The Importance of Reputation and Personal Brand

In case you missed it, Saturday was fight night in NYC: VC-on-VC, Dixon vs. Robinson. Robinson as in Jim Robinson IV, managing partner at RRE Ventures. Dixon as in Chris Dixon, founder of Hunch and partner at Founder Collective. The sparks were flying…

Chris Dixon: "A guy born a millionaire who never earned a thing in his life should be really careful throwing around 'populist blather.' Fuck you."

Ouch! Chin check…

Chris Dixon: "@jdrive: Heh, yeah, i bet you had a lot of long, profound thoughts about "populist blather" growing up as the son of AMEX's CEO."

Jim Robinson IV, as it turns out, is the son of Jim Robinson III, former CEO of American Express. 

"Jdrive" retorted: "@cdixon BTW my inheritance in life to date? $35k. Nothing more. Wish I got money :) Just got the name. U don't know me; u just think u do."

In a way, I feel bad for Jdrive. What if his pa' didn't give him shit? And yet we give him shit as though he did. Maybe our assumptions are wrong (although I'm sure he got plenty of non-cash and non-monetary support along the way, especially access––the Robinson name itself is surely worth a lot in terms of doors opened and such). 

But if I'm gonna be intellectually honest here, I gotta admit that hearing Chris Dixon shame the man for being a silver spoon triggered a dopamine squirt in my brain. Class warfare, it turns out, is fun. And just about every entrepreneur on Twitter who saw the exchange thought the same thing: "Yeah, fuck that guy!" 

The next day, I got a series of DMs from a friend of his who spoke in his defense: "He actually is quiet. not trying to be a rock star blogging VC…so usually doesn't blog."

Another: "anyways, assumption is there b/c of who his dad is. but it's actually a much diff story."

To be clear, this post isn't about Jim Robinson IV per se––no, it's a post about personal branding. Jdrive is just a convenient (and tragically entertaining) example of what can happen when you neglect your personal brand. 

To be clear, Jdrive is right: We (including me) don't know the man. 

Everyone who actually knows the younger Robinson says great things about him. And RRE is consistently ranked in the top 5 VCs on The Funded by entrepreneurs. My only interaction with Jdrive was at an RRE sponsored happy hour in NYC. He mostly stood in the corner talking with other VCs. He didn't interact with us entrepreneurs much. At the time, I thought it was kind of stupid to throw an event for entrepreneurs and then spend the entire evening talking with your VC friends. Actually, I left the event thinking the guy was sort of a dick. Not for a particularly good reason, mind you, but it just seemed like he didn't care about or want to meet entrepreneurs. 

But as suggested by his defenders, there's another entirely rational explanation: Perhaps he's just not an super outgoing guy. Maybe he is, as his friend suggested, actually kind of quiet. Not everyone loves to blog and meet strangers 24/7, after all. In fact, for most people, the whole constant pitching process can be quite tiring. And maybe he's just a normal dude who doesn't fixate on putting himself out there for the whole world to see

Define Your Brand, Lest Others Do It For You

Ok, so let's see here, what happens when you Google "james robinson IV" ? First hit: a Wikipedia entry for James Robinson III, Jdrive's gazillionaire dad. Hmm. Not really the message I'd want to send if I was marketing myself to broke ass entrepreneurs piling up credit card debt and living on Ramen. Perhaps a little SEO is in order.

Ok, so let's see the guy's profile on RRE.com

Team-jim_robinson_iv"Jim Robinson is a Co-Founder & Managing Partner of RRE Ventures. He has been active within the technology community for over twenty-five years as a venture capitalist, entrepreneur and banker."

Hmm. Banker. Again, probably not a fact I'd want to highlight. Not really seeing the scrappiness here. 

I can't ding the guy for dishonesty. But he's practically teeing himself up for Chris Dixon's charge of rich boy debutante-ism. 

And then there was a blog post that made the rounds a while back: Everyone Deserves a Trophy? 

"Sometime after my generation, everybody became a winner just for trying.  Everybody got an ice cream.  Everybody who participated got a trophy.  It wasn’t about winning or losing but about trying hard.

"It sometimes feels like this attitude has crept into the psyche of some entrepreneurs.  I respect nothing more than someone who quits a safe job and takes a huge risk to start something new.  I did and I know how scary it can be.  But startups are a brutal business, where few make money and many lose."

Now, I can't help but see some irony here: VC chastises entrepreneurs for demanding undue rewards; turns around and demands special lower tax rate for himself & fellow VCs. My gut reaction: Startups are a brutal business, bro. Few make money and many lose. Sorry man. Tough it out. And pay your fucking taxes, rich boy. 
 

To be clear, there's nothing directly incompatible between opposing the new carried interest tax and this "startups are a brutal business" bit, but it does kind sound like the man is asking for a trophy. Just a little.
  

Again, to be totally clear, I don't know Jdrive the actual human being beyond the most cursory meeting and what I've seen on the internet. In fact, I'm not really talking about Jdrive the man himself so much as I am his public image. 
 

Ok, so I've busted the guy's balls enough–here's another possible (and more charitable) take on the man…
 

Jdrive is the son of a very rich man who sought not to spoil his heir apparent and as a result, gave the young Jdrive jack shit as a child, forcing him to earn his position in life. And young Jdrive grew up to be a self-made man, at least as self-made as the namesake of an AMEX CEO could be. Jdrive lived in the shadow of his father, surrounded by wealth but never having it given to him. Unlike his ever-outgoing dad (I have no idea if this is actually true), he was quiet and reserved, not one to call much attention to himself. And yet he was smart and worked hard, insistent on adhering to the meritocracy that was forced upon him. He didn't pay much attention to his internet personality until one day…
 

Again, this is all pure speculation loosely based on what others have told me. However, if his defenders are right, the truth seems closer to this latter description.
 

So what's the point? 
 

The point is that if you don't create a strong personal brand for yourself on the web, others will define it for you. And the outsider definition will not be charitable, especially if you are in a position of power. 


Honestly, I think Chris Dixon went overboard last night in telling Jdrive to fuck off (my guess: he was drunk). It was a dick move. But he's Chris fuckin Dixon, the entrepreneur's VC, the man who fights for the little guy, the man whose tweets and blog posts we've been reading for months now. We know him. We have a relationship with him. He is our friend. We cut him slack. 
 

And so we are unfair to Jim Robinson IV, a man we don't know. We think we know him––we think he's a spoiled rich boy––but we don't, and he may not be. And whose fault is that? His––and his alone, for he has not told his own story, but let others tell it for him.


If the tables turn and you get a moment in the sun, what story will the world tell about you? And whose fault will that be?


To be 100% clear, I don't pretend to know the real Jdrive one way or the other. From all reports, he is an awesome dude, which makes this weekend's kerfluffle all the more noteworthy. My critique is narrowly focused on how he's marketed himself to the entrepreneurial community and managed (or failed to manage) his personal brand. I hold no personal grudge or ill will against the man. But seriously, Chris Dixon told him to fuck off this weekend. How the hell that happened is worthy of analysis all by itself. Hence my focus on him and not some other random person.

  • Basho2

    fair point. respect that. good luck. not on twitter. dont blog. just hang out in spain. i teach at the local college and invest in some local startups (none of them done so well unfortunately .. but they are getting better).

  • Basho2

    fair point. respect that. good luck. not on twitter. dont blog. just hang out in spain. i teach at the local college and invest in some local startups (none of them done so well unfortunately .. but they are getting better).

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Funny, I don’t even own a TV and haven’t watched TV in years.
    I could totally see the generational gap being an issue. The whole personal brand/living in public thing is something that even my older siblings (i’m the youngest by >12 yrs) aren’t quite comfortable with.
    Do you have a blog? Are you on Twitter?
    Tacky DB or no, my blog, what I’ve done and my collective personal brand has gotten me from being a nobody reporter making rent by working on an ambulance in the south bronx to running a 6 person startup with an awesome technical team, most of whom I didn’t know a year or even 4 months ago. Whatever it takes my, friend. Whatever it takes.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Funny, I don’t even own a TV and haven’t watched TV in years.
    I could totally see the generational gap being an issue. The whole personal brand/living in public thing is something that even my older siblings (i’m the youngest by >12 yrs) aren’t quite comfortable with.
    Do you have a blog? Are you on Twitter?
    Tacky DB or no, my blog, what I’ve done and my collective personal brand has gotten me from being a nobody reporter making rent by working on an ambulance in the south bronx to running a 6 person startup with an awesome technical team, most of whom I didn’t know a year or even 4 months ago. Whatever it takes my, friend. Whatever it takes.

  • Basho2

    No I am not an active entrepreneur any longer. I used to be and sold my company for a few hundred M during the first dot com boom. Since then I’ve been basically hanging out .. investing here and there. Spend time with my family. I live in Spain. Grew up in Ohio. I came to know of you through your personal branding efforts ..a link here, a link there etc. and you are right there are a million new entrepreneurs out there and your name / brand is known – others are not. That in itself has a $ value attached to it.
    Still you strike me as a tacky douchebag. Probably a generational thing. I see all these people on Bachelor and Reality TV and they seem quite popular etc.

  • Basho2

    No I am not an active entrepreneur any longer. I used to be and sold my company for a few hundred M during the first dot com boom. Since then I’ve been basically hanging out .. investing here and there. Spend time with my family. I live in Spain. Grew up in Ohio. I came to know of you through your personal branding efforts ..a link here, a link there etc. and you are right there are a million new entrepreneurs out there and your name / brand is known – others are not. That in itself has a $ value attached to it.
    Still you strike me as a tacky douchebag. Probably a generational thing. I see all these people on Bachelor and Reality TV and they seem quite popular etc.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Interesting. Well, I guess that’s what happens when you’re a polarizing figure. Hmf.
    What’s your background? Are you an entrepreneur? Just curious.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Interesting. Well, I guess that’s what happens when you’re a polarizing figure. Hmf.
    What’s your background? Are you an entrepreneur? Just curious.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Well, at some point along the way, I realized that if I didn’t play offense in life, I’d end up hosed. The forces of capitalism are at work always, and you can either actively harness them to your advantage or passively be subject to them. There is no other option, unless of course you have inherited wealth.
    I think the key is that, despite all this bullshit, we stay true to ourselves.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Well, at some point along the way, I realized that if I didn’t play offense in life, I’d end up hosed. The forces of capitalism are at work always, and you can either actively harness them to your advantage or passively be subject to them. There is no other option, unless of course you have inherited wealth.
    I think the key is that, despite all this bullshit, we stay true to ourselves.

  • Basho2

    Unfortunately yeah. Maybe it’s just me. I would hate to have a beer with you. But I am sure you will be successful and it’s not like there is any ill will – as you point out “I don’t know you”. And anywayz I am here on your blog commenting aren’t I? It’s like that annoying douche bag in high school but he has your attention which may or may not be your intention.

  • Basho2

    Unfortunately yeah. Maybe it’s just me. I would hate to have a beer with you. But I am sure you will be successful and it’s not like there is any ill will – as you point out “I don’t know you”. And anywayz I am here on your blog commenting aren’t I? It’s like that annoying douche bag in high school but he has your attention which may or may not be your intention.

  • Basho

    Well said. I agree. It’s a personality thing though. Take writers for example / I think way before “living in public” writers like Salinger and Pynchon saw this coming of the age of celebrity and shied away. On the flipside of the tacky spectrum you have Bachelor that Basho2 writes about…
    I TOTALLY see where you are coming from man. But some part of me cannot but help feel…I don’t know sad. Maybe its my own cultural hang up. What happened to people just being people. The forces of capitalism have turned cultural and we are brands like everything else in the market economy.

  • Basho

    Well said. I agree. It’s a personality thing though. Take writers for example / I think way before “living in public” writers like Salinger and Pynchon saw this coming of the age of celebrity and shied away. On the flipside of the tacky spectrum you have Bachelor that Basho2 writes about…
    I TOTALLY see where you are coming from man. But some part of me cannot but help feel…I don’t know sad. Maybe its my own cultural hang up. What happened to people just being people. The forces of capitalism have turned cultural and we are brands like everything else in the market economy.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Really?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    This goes back to the whole “living in public” debate. In many ways, the internet has forced us to live in public. When people want to find out about you, they Google you. And what they find––or don’t find––will shape their image of you.
    Obviously, people working in different sectors of the economy are more or less exposed to this. For venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs, your brand matters a lot. The internet is how people discover you. If you work at McDonald’s, well, it’s less of an issue.
    I mean, you can be shy about it if you want, but that’s not my style. I think it’s worth openly discussing and optimizing, as it effects you in a real way––this blog post here being a case in point.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Really?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    This goes back to the whole “living in public” debate. In many ways, the internet has forced us to live in public. When people want to find out about you, they Google you. And what they find––or don’t find––will shape their image of you.
    Obviously, people working in different sectors of the economy are more or less exposed to this. For venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs, your brand matters a lot. The internet is how people discover you. If you work at McDonald’s, well, it’s less of an issue.
    I mean, you can be shy about it if you want, but that’s not my style. I think it’s worth openly discussing and optimizing, as it effects you in a real way––this blog post here being a case in point.

  • Basho2

    The way I perceive your “personal brand” = Douchebag who is trying too hard. Gets you noticed though. Which is what you want. All good. It’s like the kids on Bachelor and other reality TV shows. This is America.

  • Basho2

    The way I perceive your “personal brand” = Douchebag who is trying too hard. Gets you noticed though. Which is what you want. All good. It’s like the kids on Bachelor and other reality TV shows. This is America.

  • basho

    Hey Matt –
    I came to know of your blog through your “personal brand” – honestly the first time I heard of that phrase was here in America. Growing up the UK it was just considered bad manners and tacky (not being rude just making a cultural observation). Yet of course rock stars, film stars and others obviously have carefully cultivated brands. In today’s social world we are all “brands”? Who you are as a person may be different from a mohawk wearing, f-bomb dropping, “bad-ass” or whatever you decide makes rational sense for your “personal / corporate brand.” Maybe that’s who you are as a person and it’s an authentic “brand” .. maybe its not.
    I guess at some level to see someone grasping for “success” and being so calculated and open about it rubs people the wrong way. It’s kind of hypocritical though. There is nothing wrong with that. Some super elite white kid from the upper east side who goes to a top private school and then to Harvard etc. has it all set up for him so why deny a kid like you reaching for the brass ring. That’s what America is about right?
    Still it rubs people the wrong way. Even in America.

  • basho

    Hey Matt –
    I came to know of your blog through your “personal brand” – honestly the first time I heard of that phrase was here in America. Growing up the UK it was just considered bad manners and tacky (not being rude just making a cultural observation). Yet of course rock stars, film stars and others obviously have carefully cultivated brands. In today’s social world we are all “brands”? Who you are as a person may be different from a mohawk wearing, f-bomb dropping, “bad-ass” or whatever you decide makes rational sense for your “personal / corporate brand.” Maybe that’s who you are as a person and it’s an authentic “brand” .. maybe its not.
    I guess at some level to see someone grasping for “success” and being so calculated and open about it rubs people the wrong way. It’s kind of hypocritical though. There is nothing wrong with that. Some super elite white kid from the upper east side who goes to a top private school and then to Harvard etc. has it all set up for him so why deny a kid like you reaching for the brass ring. That’s what America is about right?
    Still it rubs people the wrong way. Even in America.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Charlie, look dude, the whole point––in fact the title––of this post is “personal branding,” ie cultivating a public persona. Persona is different than person, a point I think I made repeatedly in this post. My critique obviously and clearly related to Jim’s persona, not his person.
    And hey numbnuts, this post was provoked! Chris Dixon told the guy “Fuck You” on the public internet. This is newsworthy and unusual. Me following up with a dissection of the man’s persona is, I think, a reasonable thing. Unless of course you want to argue that no one should ever judge a person based on public image…
    The fact is that the man gets judged by people with less-than-perfect information all the time. This is normal. And i think i game him not just a fair shake but the benefit of the doubt. To wit, he invited me over for beers.
    Also, if you really want to unload on someone for “Shoot first, get the real story later” behavior with regards to Jdrive, go write an angry comment on Chris Dixon’s blog. See what he says.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Charlie, look dude, the whole point––in fact the title––of this post is “personal branding,” ie cultivating a public persona. Persona is different than person, a point I think I made repeatedly in this post. My critique obviously and clearly related to Jim’s persona, not his person.
    And hey numbnuts, this post was provoked! Chris Dixon told the guy “Fuck You” on the public internet. This is newsworthy and unusual. Me following up with a dissection of the man’s persona is, I think, a reasonable thing. Unless of course you want to argue that no one should ever judge a person based on public image…
    The fact is that the man gets judged by people with less-than-perfect information all the time. This is normal. And i think i game him not just a fair shake but the benefit of the doubt. To wit, he invited me over for beers.
    Also, if you really want to unload on someone for “Shoot first, get the real story later” behavior with regards to Jdrive, go write an angry comment on Chris Dixon’s blog. See what he says.

  • http://www.thisisgoingtobebig.com Charlie

    How come you don’t know Jim? Seems like you would have pitched every last VC you could find before dismissing the NYC VC/angel scene.
    He’s pretty accessible, and he was the closest I got to getting Path 101 funded by a VC. He took the time to get to know us–a lot of time for that matter… more than any other VC in the city did. Talk to Noah Glass from GoMobo about him, or others that he’s on the board of. If you’re friends with him on Foursquare, you’ll notice him occasionally sleeping at the office when he works late and decides it isn’t worth commuting all the way home. Name me another VC who pulls all-nighters at the office. He def has a couch and a TV in there. He’s reblogging articles at all hours of the night… up reading everything he can find.
    You define personal brand as what you see as an “outsider”, but the truth is, you haven’t really taken the time to build individual relationships with people to be an “insider” yourself. You’re judging people by what you skim off their blogs… but Jim’s been participating in social media long before anyone in your peer group even heard of Chris Dixon.
    Jim’s actually a hacker. He used to write code and now he hacks trucks. He’s building some kind of 4×4 RV thing… actually I think it has 6 wheels or something. It’s crazy.
    I’ve been doing venture/startup stuff in NYC for over eight years.. and in that time, I’ve taken the time to get to know as many people as I can… but actually get to know them. I’m not sure you know what that means.
    It’s not a matter of whether I agree or disagree with what you have to say–it’s just that you really don’t take the time to research what you put out. Shoot first, get the real story later. It’s just plain lazy…and acting on really bad information is not the sign of a good decision maker and a good entrepreneur.

  • http://www.thisisgoingtobebig.com Charlie

    How come you don’t know Jim? Seems like you would have pitched every last VC you could find before dismissing the NYC VC/angel scene.
    He’s pretty accessible, and he was the closest I got to getting Path 101 funded by a VC. He took the time to get to know us–a lot of time for that matter… more than any other VC in the city did. Talk to Noah Glass from GoMobo about him, or others that he’s on the board of. If you’re friends with him on Foursquare, you’ll notice him occasionally sleeping at the office when he works late and decides it isn’t worth commuting all the way home. Name me another VC who pulls all-nighters at the office. He def has a couch and a TV in there. He’s reblogging articles at all hours of the night… up reading everything he can find.
    You define personal brand as what you see as an “outsider”, but the truth is, you haven’t really taken the time to build individual relationships with people to be an “insider” yourself. You’re judging people by what you skim off their blogs… but Jim’s been participating in social media long before anyone in your peer group even heard of Chris Dixon.
    Jim’s actually a hacker. He used to write code and now he hacks trucks. He’s building some kind of 4×4 RV thing… actually I think it has 6 wheels or something. It’s crazy.
    I’ve been doing venture/startup stuff in NYC for over eight years.. and in that time, I’ve taken the time to get to know as many people as I can… but actually get to know them. I’m not sure you know what that means.
    It’s not a matter of whether I agree or disagree with what you have to say–it’s just that you really don’t take the time to research what you put out. Shoot first, get the real story later. It’s just plain lazy…and acting on really bad information is not the sign of a good decision maker and a good entrepreneur.

  • Reader

    That can’t be true, because there will always be some random person who hates you because you disagree with his politics or because you had rich parents. Do you care that every person who reads your blog agrees with you? Aren’t they potential employees or customers?
    Second, Fred Wilson isn’t the only VC (or even the best VC) in the world. Not everyone blogs everything as their source of new deals. As an entrepreneur, your best information (and a VC’s best source of new deals) comes from people who have worked with that investor directly, not from a third-hand impression of their public persona. It certainly doesn’t hurt to be widely known, but what matters is being widely known where it counts. Trust me, some of the most successful VCs in America you couldn’t pick out of a crowd.

  • Reader

    That can’t be true, because there will always be some random person who hates you because you disagree with his politics or because you had rich parents. Do you care that every person who reads your blog agrees with you? Aren’t they potential employees or customers?
    Second, Fred Wilson isn’t the only VC (or even the best VC) in the world. Not everyone blogs everything as their source of new deals. As an entrepreneur, your best information (and a VC’s best source of new deals) comes from people who have worked with that investor directly, not from a third-hand impression of their public persona. It certainly doesn’t hurt to be widely known, but what matters is being widely known where it counts. Trust me, some of the most successful VCs in America you couldn’t pick out of a crowd.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Considering the importance of dealflow, I think if you’re a VC it actually matters what random people on the internet think of you, as that’s where your customers are––and by customers, I mean entrepreneurs.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Considering the importance of dealflow, I think if you’re a VC it actually matters what random people on the internet think of you, as that’s where your customers are––and by customers, I mean entrepreneurs.

  • Reader

    I’m sorry, what? It’s ok to trash a guy with ad hominem attacks–assuming he’s a dilettante when you don’t know him at all–because he doesn’t have a strong “personal brand?” For the sin of not posting pictures of everything he eats and not twittering every last useless thought that pops into his head, whatever he gets, he deserves?
    LPs may want their VCs to spend time actually working with portfolio companies and finding interesting companies (as JDR IV appears to have done), rather than worrying about what a bunch of strangers think about them on the internet.
    Also, so what if JDR IV grew up rich? Did he choose his parents any more than you chose yours? We play the hand we’re dealt, and by all accounts he’s genuinely played it diligently and honestly. If that’s the reason for your animus towards him and towards his position on the issue–his financially provident accident of birth–then his complaint about the “populist” nature of the argument (vs. its merit) is more than fair.

  • Reader

    I’m sorry, what? It’s ok to trash a guy with ad hominem attacks–assuming he’s a dilettante when you don’t know him at all–because he doesn’t have a strong “personal brand?” For the sin of not posting pictures of everything he eats and not twittering every last useless thought that pops into his head, whatever he gets, he deserves?
    LPs may want their VCs to spend time actually working with portfolio companies and finding interesting companies (as JDR IV appears to have done), rather than worrying about what a bunch of strangers think about them on the internet.
    Also, so what if JDR IV grew up rich? Did he choose his parents any more than you chose yours? We play the hand we’re dealt, and by all accounts he’s genuinely played it diligently and honestly. If that’s the reason for your animus towards him and towards his position on the issue–his financially provident accident of birth–then his complaint about the “populist” nature of the argument (vs. its merit) is more than fair.

  • John Q

    This exchange is actually a *great* example of who the *bad* investor/vc is. Which one of these two folks would you rather have on your board? Which would be a better board member as your start-up goes through its inevitable ups & downs?

  • John Q

    This exchange is actually a *great* example of who the *bad* investor/vc is. Which one of these two folks would you rather have on your board? Which would be a better board member as your start-up goes through its inevitable ups & downs?

  • F Smith

    Online branding is great but it’s also sad that having the loudest megaphone is all it takes to be credible. Chris Dixon’s F-bomb was unnecessary and immature. It’s good to play up his entrepreneur friendly populist B.S., but doesn’t strike me as professional and his arguments don’t usually strike me as very well thought out. Sure, it’s edgy and whatnot. All lame crap that wantrapreneurs fall for.
    Secondly, Jim Robinson should not have to apologize or feel bad for growing up with money. He’d be an idiot not to use connections, money, etc if he has them to improve his lot in life further. The only people who complain about those with money are those that don’t have it. Makes these folks feel good about oneself to feel like they didn’t earn it or whatever. At the end of the day, the rich guys go back to their nice house and you go back to your studio on the LES. Can delude yourself all you want but that ain’t the outcome you were dreaming of when you lie awake on your futon. (Matt – that last piece is not aimed at you but the haters)
    In closing, Chris Dixon is a douche.

  • F Smith

    Online branding is great but it’s also sad that having the loudest megaphone is all it takes to be credible. Chris Dixon’s F-bomb was unnecessary and immature. It’s good to play up his entrepreneur friendly populist B.S., but doesn’t strike me as professional and his arguments don’t usually strike me as very well thought out. Sure, it’s edgy and whatnot. All lame crap that wantrapreneurs fall for.
    Secondly, Jim Robinson should not have to apologize or feel bad for growing up with money. He’d be an idiot not to use connections, money, etc if he has them to improve his lot in life further. The only people who complain about those with money are those that don’t have it. Makes these folks feel good about oneself to feel like they didn’t earn it or whatever. At the end of the day, the rich guys go back to their nice house and you go back to your studio on the LES. Can delude yourself all you want but that ain’t the outcome you were dreaming of when you lie awake on your futon. (Matt – that last piece is not aimed at you but the haters)
    In closing, Chris Dixon is a douche.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Chris is from Ohio, if I remember correctly. Parents are school teachers.
    But yes, both Señor Dixon and Jdrive are HBS alum. Funny how you’d never think that from the twitter fighting/class warfare.
    Good to hear u took my advice and are finding it helpful. Feels good to do some good in the world.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Chris is from Ohio, if I remember correctly. Parents are school teachers.
    But yes, both Señor Dixon and Jdrive are HBS alum. Funny how you’d never think that from the twitter fighting/class warfare.
    Good to hear u took my advice and are finding it helpful. Feels good to do some good in the world.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Yep, saw ur tweet and seconded it. In fact, it partially inspired this post.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    Yep, saw ur tweet and seconded it. In fact, it partially inspired this post.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    I think the key lesson/take away is the old adage: The best defense is a good offense. Passivity does not pay.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    I think the key lesson/take away is the old adage: The best defense is a good offense. Passivity does not pay.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    And an increasingly important skill at that..

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1233532474s12769 Matt Mireles

    And an increasingly important skill at that..

  • http://profile.typepad.com/shawnkolodny1 Shawnkolodny

    You are 100% correct it is all about personal branding. Think of personal branding like Yelp reviews, if you have lots of reviews, one bad one doesn’t affect your image, brand or rating at all (assuming the others are positive), if you have very few reviews, one bad review can really affect and even destroy your brand.
    Other than the IVth at the end of James Robinson’s name, I would venture to bet that Chris’s and Mr Robinson’s backgrounds aren’t that different. I don’t know Chris’s parents, nor do I think it is relevant, but Chris went to Columbia, then Harvard business school then worked at Bessemer before he started his start up. I would venture to bet that he wasn’t eating raman and maxing out his credit cards at his scrappy start up.
    But it is our relationship with Chris that makes the difference. I don’t know Chris personally, but I have seen him speak, and I follow his blog, his tweets, so I think I know him. That connection makes a difference and gives him lots of credibility. We know what he has done for his companies, we know his opinions, we know is actions. For all I know Mr Robinson might be great with start ups, be the greatest advisor and investor in the world, (going to start following him now) but right now I/we just don’t know him, but I/we do feel like we know Chris. It is Chris’s engagement in the start up community , that makes most start ups want him as an investor, and why he gets the deal flow to match.
    That said I pass on the advice that you gave me, start a blog! Own your personal brand, own your personal message or beware; someone will create your image for you
    Thanks again for the advice!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/shawnkolodny1 Shawnkolodny

    You are 100% correct it is all about personal branding. Think of personal branding like Yelp reviews, if you have lots of reviews, one bad one doesn’t affect your image, brand or rating at all (assuming the others are positive), if you have very few reviews, one bad review can really affect and even destroy your brand.
    Other than the IVth at the end of James Robinson’s name, I would venture to bet that Chris’s and Mr Robinson’s backgrounds aren’t that different. I don’t know Chris’s parents, nor do I think it is relevant, but Chris went to Columbia, then Harvard business school then worked at Bessemer before he started his start up. I would venture to bet that he wasn’t eating raman and maxing out his credit cards at his scrappy start up.
    But it is our relationship with Chris that makes the difference. I don’t know Chris personally, but I have seen him speak, and I follow his blog, his tweets, so I think I know him. That connection makes a difference and gives him lots of credibility. We know what he has done for his companies, we know his opinions, we know is actions. For all I know Mr Robinson might be great with start ups, be the greatest advisor and investor in the world, (going to start following him now) but right now I/we just don’t know him, but I/we do feel like we know Chris. It is Chris’s engagement in the start up community , that makes most start ups want him as an investor, and why he gets the deal flow to match.
    That said I pass on the advice that you gave me, start a blog! Own your personal brand, own your personal message or beware; someone will create your image for you
    Thanks again for the advice!

  • http://philmichaelson.com Phil Michaelson

    Completely agree – if you don’t define your brand or book cover, others will do it for you and you might not like the outcome. I gave @jdrive that advice yesterday http://twitter.com/philmichaelson/status/15586372160
    OF course, you can’t ever get too far from the truth without events/facts bringing you back (BP tried to become “Beyond Petroleum”…). So, the personal story has to be crafted around the facts.
    Phil

  • http://philmichaelson.com Phil Michaelson

    Completely agree – if you don’t define your brand or book cover, others will do it for you and you might not like the outcome. I gave @jdrive that advice yesterday http://twitter.com/philmichaelson/status/15586372160
    OF course, you can’t ever get too far from the truth without events/facts bringing you back (BP tried to become “Beyond Petroleum”…). So, the personal story has to be crafted around the facts.
    Phil

  • Richard Bachner

    For all we know, despite not having millionaire money, Jim Robinson IV might still be a spoiled brat on the inside. It’s not really about the amount of money that you have, it’s about the mentality. I don’t know Jim so I’ll decline to assess his character further. For all I know, he’s a really nice guy.
    What’s important to realize is though is that your reputation is what people think about you. You can affect that greatly with individual acts of kindness, a nice word to somebody, and the way you treat others around you. But the internet complicates things greatly because if somebody has a grudge on you they can affect you severely. Google never forgets anything anybody posts online. Good luck getting your phone number removed from http://www.dirtyphonebook.com or anything. And that Unvarnished is also coming soon.
    So the future of personal branding and how others perceive you is in question. People usually Google people before job interviews, dates, etc so how these new technologies affect your life is probably a really important social issue. In the long-run, I think the younger generations are going to understand how to deal with this better than older folks that run companies because they grew up sharing everything online with Facebook and know that not everything online about somebody is necessarily true and that you have to verify everything.

  • Richard Bachner

    For all we know, despite not having millionaire money, Jim Robinson IV might still be a spoiled brat on the inside. It’s not really about the amount of money that you have, it’s about the mentality. I don’t know Jim so I’ll decline to assess his character further. For all I know, he’s a really nice guy.
    What’s important to realize is though is that your reputation is what people think about you. You can affect that greatly with individual acts of kindness, a nice word to somebody, and the way you treat others around you. But the internet complicates things greatly because if somebody has a grudge on you they can affect you severely. Google never forgets anything anybody posts online. Good luck getting your phone number removed from http://www.dirtyphonebook.com or anything. And that Unvarnished is also coming soon.
    So the future of personal branding and how others perceive you is in question. People usually Google people before job interviews, dates, etc so how these new technologies affect your life is probably a really important social issue. In the long-run, I think the younger generations are going to understand how to deal with this better than older folks that run companies because they grew up sharing everything online with Facebook and know that not everything online about somebody is necessarily true and that you have to verify everything.

  • http://www.leftbraintorightbrain.com ScotterC

    Great post. Loved following the exchange this weekend on Chris Dixon’s blog. Also personal branding is certainly one of the reasons I started blogging recently. I’d like to note though that it is a true skill to recognize one’s own personal brand from an outside perspective. I have found it can be rather difficult to gauge the contrast between the inherent information you know versus the information you are intentionally transmitting. One must understand that our web personas need to be built from the ground up. Nothing can be assumed.

  • http://www.leftbraintorightbrain.com ScotterC

    Great post. Loved following the exchange this weekend on Chris Dixon’s blog. Also personal branding is certainly one of the reasons I started blogging recently. I’d like to note though that it is a true skill to recognize one’s own personal brand from an outside perspective. I have found it can be rather difficult to gauge the contrast between the inherent information you know versus the information you are intentionally transmitting. One must understand that our web personas need to be built from the ground up. Nothing can be assumed.