Proust Goes Tech With Jody Rose, President Of The New England Venture Capital Association

As every year barrels to a close, Jody Rose sneaks off to a small retreat with her closest friends. Last year, it was at the Ritz Carlton in Boston. Years prior the trip took place in Martha’s Vineyard.

Beyond massages and a nice dinner or two, the group focuses on accomplishing one activity during the getaway: establish a goal for the year.

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This year, Rose made her goal to “be bold.” She says this focus makes her a better mother, daughter, and leader. Day in day out, Rose is busy working as the president of the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA). She has been with the team for 12 years.

In this Proust Goes Tech, Rose riffs about imposter syndrome, unicorns, and why she admires Trevor Noah.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What would you otherwise be doing right now?

If I could dream big, high in the sky, I would be a singer and entertainer. I’d be something on the creative side. I have a musical home and background in my family.

Your main fault?

“Main” is a good disclaimer, because I have many. I’m my hardest critic to a fault, which sometimes inhibits me or prevents me from taking a bold, daring step. I struggle with confidence and questioning myself.

For example, one of the programs we launched at NEVCA, now going into its fourth year, focused on the challenge of diversity particularly within latinos and tech.

I’m not an expert at diversity and inclusion, so I felt really nervous and almost didn’t launch the program. I got imposter syndrome, and I had just gotten the role at NEVCA.

But I believe that diversity in tech is not just a Silicon Valley issue, it’s a Boston issue. NEVCA should be at the helm.

With the help of my co-founder Jeff Bussgang, I decided to take the leap. It was a seven-month ideation and conversation process before we decided to pursue it.

Your idea of misery?

Regretting not taking a leap. Misery is looking back and wishing I would have done something and didn’t because of fear. Basically letting fear drive my decisions.

What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Trust, accountability, and transparency. I have a big friend community, but I have a couple friends that know what’s happening and that hold me accountable. They are honest with me, and for me, that is the most important thing in a relationship. I didn’t realize how important it was to me until the last 8 years of my life.

Your chief characteristic?

I am a motivator. I am trustworthy. And I am someone, who if I believe passionately about a vision or an idea, gets the train moving. I’m visionary.

What skill do you wish you possessed?

I wish I was more organized; I wish I had a strong operational foundation.

I rely on my notebook and my calendar, but I haven’t found any task masters or any kind of products to stay organized. So let me know if you do.

Your most impactful book?

I would say The Bible. My faith is really important to me. It’s my script and drives everything I do. I would also say a book that I have been completely blown away by and inspired by is “Born A Crime” by Trevor Noah. If you’re going to read it, do it through his audiobook.

What defines success?

It’s my family being cared for. Are they happy? Are they at peace? And have I contributed to that and the broader community?

When is confidence lost?

If I’m being really honest, it’s lost if I feel like I’ve let my team down.

Which buzzword is exhausted?

Unicorn. I think sometimes it places so much value on having companies or investing in companies that are going to be the next unicorn, versus investing in companies or building companies that are impacting the industry in which it is in. What about companies that bring in a ton of returns for investors and are making an impact? I wish we would focus less on unicorn creation and more on that.

What virtues do others have that you don’t?

I would say consistently working out everyday. I would also say balance. I find work-life balance to be an elusive concept. At any given point, I’m failing as a mom, as a wife, or as a leader. It is impossible to have so many balls you’re juggling and keep them all in the air, and I think we need to accept that.

What impact do you want to leave behind?

I want to know that I made an impact in people’s lives. Whether it was pointing them to opportunities that they weren’t thinking about or providing entrepreneurs with opportunities that were hard for them to achieve. Also, I want to make a difference in the investor community.

What’s the biggest problem tech is failing to solve?

A macro issue it is still failing to solve goes back to equity and inclusion, and making sure we are creating spaces and technologies where women and people of color are seen as “in the know.” Again, it’s not just about unicorns.

To me, equality is the day that Vertex appoints a female CEO, and the headline of the Boston Globe of the New York Times isn’t that they appointed a female CEO, but that they’ve appointed a new CEO and here’s her background. I’m looking forward to that day.

Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias

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