I first heard the word “grinfucker” a decade or so ago from a close friend who was a former investment banker. He said, in response to a meeting we were in with a person who was very polite and charming “he’s such a grinfucker.” I loved the word and, as I found out later, it described the person perfectly.
I had an encounter with someone on Friday that made me think to myself “that person is a grinfucker” and I vaguely remembered a post on the web from someone about grinfuckers. A quick Google search generated a post from Mark Suster titled Don’t be a Grin Fucker. It’s excellent – go read it – this blog post will wait patiently for you to come back.
I was at dinner mid-week with another friend talking about a bunch of stuff. During that dinner we started talking about SOPA/PIPA. He has another friend who is one of the SOPA/PIPA advocates. He told me what the person said about it, which was basically “the tech industry misunderstands what we are trying to do – it’s only about foreign websites – there is nothing bad in the bills.” I responded to my friend that this person was lying. We talked about that for a while. As I reflect on the conversation, it wasn’t simply that the pro-SOPA/PIPA person was lying, he was actually grinfucking our mutual friend. Which, ironically given the specific context, might even be worse than lying.
I try to live my life where I always say 100% what is on my mind. I rarely hold back and, although I try to be polite about it, I’m sure I piss plenty of people off. But I’d rather annoy and piss them off than grinfuck them. And I’d much rather someone be brutally honest with me about whatever they think, especially if they disagree with me or think I’m doing something stupid, since that information is so much more valuable to me than a disingenuous good vibe.
I’ve started doing something new at the end of most of my public talks. I have always ended by giving out my email address and encouraging people to reach out directly if there is anything they want to discuss. But I’ve added on the following:
If I said anything you disagree with, think was confusing, stupid, or just plain wrong, please tell me. I won’t take offense – don’t sugar coat it – just tell me. That’s the best way for me to learn and get smarter.
I suppose I could add “please don’t grinfuck me by saying how wonderful the talk was as you think in the back of your mind ‘wow – Feld is a real moron – he totally missed the point on the blah thing.'”
I encourage everyone to chew on this. Honest, direct, and clear debate is so much more powerful than bullshit. We are living in a very complex era and the information we are trying to process is extremely confusing and contradictory. If you like or respect someone, don’t grinfuck them. And if you don’t like or respect them, don’t grinfuck them – tell them why.