Five Questions For … Mercury Fund Co-Founder Blair Garrou

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way to learn to succeed and thrive. … I’m always trying to improve. I don’t think I exemplify those qualities all the time. I’m a perfectionist and perfectionists have a tendency to micromanage. So I’m constantly needing to remind myself not to do that.

That’s something entrepreneurs face within startups. Being able to release certain things and letting people do them is challenging. The ones who are best are the ones who can rally the troops and empower them to go out and do their best work.

X: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

BG: When I was young I wanted to be lawyer. There were a lot of legal shows on TV. I loved watching lawyer-oriented movies. What was interesting was most of those movies revolved around trying cases, rather than putting deals together. I interned at a law firm in high school. I did it for six weeks and figured out it wasn’t for me. It was a little esoteric for me. What I liked about watching legal TV shows like “L.A. Law,” was being able to convince and lead others around an idea and opportunity. The more I grew up and the more I interacted with friends whose parents ran businesses—that to me was very interesting.

Later on in life the aspects of doing deals and bringing people together in a common cause, constructing a deal, and building a deal out was more interesting to me.

X: How do you define success?

BG: It’s an interesting question. Probably 10 years ago I got to the point in my career where I could have had a much better work-life balance. Dan and I had launched Mercury. We had staying power and started to hire other employees.

But as the community has grown, I’ve been pulled in a number of directions to help. I find the most enjoyment helping the community in ways that helps my business. If we have a stronger tech community in Houston, Mercury will be stronger.

But we’ve learned so much with Mercury about the other ways, by interacting with other communities, that we can bring those best practices to Houston.

Success is how to do well by doing good. Many people think about that [in] different ways. At Mercury, the expectation is we need to give back. That’s by finding ways we can help the tech community and expand and diversify Houston’s economy for the next wave of entrepreneurs.

X: What’s the most embarrassing thing about yourself that you’re willing to admit publicly?

BG: I was a terrible public speaker when I was younger. I was just terrible. My hands would clam up. I would stress about it for days. I would avoid it. It wasn’t until I worked for Paul Frison [HTC’s president from 1999-2007] that he agreed that I was a bad public speaker and he sent me to media training school. Within a two-day period, they set me on the road to be a more effective communicator and [taught me] how to motivate others. That’s become one of my skills over time.

People are really surprised by this. Growing up, I was much more introverted and much more worried about what people think. It really held me back from presenting publicly.

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Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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