Bryan Roberts of Venrock on Seeing Problems as Opportunities

This interview with Bryan Roberts, a partner at Venrock, a venture capital firm, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

Q. What were your early years like?

A. I was born in Manhattan, and we lived on the Upper East Side until I was about five. We moved after an incident when I was walking my bike to Central Park with my mom, and I got hit by a taxi.

I was fine, but the bike was a bit mangled. I have this memory of looking up at a fender. Soon after, my mom said, “We’re out of here.”

We moved to Alpine, N.J., just north of the George Washington Bridge. It was in the middle of 300 acres of woods, and there were about ten families or so that rented places around there. We were just a bunch of kids rambling around. 

I loved problem solving as a kid. That’s probably the thread through most of my life. How do you build this? How do I get from here to there? The actual content of the problem matters less than the need to puzzle through something.

Tell me more about your parents.

My dad is an infectious-disease doctor, and my mom is in theater. They’re the two most polar-opposite people in the universe. My mom’s broadly intelligent, and my dad is just deeply awesome at diagnosing diseases.

How have they influenced your leadership style?

The biggest thing is thinking about others more than yourself. In my line of work, if you put your company ahead of you, you’re going to do fine. And I try to always interact with people who put other people front and center, rather than themselves.

People who are self-directed generally gather accomplishments and accolades and are very happy to tell you about them. When people are company- or mission-directed, it manifests as humility, and they generally push credit off onto other people.

Read the full article here: http://nyti.ms/2l1KDLt

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