I was on a panel at FounderCon last week with Noah Pittard from Cooley and Service Provider Capital. Something Noah said on that panel was so insightful that it really stuck with me. Someone asked about the types of founders we want to invest in and the types of people we want to surround ourselves with, and the conversation meandered until we were talking about the concept of integrity.
People do stupid things all the time. They make bad decisions. It’s just a part of life. But a bad decision is not an indicator of integrity. How you handle yourself after you make a bad decision is a much better measure of integrity.
The part that really stuck with me was when Noah talked about the moment that inevitably occurs where you first have to answer the question “what happened?”. Those with high integrity quickly take responsibility, disclose uncomfortable details, and admit their mistakes. Those with low integrity defend, cover up, and tell only part of the story.
We can tell if someone has integrity when we ask: “what happened?”. It’s what you do when that mistake is in the light of day that defines who you are. Noah’s salient point was that you have one chance and one moment to show integrity when you are first asked that question. If you slowly reveal details only as you need to in order to minimize the damage to you personally, then you are showing no integrity. This first moment you are asked about what happened is the moment of integrity.