I wrote a post a few months ago about investing in dungeons. It is was one of my best performing posts, so I wanted to share another piece of advice I’ve learned on my journey in startups and investing. Today’s lesson is a push for more investors to invest in sparkles. And when I say sparkles, it really means invest in founders with a sparkle in their eye.
In today’s world, most people start out with a zest for life and a sparkle in their eye, but let the world beat it out of them over time. The sparkle in their eye slowly fades away until it’s like it never existed. Yet every so often you meet a founder who has seemed to hold on to this characteristic. They are giddy like a kid, at peace like a monk, and more excited than anyone to live their life. I describe people as having a sparkle in their eyes. And when I meet one, I go out of my way to help them, regardless of what they are working on. Why? A few reasons.
First off, these types of people are contagious. They make others around them feel better and happier, and generally are well-liked because of this. This likely means that this person will be a world-class recruiter, which at the end of the day, is all a startup CEO really does. These people can be taught about business, fundraising, and networking. But experts in those disciplines cannot be taught to have a sparkle in their eye if it’s already lost.
I’d argue that the world of the elite teaches young minds to get rid of their sparkle in pursuit of money, fame, and success. That the sparkle is childish and not worth having as an adult. Ironically, I have a strong thesis that the sparkle is what leads to success and prosperity, not the other way around. Often when people find this out, they feel like it’s too late for them. So another reason I like people with a sparkle in their eye is that they have been smart and brave enough to reject the common narrative and create their own for their whole life.
I would say the most important reason to invest in sparkles is that I truly think these people could pay you back with more than just financial returns. Next time you meet someone who loves to smile, is full of energy, and drinks out of a large cup of life, don’t be so quick to dismiss them as foolish or naive as the world has trained you to think. If you look in their eyes, you may just find hope for the future or optimism about life that you had at some point but lost. By investing in these people, you may just find your own spark for life come back as well. And I think the financial returns will take care of themselves. This is why I suggest always invest in sparkles; Not for them, but for you.