When I was raising my first round, it fell apart because an A-list investor who had given us a verbal commitment backed out. He did this because he had heard from his friend, who I had went out for beers with, said that we were struggling and unsure of what we were doing. I don’t blame the investor for backing out and I don’t blame his friend for relating his honest opinion he took away from our conversation. But I will tell you that I now never share my struggles with anybody I think might be even remotely close to affecting my future opportunities. And in San Francisco, that pretty much means everybody.
I’m so delighted to see all this recent focus on the emotional life of entrepreneurs. I’ve certainly been so depressed I wanted to take my own life, and that was not that very long ago. I was never at the point where I was serious about it – but enough to say it out loud. I just couldn’t see a way out.
The way out for me – and I believe a solid way out for everybody – was self-love. Learning to love myself, even though I was firmly of the belief that there was absolutely nothing lovable about me at all, and that should any love ever get in there by accident, it would be disastrous. It was a very difficult process. It took a lot of courage to allow myself to love myself, unconditionally. It’s still easy for me to slip into loving myself for something, and then when I have an off day, I’ll get right back into self-hate, and it can last for quite a while before I catch what happened, because self-hate (sometimes masquerading as pride in myself over some accomplishment or some prospect of a bright future) has been the only state I’ve known for 38 of my almost 39 years of living.
It’s takes discipline and daily practice, but it’s so worth it.
To someday be able to talk openly about our struggles without being stigmatized would be a great win. Because the struggles are there, and they’re not about the company, they’re about us. They’re patterns we’ve brought with us from childhood or from past lives that play out in the context of our startup. I’ve always talked about “personal development through entrepreneurship”, because being an entrepreneur is like putting on a booster-rocket: Whatever issues you have are going to be magnified. If your patterns have you flying into a brick wall or succumbing to stress, it’ll only happen so much faster as an entrepreneur. And that’s a good thing, because it’s your opportunity to look at and heal some of those underlying issues so you can grow into a more whole and authentic version of you.