3 Ways to Tell if Someone Is About to Waste Your Time
‘My neighbor is an editor at Food & Wine. You should show him your cupcake recipes!’
I checked my hair for flyaways for the 11th time and walked into the meeting. The opportunity seemed perfect — I was in the seed fundraising stage with my startup, and this investor was active in our space and showed excitement about our mission. Locking in a lead investor wouldn’t just secure us funding; it would also legitimize our business to other venture capital funds looking to invest.
I stood at the front of the room and gave my pitch, and before we parted ways that day, the fund principal said they’d email me shortly about “next steps.”
I could barely contain my excitement.
The first email arrived right on schedule — a simple request for sales and web traffic data — and I quickly complied. Then one email became another, and another, the complexity escalating with each request, until eventually I was building them a full-scale financial model. Aware of what was at stake, I happily jumped through each new hoop. Any day now, we’d be doing the deal, I told myself.
Unfortunately, that message never came. After two months filled with a steady stream of new requests, the emails abruptly ended. So did the replies. They ghosted me.
I was back to the drawing board, bewildered, exhausted, and most of all, disappointed.
Life is full of interactions that don’t go anywhere. Plenty of people act without intention, make offers they don’t aim to fulfill, and present opportunities they don’t plan to see through. They do things simply out of curiosity, validation-seeking, or plain negligence.
While these people are definitely full of it, they’re not necessarily liars. And that’s what makes them so difficult to spot: Our standard BS detectors often fail us in the absence of evasiveness, manipulation, or a murky agenda. We get caught up with what’s on the table.
How do you know if you just can’t take someone seriously? How can you tell if someone who’s otherwise competent, reputable, and trustworthy is likely to waste your time?