Full text of Aleksander Tõnnisson’s talk: The dangers of foregoing emotional due diligence at TEDxRiga conference.
Aleksander Tõnnisson – Co-founder and CEO at Buildit Hardware Accelerator
How are you doing today?
Thank you. Isn’t this a great place to be? But for a moment, I would like you to leave this place.
Maybe for you it’s just a few hours, maybe for you a few days. And the people at the back, more relaxed ones, maybe it’s few weeks, because what I wanted to do is try to remember the last decision, which you wish you didn’t do.
Often we find ourselves saying in these situations later that I knew I had a bad feeling about it, but we still went ahead and did it.
Do you remember the feeling, the feeling you had just before you made a bad decision? Scratch your nose if you did. Some of you were picking nose.
But I really want you to hold on to this feeling because we’re going to need it later. See if we don’t trust our feelings, how can we really trust our decisions? Because of our feelings is our intuition. And just by listening to it, we make better decision. Doesn’t matter whether small or big.
So this is a dishwasher, in case you haven’t seen one. You know, it’s a really funny story. When I was living in America, people were asking me: do you have refrigerators in Estonia?
And I’m like: No. I think Latvia has few. But we just throw food out of the window to keep it cool.
This luckily, we do have dishwashers in Estonia. This one is not a random one. This is my dishwasher. It’s brand new. I spent hours and hours on YouTube looking for a perfect one. I made an Excel sheet comparing water consumption, electric consumption, noise level.
And I went to the stores to see what’s on the offer, and I bargained for the price before I bought it. So I made a lot of smaller and bigger decisions before buying it.
What you don’t see on this picture is my old dishwasher. I actually already had one. It looked exactly the same. It did exactly the same job.
So why did I buy a new one? Because my wife told me that our old one isn’t working. So we had this conversation one evening and she said, “Honey, have you noticed that our dishwasher isn’t working properly?” And I’m like, I’m not really sure. I’m not using it a lot.
So what happened was that I bought a new dishwasher because that seemed like an easy way out of that conversation.
So this is just a few weeks later. And I’m not an expert, but shouldn’t the dishes go inside the dishwasher?
While you’re laughing, my wife wasn’t laughing when I told her.
So anyway, what really happened was that my wife wasn’t saying that the dishwasher isn’t working. She was saying that I’m not working and she needs my help around the kitchen.
So all I had to do at that moment was to ask her how she feels. And she would have told me that actually she misses my help around the house.
So for me, this dishwasher was like an investment, but they made the bet on the wrong horse and they lost my money, which if I would have spent on flowers, I imagine would have given me a much bigger return on investment.
And if it’s really, really ironic, because if there’s one thing I do know a lot about is about investments.
So this is me. I’m not the guy with a funny face. This is some GDPR in action. And they gave this guy an American smile because he actually is an American guy. I spent most of my professional time looking for good investment opportunities. I’ve made 70 investments. I’ve invested in 18 countries. This is what I do.
What you see on the picture is somebody who is confident, I guess, something like today.
There’s a lot of things you probably didn’t notice about that picture. One is that I’m holding onto my arm. Maybe some of you noticed. The reason for that is that on that particular day, I was on stage like today, not in front of 600 people, but 100.
But I was extremely anxious, so I was feeling very, very high anxiety and not like a normal anxiety like I feel today but disabling anxiety. So holding onto my arm actually gave me a sense of security.
But you also don’t see in this picture is somebody whose self-image is dependent on other people’s opinion. I was actually so hungry for other people’s approval, but they spent all my time and then energy in the companies I invested.
And in reality, I really felt terrible doing it because there was no energy left for myself. But they completely disregarded that feeling because I was so detached from my own feelings.