Lighthearted laughter and jovial optimism are marks of entrepreneurs. That is good. It fuels what it takes to get through the inevitable dark days of doing a real startup.
I advise the CEOs I coach to be prepared for life's dark days, both at work and in their personal lives.
This was reinforced to me in a shocker when I contacted a serial entrepreneur I respect in southern california and got this automated email reply:
"Due to the
sudden and tragic loss of my beautiful daughter Grayson, I will be taking time
off from work and will not be responding to emails. This will be for at
least a few weeks. In honor of my daughter please have compassion for all
of those around you and make sure to take a few extra minutes each day to hug
your loved ones. I will not be checking this email during this time
For more information you can visit her memorial page on facebook
Life happens to startup people, regardless of ability and stature.
The loss of a child is ranked by psychiatrists as second in emotional pain only to loss of a spouse. I have seven friends who have lost children and they tell me it is a hole that remains forever in their hearts.
So what is a founder CEO to learn from such dark news? I think it is simple: be prepared for the darkest of times when you do your startup; Doing a startup is not a way to escape from life (lost a job, lost a girl/boy friend, got divorced, etc.).
BOTTOM LINE: Even the best of the best of serial entrepreneurs must face what life confronts them with. If you are not able to do that, then pleased do not add the stress of doing a startup. Because when the inevitable dark days come, you'll be crushed, and so will your startup. People able to get through such terrible events in life are the rare people investors and serial startup employees are looking for. It's part of their unfair advantage. It is what people want to hear from you when they interview you. Are you prepared to tell them about such times in your life?
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!
NEXT WEEK I'll be doing finals at Cornell University. I'm excited about that. I'll share with you some of the ideas from the students.