Tom Cole

CEO at Beau-coup

Tom Cole is currently the CEO of Beau-coup - an innovative and leading company in the online favors and gifts industry. Prior to this role, Cole was a General Partner at Trinity Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm where he spent a decade investing in leading-edge technology and new media companies. Prior to Trinity, he held numerous software design and development roles at both startups and larger companies including Approach Software and Oracle Corporation. Cole also served as a technology consultant to financial institutions including Wells Fargo Bank. Along with running Beau-coup, Cole currently is actively involved as an angel investor, advisor and board director at several online marketing and retail startups. He serves on the board of the Glow Foundation, a non-profit working to help Bay Area high school students in need get to college by providing financial literacy training and funding.

Tom Cole
Starting now, constantly build relationships with smart, capable, good people.
LETTER TO MYSELF AT 20

Congratulations on commencing on a wonderful and exciting journey!

You have a beautifully empty canvas upon which to paint the strokes of your career. Think carefully about each step, because it will have important implications for where you go next. Find at least one great mentor; be honest with that person and listen to what s/he has to say. Bounce all your big decisions off of that person. Merely asking a question aloud may help you realize the right answer.

Beyond your mentor, build your network constantly. Not in a transactional, superficial way, but rather by finding genuine points of connection as the basis for sticky, meaningful relationships. Learn to spot talent and seek to associate with the best and brightest you come across. Even if you do not build relationships with all of them, you can learn a tremendous amount by watching and understanding what they are doing.

Look for the big waves and try to catch at least one of them. There will be a series of exciting, disruptive technologies emerging over the course of your career, and each one will present a world of opportunity. Don't be afraid to wade into the unknown, because that's where the greatest opportunity lies. It also presents the greatest chance of failure, but don't fear that.

Work on something you love, something that excites you. If you're working really hard but it mostly feels like fun, then you're doing the right thing.

Move fast. Do a good enough job, but don't be such a perfectionist. Be well rounded. Make sure you become an interesting person who has interesting experiences and perspectives to share with others. Above all, have fun. Your twenties will the best decade. You have your health, freedom, and opportunity. Savor every moment!