First Steps to Angel Investing

And the Thrill of Being All In

“I’m thinking this investing in startups is exciting,” said my good friend.

Ted is a senior executive for an F100 company. As we were talking at a Christmas party, he told me he’ll be retiring next year at 58 years old. To me he looks 40.

Great Leader, Great Angel

I consider him a great leader. He is intelligent, creative, loves people, and has terrific interpersonal skills. I wonder where God will call him to serve. Maybe angel investing?

“Why do you think being an angel is exciting?” I asked.

“You are talking to men and women who are filled with big ideas on changing the world. They must be fun to talk to,” he said.

“They are, but investing in these deals is very risky,” I said.

Ted had keenly zeroed in on what makes angel investing so much fun. He said, “It is the entrepreneurs. How often in life do you meet people who will risk everything, including their time, money, and reputation, for an idea?”

That Entrepreneurial Thrill

Ted is right. Everybody has ideas, but entrepreneurs do something about it. They take action. They don’t sit and think. They do. And while they are doing, they are telling everyone how great it is going to be. How everyone’s lives will be changed.

When I am talking to an entrepreneur, my lungs fill with air. I think more clearly. I get outside myself. The entrepreneur moves my thinking from what is to what can be.

“Imaging the possibilities,” she says. And I do. I imagine. I dream. All because she challenged me to dream. This is what it means to hang out with entrepreneurs.

Ted thinks the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but so do I.

First Class Luxury

When I think about Ted, I think how cool it would be to have his life. He flies first class worldwide and stays at the finest hotels. He is treated like royalty when interacting with his direct reports. They have unbelievable sales conferences with the best minds presenting their newest ideas.

He is surrounded by really bright people who get stuff done. He is consistently challenged because of this.

People who make it to the top of an F100 are not only doers but thinkers, leaders, and presenters. They were developed as leaders, and they know how to develop and motivate leaders.

There are resources. Yes. Lots of resources. I’m not saying he can be fiscally irresponsible in his role. What I am saying is when he has a new initiative or business he is launching, he has the money and people talent to get it done.

And he gets paid every week. That’s right. Every week he is employed, he can count on a sizable amount of cash being deposited into his personal bank account. It has been over 25 years since I enjoyed this experience.

First World Problems

In talking to Ted, I said, “I haven’t seen you in a while. I assumed you were setting up your new house in Florida in preparation for your retirement. I figured you were having fun doing it.”

He said, “I am doing that, but it has been stressful. For example, I’ve had to wait over six months just to get a slip at the marina.”

“That’s awful,” I responded. Then I laughed and said, “That is way beyond a first world problem. You are being stressed by problems one-tenth of one percent of the population has to deal with.”

He was embarrassed when he realized what he had said.

Ted is a solid, faith-filled man from the midwest. In spite of his comment of the slip for his boat, he carries the values of his upbringing. He is a God, family, work kind of guy.

He is still madly in love with his wife of 35 years, has raised great kids who contribute to society, and is now a grandfather. It seems to me, as I look over the fence, he has it all. He even has a pension!

Angel Investing Needs More Teds

Angel investing takes a great man like Ted and humbles him, challenges him, and motivates him. He will find fulfillment as an angel if he chooses to do it. And it will also give him the opportunity to serve with the gifts and experiences God’s given him.

He will make a big difference in entrepreneurs’ lives and the lives of their employees. Why? Because he builds leaders.

Ted has everything he needs to enter angel investing. He has the right motivation, the character, the experience, and the money. He’ll just have to get used to being paid every seven to ten years instead of weekly.

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