder, as a home for start-ups, entrepreneurs and smart, innovative people, may seem like a welcoming place. It’s a place where technology companies can draw world-class talent with the promise of a high quality of life and perks like the ability to bring your dog and your bike to work. If you look at the career pages of any of Boulder’s prominent technology companies you begin to see a common theme. Boulder is a wonderful place to live because, though people are driven to create good work, they care about things other than work too. The people care about giving back and the companies care about changing the world.
Brad Feld, Boulder’s most prominent venture capitalist and start-up guru, has publicly emphasized the Give First attitude of the Boulder start-up community. This philosophy, as he described in a 2013 post on his popular blog Feld Thoughts, requires the members of the start-up community to adopt an attitude of helping others without regard for what they will be getting in return. The key component of this philosophy though, is that it’s “not altruistic”, as Feld puts it. The members of the community “do expect to get something in return- but [they] don’t set up the relationship to be a transactional one.” This means that, if you are new to the Boulder business scene, you must enter blindly, offer to help as many people as you can, and keep your fingers crossed that karma will end up working in your favor. This also means that you must be committed and in it for the long haul, which weeds out the more opportunistic folks and adds to the sustainability and strength of the community.
So although Boulder may seem like a welcoming place, it’s a community that requires work and participation from its members. The businesses and individuals that have found success in the Boulder community have done so with a commitment to Give First. This blog series will highlight the businesses and individuals that have demonstrated the Give First attitude in interesting and admirable ways. A business doesn’t have to be a non-profit to focus on giving first and an individual certainly doesn’t have to be a volunteer to do the same. I’ll be focusing on those who have found ways to give to the community without knowing exactly what they will get in return.
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