大约一年半前，我从柏尚风险投资公司（Bessemer Venture Partners）辞职加入了Pinterest。自那以来，我遇到过、也接到过一些年轻风投人或MBA们的电话，询问我是从风投转型到营运的心得。迄今为止，我遇到过的最常见的问题大概就是“你从风投行业学到了什么真正有用的东西？”
3.我没有专长的领域。风投资本家很少专长某一领域。当然 -- 我很了解电子商务生态系统，我见识过大量的消费公司和广告科技公司，但这都不比不上在谷歌（Google）工作几年。但凡事总有个开始...
It's been more than a year and a half since I left Bessemer Venture Partners to join Pinterest. Since then, I've taken quite a few meetings and phone calls from junior VCs or MBAs asking about my transition from VC to operating. By far, the most common question I get from this bunch is something along the lines of, "Did you learn anything actually useful in VC?"
1. I learned how to ask the right questions. Anyone can ask questions. But learning how to ask the right questions -- to use questions as a mechanism to uncover the hidden truth in a company's business model, or the tradeoffs in an engineer's architecture, is something that comes with training. VCs spend a huge amount of their time asking questions, and thus learn the craft of asking the right ones. This skill has been enormously valuable to me as I transitioned to Pinterest.
2. I learned how to read people. In my first performance review at Bessemer, people judgment was one of my weaknesses. I'd now say it's one of my strengths. As a VC, you're constantly meeting founders and building your pattern recognition for reading people. This skillset is particularly useful when you're in a business or corporate development role but, as with asking the right questions, it's one of those horizontal skills that will serve you anywhere.
3. I learned how to learn. In VC, you're constantly ramping up in a new area. Each company you evaluate comes with its own ecosystem that needs to be understood. Similarly, trends in the tech ecosystem turn over so quickly that, if you ever stop adapting and learning, you'll quickly become a dinosaur and won't know a Snapchat when you meet one. That drive to constantly learn will help you adapt to new environments and challenges.
There's a flipside to these three though:
1. In startups, you've got to answer the questions. One thing I learned early on at Pinterest is that my muscle for asking questions was a lot stronger than my muscle for answering them. As with asking questions, there's an art to answering questions well. It's been good to exercise this skill.
2. I didn't learn how to read an organization. VC firms tend to be smaller partnerships. Although Bessemer was about 45 people when I left, I was never in an office with more than 10 people. As Pinterest has grown from 30-odd people when I joined to more than 200, I've had to learn how to navigate a company. People who have come from larger companies definitely have a leg up in this regard.
3. I'm not specialized. VCs rarely specialize. Sure -- I knew the e-commerce ecosystem cold, met with countless consumer companies, and quite a few adtech companies, but that doesn't compare to spending several years working at Google. But you've got to start somewhere ...
Sarah Tavel works in business and corporate development at Pinterest, after spending six years with Bessemer Venture Partners.