Parrish: I know you’ve said in the past you [like] Buffet’s criteria for evaluating people, which is the combination of intelligence, energy, and integrity.
What predictive signals do you pay attention to for each? How do you determine if you can trust someone? A large part of your job [at AngelList] is that, right?
Ravikant: That’s the hardest one. Integrity is the hardest one. Integrity usually comes out in two ways. One is long-term, which is you’ve known somebody for a while and you kind of know how they think about things.
The more interesting one, there’s a short-term one, which is you just kind of see how they treat other people. There are lots and lots of people who will not screw-over, screw-over is a strong word, but they will do something that is self-dealing or slightly unethical relative to another business partner.
The whole time they’ll say to you, nudge nudge, wink, wink, “I’m taking advantage of that person because they deserve it. You’re my friend and I would never do that to you.”
I have great people in my life who are extremely successful, very desirable, like everybody wants to be their friend, very smart.
Yet, I’ve seen them do one or two things that are slightly not great to other people.
The first time I’ll tell them. I’ll go up and I’ll say, “Hey, I don’t think you should do that to that other person. Not because you won’t get away with it. You will get away with it, but because it will hurt you in the end.”
Not in some cosmic, karma kind of way, but I believe that deep down we all know who we are. You cannot hide anything from yourself. Your own failures are written within your psyche and they are obvious to you. If you have too many of these moral shortcomings, you will not respect yourself. The worst outcome in this world is not having self-esteem. If you don’t love yourself, who will?
I think you just have to be very careful about doing things that you are fundamentally not going to be proud of because they will damage you.
The first time around, I will warn them. By the way, nobody changes.
Then I just kind of distance myself from them. I sort of cut them out of my life.