5 1/2 Questions for Brad Feld

CJ Cornell
5 min readAug 2, 2022

Brad Feld

Venture Capitalist, Startup Advocate, Author

Brad Feld is a partner and co-founder of Foundry. He has been an early-stage investor and entrepreneur for over 35 years, since founding his first company, Feld Technologies, in college. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars and, with his wife Amy Batchelor, runs the Anchor Point Foundation. Brad has written several books on entrepreneurship and venture capital and started blogging in 2004 before VC Twitter existed. Brad holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brad is also an art collector and long-distance runner who enjoys wandering around alone in the mountains for hours at a time.

Brad has been an early-stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of Techstars.

Brad is a writer and speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship. He’s written a number of books as part of the Startup Revolution series and writes the blog Feld Thoughts.

Brad holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brad is also an art collector and long-distance runner.

5 1/2 Questions for Brad Feld

1 — What book was a game changer for your career or life? Why?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read it in college and then all the employees of my first company read it and had several discussions about it. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a close second. And my two move influential sci-fi books are Neuromancer and Snow Crash. In all cases, they made me think hard about a particular topic (or set of topics) at a moment when that topic was incredibly relevant to me. I’ve reread all four of them several times over the years and new things reveal themselves each time. I’m an extensive reader (see my Goodreads page) and I could list 100 more books that had real impact on me. The key isn’t one particular book, but a lifetime of exploring ideas.

2 — What was the biggest career mistake you ever saw someone make?

Prioritizing money over everything else. While money is a key part of the measurement system of success and often woven into most people’s thoughts about their career, when money dominates, you can end up spending a huge part of your time on this planet doing things you don’t give a shit about or actively dislike. In addition, if your primary focus is money, you’ll likely be blinded to many other “value-based” opportunities in whatever you do.

3 — Tell us about the last time you built something with your hands?

My hands are mostly connected to my keyboard so the examples are “books” and “code” but I know that’s not what you mean. I’m generally inept with my hands — my wife likes that say that I have continuous challenges with the physical world. I’m a long distance runner so my feet are actually much more capable than my hands.

4 — Everyone procrastinates in some way? Tell us about your procrastination Kryptonite?

I’m a master at figuring out how to delay getting out the door for a run. When I’m not procrastinating it takes five minutes. When I am, it can take as long as an hour. I have to go to the bathroom again. I have to eat something else. Oh — I thought of something I need to do on the computer. Shit, where did I put my hat again (I have hundreds of hats …)

5 — What talent impresses you? Why?

Individual physical accomplishment. For example, Rafael Nadal is just extraordinary. So is Serena Williams. When I was young, Joan Benoit and Bill Rodgers were mindblowing to me. Fearlessness, like from Nadal and Steve Prefontaine. I’m less interested in team talent, since the team is so important even though everyone likes to talk about the individual. So basketball, football, and baseball stars are incredible, but it’s a different thing.

and … the BONUS “Color” Question

5+1/2 — Star Wars? Star Trek? TNG or Dr. Who: Which one are you, and why?

Star Wars. In the Wars vs. Trek, I often say “What’s Trek mean?” As I wander deeper and deeper into the woods, I like to think I’m more Yoda than anything else, although Old Ben Kenobi and the late in life version of Luke is pretty appealing.

For more 5–1/2 Questions Interviews, see:

“5–1/2 Questions” from CJ Cornell is a new series of mini-interviews with leaders in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem around the world. In less than a half-dozen short questions, we’ll try to learn more about each leader, and what makes them successful and unique.

The questions are designed a little like a “Magic Eight Ball” (my GenX colleagues know what this is): A set of questions, posed at random. Plus, at least one question, or half-question, is designed to find out something about their personality that most people might never suspect (I mean expect).

CJ Cornell is a serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, mentor, author, speaker, and educator. As an entrepreneur, CJ Cornell was a founder of more than a dozen successful startup ventures that collectively attracted over $250 million in private funding; created nearly a thousand new jobs; and launched dozens of innovative consumer, media, and communications products — that have exceeded $3 billion in revenues.

He is the author of the bestsellingThe Age of Metapreneurship — A Journey into the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

And the upcoming “The Startup Brain Trust — A Guidebook for Startups, Entrepreneurs, and the Mentors that Help them Become Great.”

Follow him @cjcornell or visit: www.cjcornell.com

CJ Cornell

Professor of #Entrepreneurship & Digital Media. Serial/Parallel Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Mentor, Angel Investor, #VC. Crowdfunding & #Startups Evangelist