The great 2020 knowledge exchange

How much can you learn in a year? That depends on your mindset – but perhaps 2020’s unique challenges gave us an even greater knowledge exchange. We learned a tremendous amount from others, shared our own expertise, and expanded our minds in new ways. As we celebrate Operator Collective’s first birthday, let’s look back on all we learned. 

We started out with value learning

We kicked off the year by offering tips to build a thriving community from scratch and discussing how we brought so many first time investors into venture capital. We even threw back to the OG feminist movies that moved us. Inspiring topics – clearly we had no idea what was coming in the weeks ahead. 

Angel investing is always a hot topic for investors (and those who want to be). First Susan Kimberlin told us everything we wanted to know about angel investing, but were too afraid to ask. Later we offered a legal checklist for angel investing, and Einat Meisel led us through the financial aspects

We shifted to pandemic learning

Then COVID-19 hit and our community immediately jumped in to help. Our Operator Collective core team shared their tried-and-true tips for working from home, while our LP base shared their favorite at-home activities, books, and podcasts to keep us all productive and sane. We learned to steady on from the amazing Dan Scheinman, while Iris Choi told us what companies should strive for in a down market. Jenny Sohn gave us her best 3 CFO tips to adapt your finances in a downturn, and Erica Schultz gave us 6 tips to keep building revenue and sales

Around that time we also launched The Challenge Series so our wildly experienced operator LPs could offer their support and advice to others in our community… but then we chose to cancel the final one in solidarity as the country struggled through multiple devastating racial and social injustices. (We’re grateful our amazing customer success leaders ended up answering our questions anyway – thank you, Christina Kosmowski and Nick Mehta.) 

We supported equality and social justice 

In light of those devastating social injustices, LP Merline Saintil offered 6 wise words to help you act against injustice. Then Lexi Reese and Bernard Coleman explained how voting helps us create the future we want to see. Behind the scenes, under Leyla Seka’s leadership, we created and launched Black Venture Institute, a curriculum-based program to bring more Black operators into venture capital, in partnership with BLCK VC and others. 

There were moments of good news, too. Three of our LPs published books within weeks of each other, and we celebrated the rise in women’s voices in publishing. Leyla Seka let us in on why it’s important to build a partner ecosystem and answered some of the questions she gets on the topic. The fabulous LaFawn Davis offered four tips to help you build an inclusive org

We love to lift up our operators

Through it all, we wanted to showcase some of our radically accomplished operator LPs, so we shined a light on HR leader Cindy Robbins, DEI leader Aubrey Blanche, executive recruiter Lynn Carter, partnerships leader Bonita Stewart, Chief Technical Officer Rathi Murthy, data and analytics queen Anita Lynch, engineering leader Yanbing Li, fashion mogul and activist Suzanne Lerner, founder and COO Michelle Zatlyn, executive producer Danielle Renfrew Behrens, and talent leader Michael Kieran

We also shared solid words of wisdom and operational advice from Leyla Seka, Ambrosia Vertesi, Tekedra Mawakana, Lexi Reese, Bonita Stewart, Erica Schultz, Li Fan, Dug Song, LaFawn Davis, Rathi Murthy, Monique Covington, Cindy Robbins, and Claire Hughes Johnson, plus a few words from me too. Whew! 

We shared our diligence

And along the way, of course, we made some investments! We are a venture fund, after all. Of all the investments we made this year, we were able to tell you more about our obsession with Guild Education, our uncomplicated love for DataGrail, and why our tie to Ironclad is simply binding. We showed you how to SetSail with a unique take on sales productivity, get smarter with Forethought AI, and check your productivity with Spekit. Need more? Find out how Textio helps your words matter, and learn how your sales team can Outreach, outlast, and outperform. Finally, we’re ready to introduce you to the Origin of financial wellness, as well as a new BFF for your CFO: Cube

How much will we learn next year? 

We learned a lot this year, but our number #1 lesson wasn’t from any of the great content above. We learned that our community is what keeps us going and grounded. We’re so thankful to have an amazing group of operator LPs who are not only radically accomplished, but also so happy to share their knowledge and support our #RiseTheTide mission.  

We barreled through our first year like a freight train. And as we look to 2021, our momentum is still going strong. We picked up and shared a huge amount of knowledge – but as always, this only gives us a baseline to beat next year. Onward!

We believe culture, diversity, and operational excellence are a key part of building truly great companies. Learn more on our website or by connecting with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.