Zach Ware

We vs They

Consultants have a habit of saying “we” when talking about company strategy. They co-opt themselves onto your team and make suggests like “we should target that market” or “our revenues are looking good.”

The word choice is part of a deliberate strategy to create a warm, fuzzy feeling in an otherwise transactional relationship.

I have the opposite view. It’s creepy. I notice it every time a consultant does it and it makes me feel weird.

Recently I’ve observed some investors doing it when describing big company successes for companies they are involved in, often in blog posts. We raised a big round. We launched a killer feature.

100% of my focus as an investor is on helping our portfolio companies succeed. Sometimes I help raise a round. Sometimes I help solve problems. Sometimes I work on product design.

But when most great deeds are done, the great work was the output of the great team. They did it. I’m proud of them.

Sometimes I say we when we actually did the work. There are times when I get to be a part of a problem-solving team. And in those cases and with those specific accomplishments, I’ve earned the right to say we. Maybe the investors I’m thinking of did as well.

Most of the time, even if I’m a company director, I’m a bit player. I didn’t make magic happen. I helped. They should be congratulated.

First published on February 26, 2016