Chapter 3 continued
(Draft of John's new book: your comments are welcome)
Risk triggers emotions that fuel people determined to build and ride their startup bicycle.
Startup people respond in special ways to emotions. Giant corporate managers differently to the same emotions. Understanding the differences is central to life or death of a startup leader.
“An emotion is a mental and physiological state associated with a wide variety of feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Emotions are subjective experiences, or experienced from an individual point of view. Emotion is often associated with mood, temperament, personality, and disposition. The English word 'emotion' is derived from the French word émouvoir. This is based on the Latin emovere, where e- (variant of ex-) means 'out' and movere means 'move'. The related term "motivation" is also derived from movere.+ Source: Wikipedia
Startups are adventures filled with unknowns, risks, treasure and fun. The unknowns are not revealed until the startup is begun and its plan is executed. The risks are so high that nearly all startups go bankrupt sooner or later. The treasure is buried, hard to find, more psychological than physical, and when you find it you feel very rich. And the adventure is fun along the way – the opposite of work.
A startup adventure begins with people filled with enthusiasm and high energy. Their dreams take the first shape of reality as the new venture begins initial work. Not long after that, realism arrives and the optimism begins to decline and the first pangs of intimidation and a bit of fear start to creep in. That reverses direction as creativity and innovation trigger euphoria and joy. Then doubts arrive and more negative emotions must be dealt with. And so goes the emotional rollercoaster. Soon a cascade of emotions rushes into the startup’s people, from core team to the employees. How they manage those emotions will determine how well the startup succeeds in managing itself. That will be a primary determinate of the success or failure of the fledgling enterprise.
The first emotion experienced by first time startup people is a sense of being “free at last!” You will hear them say “Now I can do things my way”, “This time I will be CEO and it won’t be all messed up” and “I can hardly wait to start coding/building it”.
These are people free from the constraints of school, office politics, rigid promotion policies and immovable social conventions. They are especially noticeable people in Asia. They have an inner sense of needing to break out, to express their opinions openly, and do something they have been prevented from doing for years, maybe decades.
From the roots branches of freedom come unusual benefits to the startup. One is the freedom to aggressively disagree with other employees about important issues. Engineers and Asians respond well to startup working conditions because of such freedom. This open forum culture encourages displays of high energy and behavior that to some people can be very intimidating. Others find such behavior ideal to attack issues central to the startup’s success. Serial entrepreneurs believe it is what adds a powerful element to the unfair advantage that the tiny startup has over the rich multi-national giant.
Another is the freedom to create and invent something useful. This is central to the waves of green startups and social entrepreneurship. New enterprises have been begun because the founders were passionate about solving a giant problem. Jeff Hawkin’s lifetime quest to understand the brain is a good example. Google him and you’ll see what I am talking about. Yet event the freedom to at last be in charge of a team to build something useful can trigger immense emotions of euphoria and joy.