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.
Most entrepreneurs experience intense periods of loneliness. “At last! I found a group that understands what I am going through.” That was an emotional exclamation from a founder of a startup who had just finished attending his first entrepreneurial event. Yes, it is also lonely at the top for startups.
There are several reasons for this sense of loneliness being pronounced in a startup.
· You are exposed. The small number of employees and the flat organization structure give no place to hide. Everyone is watching you every day, examining the look on your face for signs of changes in the new enterprise. You will feel like you are walking through the street in your bathing suit with everyone staring at you.
· You are The Motivator. Everyone expects you to be confident that you know where the company should be going and how to get it there. They respond to your every emotional direction. Signals from the vice presidents are not as powerful as from the CEO. In fact, only the CEO counts as The Motivator of the company personnel. You will feel that pressure day and night, 24x7.
· You have investors watching closely. The money people want you to succeed but they are not where you go when you are scared or confused. Your tendency is to cover up your true feelings when talking with them.
· Your family asks a lot of questions. From spouse to children to parents to relatives, they all are amazed at what you are doing. They see the risks very high. They want to know what is going to happen to your startup and what that will do to them. You will feel like telling then only the good news, until it is too late to mask the bad news.
· The media is watching. Bloggers are eager for a juicy story. Reporters dig first for “poignant” stories (that is code for bad news about your company). You will try to present only the best of the best about your startup. That is a distortion of reality that your psychology will wrestle with.
Experienced entrepreneurs manage loneliness by finding people to talk to whom they can trust for secrecy and who will understand the emotional roller coaster the entrepreneur goes through week after week. The spiritual part of the human is challenged to find a contact to talk to and that ranges from God to Jesus to Buddha to your inner self. Friends become more appreciated at times of loneliness.
Startups are not places for solo heroes. They crash and burn. It is a place for people people. That breed that appreciates what humans go through in emotions, loneliness being one of the most powerful.