This is a topic that has come up in a number of our portfolio companies of late. And, as the parent of a child who identifies as trans and non-binary, I’m also probably more attuned than most to the inequities as well as personally passionate about creating change.

So, in honor of Trans Awareness Week, and with that in mind, I asked my child Sabel (now an adult in the workforce) to share what they consider to be some best practices and resources for building better workplaces for trans and non-binary people.

Note: I wrote this five years ago. I’m reposting it today in honor of Trans Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance.

I have been thinking for weeks about the suicide of teenager Leelah Alcorn, and her wish that her death mean something.

I’m sharing my story about what it has been like to be the parent of a trans kid in the hopes that if you are a parent struggling to come to terms with a Leelah or Sabel of your own, this might help — and Leelah’s wish for her death to have meaning would take a few more steps forward.

Note: My child Sabel uses the gender-neutral singular “they” pronoun. Also, Sabel put in a few editorial comments when…

This CEO is a master at interacting with her board. Here’s how she does it.

My phone started ringing. It was a Saturday night in May around 10pm and I was hanging out with my daughter, watching a movie. She hit pause and said, “Let me guess, it’s Aicha.”

It was.

Admittedly, it was a safe guess, given most of my calls in May were from Aicha.

I just had an exchange this morning that was sadly similar to too many exchanges I’ve had in the past.

Here’s how they tend to go.

The CEO and board members of a company are searching to fill an open seat. They reach out to me as a known connector and experienced board member, to see if I can add to their pipeline of candidates. Because I am a strong advocate of board diversity, I’m encouraged to hear they also want to prioritize diversity for this spot.

All good so far.

And then they say the thing that drives me…

Hello Readers!

I’m ending the year with a grab-bag of VC-related questions and answers. Keep those questions coming to, and happy holidays! — Heidi

Q: I’ve heard that when raising from a VC you should never take a meeting with anyone but a partner, because they are the only ones who can approve an investment. Is that true?

While it is true that ultimately the partners will determine whether an investment is made, it is silly in my opinion to not take the meeting! At most VC shops, there are non-partner members of the team (often with titles like…

Dear Heidi,

I have a killer app that I think is going to be HU-U-U-UGE. I’ve been working on it every night and weekend for the last six months, and I think I’m ready to take the plunge, raise some money and quit my job to work on this full time. Here’s my problem, every time I open up PowerPoint to start my pitch deck, I find myself endlessly scrolling through templates with a blank mind and a sense of dread. Truth is, I have no idea where to start. …

Dear Heidi,

Monday’s the day we present to our top choice venture firm. The deck is ready and we’ve honed our delivery to perfection. I think we’ve thought of everything, but, given you’ve probably seen it all over the last 20 years of hearing pitches, can you give us any advice about things we should be careful not to do?

— Almost Showtime, Mountain View, CA

Hello Almost Showtime!

Thank you so much for asking this, because I’ve been dying to write about this for quite some time. Here are a few of my choicest no-nos.

Don’t put things on…

Dear Heidi,

I have been out fundraising for a few months now, and my patience is wearing thin. I have a very well-thought-out plan, a compelling deck, and lots of analysis about my model and the market that I email the VCs in advance. Yet, when I get to the meetings, I’m mystified by the process. I know 20 times more than the people in the room about my space, yet they often ask pretty basic questions that I feel I’ve already addressed in the deck. The process seems to involve a ton of meetings and lots of requests for…

One job offer has 10x the options of the other, why are they so different?

Welcome to Help Me Heidi!

Hello! My name is Heidi Roizen. I am a venture capitalist, corporate director, and recovering entrepreneur. I also teach entrepreneurship at Stanford.

People ask me a lot of questions on topics associated with startups, entrepreneurship, and venture capital. I’m starting this column because I thought it would be helpful to broadly share my responses. Every other week I’ll answer questions that have actually been asked of me, though I sometimes change them to mask the identity of the person, to make them more generic, or, frankly, just to make them more fun to read.


Heidi Roizen answers your questions

A photo of two businesspeople’s silhouettes as they shake hands.
Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Dear Heidi:

I’m so raging mad right now my fingers can barely work the keyboard. Four years ago, I landed a VP of engineering job at a red-hot startup, for which I was granted options for 2% of the company. I’ve been toiling away all these years through the ups and downs, setbacks and growth, and multiple rounds of capital. The new capital that came in subsequent to my joining reduced my percentage ownership, but I still had 1% of all outstanding shares even after that. While it hasn’t ended up becoming the unicorn I was hoping for, we recently…

Heidi Roizen

Partner at Threshold Ventures, Stanford Educator, Board Member, Mom, dog lover.

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