Mishaps in networking with important people

At a conference this week, I introduced myself to two young men. I found out they were venture capitalists, and I began to tell them what I do when one of them cut me off. “We live in Chicago,” he said. Oh. Okay.

I shifted gears and jokingly repeated an observation that I had heard from another conference goer. “So, some people say you all are like pirates,” I said. Silence. I thought it was a joke. The dagger look told me otherwise. A sore topic, I guess. I had no idea.

We talked for quite a bit longer and came to the mutual understanding that venture capitalists are, in fact, not like pirates, and I realized that one of them was pretty good-looking.

On the back their business cards, I wrote short notes to remind me of who they were. “Cute venture capitalist,” on one and “not a pirate,” on the other. Just to be clear.

The conference ended with numerous courageous spirits presenting at an event called “Elevator Pitch Olympics.” Participants pitched their business plan in ninety seconds, and then a judging panel graded their hearts and souls on a 1-5 scale.

As the first participant ended his ninety seconds, the judging panel wrote their scores on small whiteboards and held them up for the audience. Businessmen and investors around the hall yelled, “Darker markers!” and “We can’t see!”

“I can see just fine,” I replied to those around me. “You all need contacts!” The guy behind me persisted, “I can’t see!”

“What? Is my head too big?” I joked. He laughed and in an instant I knew exactly who he was. I had just made apparent to one of the biggest players in Madison that my head might be big. And that he could be blind.

I gave my brightest smile and turned back around, writing to my friend next to me, “Oh. My. God.”