A Labor of Love
Lessons from a recent set of interactions around being a founder: Recently someone was telling me this is amazing and then starting to talk about what they want to do and how they want to found a company, and then... nearly in the same breath doubting themselves and talking about how a 9-5 work day just doesn't fit his/her current state of mind. Sounds so “amazing” being a founder, wow.
Lately I have encountered too many people who believe that the path is the goal.
You are severely disillusioned if you think that’s what building a company is.
Let me tell you what being a founder is. My best days start at 4-4:30 a.m. and end around 10.
I've sacrificed time off, vacations, literally everything except precious moments running alone with my dog has become work, and even then I will take calls.
There is of course room for personal growth, but that’s nearly all there is room for. There is giving up of so much. You do not build something epic without significant sacrifice.
People have tried and tried to find a way around this. People preach all sorts of practices and ideologies.
I was curious and have found out that most of these people have never started anything serious themselves.
I had a successful and well-published academic career before starting this company. I was a fully funded to become a professor in my own right in the hard sciences.
This also required great personal sacrifice and mission/vision, late nights, early mornings. Just in the hard sciences.
I wanted to learn something new.
Founding a company, and taking one of my ideas into the wild was that new learning experience... and this idea called to me as so significant with such potential, nothing would stop me.
You do not become a founder for the sake of being a founder.
You do not build something epic without significant sacrifice.
You do not build something epic without a fire that burns so fiercely for what could be that nothing, no “No,” late night, or the behavior of someone else can stop you.
That is what being a founder is.
Of course there is meditation (it’s been a practice of mine for over two decades, just like yoga. I have a PhD in Physiology/Biophysics -- in case someone feels like preaching or attempting to man or woman-splain me re: health etc.)
You will not change an industry, a way of life, the face of the planet for the sake of humanity with a single selfish bone left in your body.
This is a fact. The path is not the goal. It is simply part of the path.
What being a founder is, is so much more than the vast majority of people I've met who like to talk about it, are ever willing to give of themselves. People who have bumped elbows with founders have so many opinions from their lives of comfort, their lack of sacrifice, and higher vision.
Unless they've been down in the trenches with you, their words are mostly meaningless.
Much respect to my fellow founders.
It's a wild, wonderful ride.