Brutality Works: The “Whiplash” School of Education & Training
The movie is amazing & probably upsetting to some people. From Our Culture Magazine:
“Whiplash finds its setting in the fictional New York Shaffer Conservatory, where Terence Fletcher (J K Simmons) mentors an up-and-coming jazz band with an iron fist. He’s verbally and physically abusive, but he believes that this is necessary in order to breed greatness. In his view, mediocrity is the enemy, and it is his duty to mentor the next great jazz musician.
Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is accepted into Fletcher’s band as a drummer, where he is subjected to extensive abuse. At first, he seems wimpy, not driven, and forgettable. Fletcher’s methods seem to spark something inside him and Andrew endures his abuse in seething anger. Obsessed with becoming someone to be remembered, Andrew pushes himself beyond his limits.
It’s quite brutal and probably shocking to people raised in the “everybody gets a trophy” environment we are in. I hate seeing this in my daughters school as it does not reflect the real world. As a quote from the movie says: “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.’
In fact this is the Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant Tiger Mom way of raising kids (https://hardfork.substack.com/p/trauma-with-a-small-t-therapy-and). It’s all negative reinforcement and shame. Some of it had definitely rubbed off on me.
My method Is to be direct. And not always in a positive way. You sometimes need to deliver the message in a hard way to get through to a founder. A startup founder by nature is overly optimistic but this can be dangerous sometimes.
It has led to Negative feedback on me in VCGuide. On one hand I get it. On the other hand, “Fcuk you, you thin skinned mental weaklings! If you can’t handle this, how are you going to handle annoyed customers, employees or the true brutality of the market?” And frankly from what I’ve seen is they usually don’t make it.
Most investor’s feedback in Silicon Valley is vapid, nonsensical & plainly not helpful. Ie. passive aggressive to the point of uselessness. Or worse they just ghost the founder instead of properly saying “NO”. It’s cowardly because they want to keep the door open in case the deal gets hot or just because they don’t want to ruffle any feathers.
But if the goal is to be of service to founders & be a true partner in their endeavor, it does not mean always being nice or positive.
Top tier investors like Vinod Khosla, Chamath Palitpapatiya & Keith Rabois are known, respected and hated equally for saying what they think. The common theme: It certainly helps to be independently wealthy so they aren’t reliant on anyone. But their “honesty” & strong opinions are also why they are considered rare authentic individuals (whatever you think of them) in a sea of bland personality-less investors. Not saying you have to be an A — hole either. Sometimes it’s also how you deliver the message too, so there is a middle ground.
Ultimately it’s a choice. In my book, better a harsh truth than a kind lie.