When I was fighting for my life, battling with, one of our investors, the notorious “Donald Ventures”, to keep our company alive, I thought about my wife and daughter a lot. They had supported me emotionally, and I didn’t want to let them down.
The stress I was under, during that one year time period, was unbelievable. It would have been really easy to just give up and quit.
However, it wasn’t just about me, it was about them too. I couldn’t let them down. Nor could I let down my employees because they were counting on me too.
As much as Blossom, Avery, and my employees were a driving force in motivating me to push through and win, they weren’t the only only driving force. You see…
I was on a mission from God.
Now, I’m not a very religious person. And that’s not what I’m talking about.
It’s more like, well, do remember the famous scenes in the movie, The Blues Brothers, where Elwood Blues say, “We’re on a mission from god.”
My motivation is more like the Blues Brothers motivation. They felt like they had to do what they were doing.
That’s how I felt. I was on a mission from god. And nothing was going to get in my way.
Despite the odds of success, I never once thought we were going to fail:
- Not when 63 investors passed on investing in us when we were raising our initial funding did I think we would fail
- Not when my two co-founders quit at the worst moment, and stole the company’s IP, did I think we would fail
- Not when one of our two investors, “Donald Ventures,” pulled their funding and blocked every term sheet we received, did I think we would fail
You get the point. But I was on a mission from god. And nothing was going to get in my way.
You need a healthy amount of selfishness to be a startup CEO.
Back to my opening statement about Blossom and Avery, and their importance to my story. I love my family, and yes, they were a motivating force. And, yes, wouldn’t it be so nice, clean, and tidy, to say that they were THE motivating force?
But, I just wouldn’t be truthful if I said that. Sorry.
I don’t think your family’s well-being is enough for you to start a company. After all, you can make a lot of money without starting a company.
The 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, whether you are awake or sleeping, whether you are on vacation or not obsession of starting a company requires you to put yourself first.
I’m not saying that you don’t need a supportive family. And, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be present in your family. You need a supportive family, and you need to support them too.
It’s just that:
- While you’re watching your daughter perform at the school play, you’re going to be obsessing about your company
- When you’re watching a movie with your spouse, you’re going to be obsessing about your company
- When you’re at dinner with your family, you’re going to be obsessing about your company
The obsession with your company never stops. It becomes, the most important thing in your life. Period.
In other words, the best motivation needs to come from within.
If you’re thinking, this sounds like fanaticism, then you’d be correct. This internal motivation and drive that many founding CEOs have becomes their everything.
And, if you’re thinking that being a startup CEO is really, really intense, then, again, you’d be correct. Building a startup is like playing in the World Series, or the World Cup, or the Super Bowl, or for the Stanley Cup all rolled into one.