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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Random Answers

Comments (3)

If you found my golden retriever eyes post to be helpful for your relationship, I’ve got another tip for you.  I call it “Random Answers.”

I’m in Santa Fe with Amy and my friends Raj and Stefanie Bhargava.  We’re about to head to Albuquerque for tomorrow’s marathon (I’ve got my cheerleading team in tow this weekend.)  We spent a bunch of time yesterday wandering up and down Canyon Road looking at art before having a superb dinner at Geronimo.

As we were going in and out of galleries, Stef and Amy kept asking us our opinion of various things.  While both of us had opinions on art, we’d occasionally end up in a store (say – a linen store) that we couldn’t care less about.  We were polite and gave our wives golden retriever eyes.  However, I noticed Raj struggling to form an opinion on certain items.

I decided to share my “random answers” secret with him.  Whenever Amy asks me an opinion on something I don’t care about, rather than either say “I don’t care” or – even worse – dig deep to form an opinion – I simply give her a random answer.  Now – I don’t do this in an offhanded way – it’s not a “yes – I like it” or “no – I don’t like it.”  Rather – I stare thoughtfully at the item in question, flash the now famous golden retriever eyes at her, and then give her a deep, insightful response with plenty of adjectives and adverbs in it.

This used to work all the time for me.  Amy thought she was married to a guy who actually cared about things like dresses, linens, bras, chandeliers, plates, silverware, postcards, stationary, shoes, cars, paint colors, kitchen tables, scarves – you get the picture.  Unfortunately, Raj pointed out this this is also known as lying, which put me in the doghouse with Amy for a few minutes.  Fortunately, I managed to convince her that I was really excited about the red cowboy boots that she bought earlier in the day.

  • http://silverfernrealty.com Osman

    Ok, screw the biz strategy. THIS is the kind of advice I can use.

    Why didn’t I think of this before?

    Thanks Brad!

  • darth87

    Brad,

    In the interest of preserving healthy marriages, I provide the following rationalization: Raj was wrong, you did not lie.

    At the USAFA, lying was defined as “providing or withholding information with the intent to deceive.”

    Perhaps “random answers” deceives Amy regarding your opinions, however, “random answers” serve a higher purpose: affirming your relationship in the wake of diverging interest levels.

    Best regards,
    darth87

  • Dave Jilk

    There are really two separate issues here: whether you care, and whether you have an opinion. Thus an easier approach that is not disingenuous is what I’d call “virtual caring.” Imagine a Clockwork Orange-like scenario where you’re forced to look at that chandelier or paint color until you lose consciousness with your eyes open. I promise you, you will have an opinion. Then you can proceed with expressing that opinion using Golden Retriever eyes.

    A further benefit is that this allows you to be empathetic with your S.O., who undoubtedly cares as strongly as you would if you were forced to look at it 24 hours a day.

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