startups

Some startup zealots posted a quote a few months ago:

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames”
― Rumi

This quote really bothered me. For some reason, in the doldrums of startup building, I saw it as a warning. Set your life on fire. That’s an insane proposition. And then you’ll know your enemies by how they fan your flames.

But then I realized something: this quote meant something entirely different. It meant that you had to find the right people to help you grow, to help you expand, to help you gain the most out of your adventure. They fan your flames. They help you burn brighter.

I gave a talk at Impact CEE about this quote and I’d like to share it with you. I’m not usually emotional on stage but this was one of the few times that I shared personal truths with a room full of people. Anyway, enjoy.

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I’ve written about startups for a decade. I’ve interviewed founders, spoke at conferences, and flapped my gums about best ways forward and how silly/cool a product was. What I didn’t know, and what I know now, is that I wasn’t giving startup founders their due.

In short, I didn’t see two things: the fire in their bellies when it came to their idea and the fire in their bodies that was slowly burning them down. Just as the drive forward immolates you from the inside the same drive immolates our physical body. Dreaming up a business is often as easy as sitting down at a table and starting to think. Bringing a startup to life is akin to entering some sort of maniacal roller-coaster of your own devising. Finding an equilibrium is the hardest thing an entrepreneur can do and finding true calm comes only with practice.

I’m getting there, but it’s hard.

Continue reading Guts

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