The Adapter’s Advantage: Brian Shortsleeve on Having a Bias for Action
Welcome to The Adapter’s Advantage: Breakthrough Moments that Lead to Success.
In episode 46, growth-stage investor Brian Shortsleeve describes how he partners with bootstrapped companies to help founders and CEOs rapidly scale and win. Learn from Brian’s time in the U.S. Marines, the value of staying on offense, and what sets winning co-founders apart from the rest.
If you can combine organic growth with acquisitions, you can find yourself with businesses that are three, four, or five times larger over the course of three years than when they started. But that takes a tremendous amount of hunger, of desire, of 100-hour weeks, and a real passion for winning.
Brian Shortsleeve is co-founder and managing director of M33 Growth, a venture, and growth-stage investment management firm that seeks to rapidly scale and build industry-leading companies. He is passionate about helping founders and CEOs win in their markets.
Prior to founding M33, Brian served as the chief administrator and acting general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). He was handpicked by Governor Charlie Baker in 2015 to develop a plan to put the MBTA on the path to long-term fiscal sustainability.
Before the MBTA, Brian spent 14 years in strategy consulting and investing at Bain & Company, H.I.G. Capital, and most recently, General Catalyst, where he served as a managing director and led investments in software and technology-enabled services companies.
Listen as Brian discusses what it means to have a bias for action, why companies must remain flexible and willing to change, the power of empathy, and more.
Episode 46: Having a Bias for Action | Brian Shortsleeve
From This Episode
Host Mark Magnacca: “What is the most important skill that you’ve learned that serves you now in your current role?”
Brian Shortsleeve: “The most important skill is empathy and an ability to connect with [company] founders at their level and understand their problems. Because at the end of the day, we are in the business of helping them scale. We are trying to partner with founders who have never taken capital, and unless I can understand the problem they’re trying to solve and show them how we can help them, I won’t be successful.
“Another way to say that is sales ability. It’s the ultimate enterprise long-term sale. We have to convince a founder or a family that has been in business for 10 years and is running a wildly profitable growing business to take outside capital. That’s a hard sell.
“But the skill that has been most important in my career and certainly what we focus on with our sourcing team is the ability to connect with those people, the ability to sell them and [identify how] we can help. And that comes down to being a really good listener—to understand the problems they’re trying to solve, which often are not financial.”
About The Adapter’s Advantage
Our podcast features leaders from sales, training, and industry who share their personal journeys of transformation and how they are adapting to an ever-changing environment. As your host, I’ll introduce you to some of the most interesting and inspiring people I’ve met over the last twenty years.
The conversations dive into the ups and downs of their journey. Our guests focus on inflection points—the aha moments that, in retrospect, had a critical impact on their success. These interviews will leave you with practical, real-world advice that you can apply to your life.