What It's Like To Be The CEO: Revelations and Reflections

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What It's Like To Be The CEO: Revelations and Reflections

 

The following is a guest post from Paul DeJoe, founder at, Ecquire, which provides contact management software and EIR at Fairbridge Venture Partners. This article is adapted from an answer on Quora that Paul left responding to the question “What does it feel like to be the CEO of a startup?” I reached out to Paul for permission to share his thoughts with the OnStartups.com readership. At the end of the article is an epilogue with additional notes. It's worth reading too -Dharmesh

On May 20th, either right before midnight or right after midnight, I can't remember, I posted my rendition of what it feels like to be a startup CEO to a question on Quora. 1124 votes later and one last glance at a notification of an up vote from, Jia Liu, a social game maker from Zynga, I'm going to close the Quora tab and at the recommendation of Dharmesh, write what this last few days have been like, some of the cool things I've heard and some of the great people I've met as well as what I've realized.
With that said, here's the original post that sparked such a fantastic response.

What It Feels Like To Be The CEO Of A Startup

Very tough to sleep most nights of the week. Weekends don't mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a relief. It means more people are depending on you to turn their investment into 20 times what they gave you.

It's very difficult to "turn it off". But at the same time, television, movies and vacations become so boring to you when your company's future might be sitting in your inbox or in the results of a new A/B test you decided to run.

You feel guilty when you're doing something you like doing outside of the company. Only through years of wrestling with this internal fight do you recognize how the word "balance" is an art that is just as important as any other skill set you could ever hope to have. You begin to see how valuable creativity is and that you must think differently not only to win, but to see the biggest opportunities. You recognize you get your best ideas when you're not staring at a screen. You see immediate returns on healthy distractions.

You start to respect the Duck. Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you. You learn the hard way that if you lose your cool you lose.

You always ask yourself if I am changing the World in a good way? Are people's lives better for having known me?

You are creative and when you have an idea it has no filter before it becomes a reality. This feeling is why you can't do anything else.

You start to see that the word "entrepreneur" is a personality. It's difficult to talk to your friends that are not risking the same things you are because they are content with not pushing themselves or putting it all out there in the public with the likelihood of failure staring at them everyday. You start to turn a lot of your conversations with relatives into how they might exploit opportunities for profit. Those close to you will view your focus as something completely different because they don't understand. You don't blame them. They can't understand if they haven't done it themselves. It's why you will gravitate towards other entrepreneurs. You will find reward in helping other entrepreneurs. This is my email address: paul[at]ecquire.com Let me know if I can help you with anything.

Your job is to create a vision, a culture, to get the right people on the bus and to inspire. When you look around at a team that believes in the vision as much as you do and trusts you will do the right thing all the time, it's a feeling that can't be explained. The exponential productivity from great people will always amaze you. It's why finding the right team is the most difficult thing you will do but the most important. This learning will affect your life significantly. You will not settle for things anymore because you will see what is possible when you hold out for the best and push to find people that are the best. You don't have a problem anymore being honest with people about not cutting it.

onstarltups aviator 2
You start to see that you're a leader and you have to lead or you can't be involved with it at all. You turn down acquisition offers because you need to run the show and you feel like your team is the best in the World and you can do anything with hard work. Quitting is not an option.

You have to be willing to sleep in your car and laugh about it. You have to be able to laugh at many things because when you think of the worse things in the World that could happen to your company, they will happen. Imagine working for something for two years and then have to throw it out completely because you see in one day that it's wrong. You realize that if your team is having fun and can always laugh that you won't die, and in fact, the opposite will happen: you will learn to love the journey and look forward to what you do everyday even at the lowest times. You'll learn not to get too low when things are bad and not to get too high when things are good and you'll even give that advice. But you'll never take it because being in the middle all the time isn't exciting and an even keel is never worth missing out on something worth celebrating. You'll become addicted to finding the hardest challenges because there's a direct relationship between how difficult something is and the euphoria of a feeling when you do the impossible.

You realize that it's much more fun when you didn't have money and that money might be the worse thing you could have as a personal goal. If you're lucky enough to genuinely feel this way, it is a surreal feeling that is the closest thing to peace because you realize it's the challenges and the work that you love. Your currencies are freedom, autonomy, responsibility and recognition. Those happen to be the same currencies of the people you want around you.

You feel like a parent to your customers in that they will never realize how much you love them and it is they who validate you are not crazy. You want to hug every one of them. They mean the World to you.

You learn the most about yourself more than any other vocation as an entrepreneur. You learn what you do when you get punched in the face many many times. You learn what you do when no one is looking and when no one would find out. You learn that you are bad at many things, lucky if you're good at a handful of things and the only thing you can ever be great at is being yourself which is why you can never compromise it. You learn how power and recognition can be addicting and see how it could corrupt so many.

You become incredibly grateful for the times that things were going as bad as they possibly could. Most people won't get to see this in any other calling. When things are really bad, there are people that come running to help and don't think twice about it. Tal Raviv, Gary Smith, Joe Reyes, Toan Dang, Vincent Cheung, Eric Elinow, Abe Marciano are some of them. I will forever be in their debt and I could never repay them nor would they want or expect to be repaid.

You begin to realize that in life, the luckiest people in the World only get one shot at being a part of something great. Knowing this helps you make sense of your commitment.

Of all the things said though, it's exciting. Every day is different and so exciting. Even when it's bad it's exciting. Knowing that your decisions will not only affect you but many others is a weight that I would rather have any day than the weight of not controlling my future. That's why I could not do anything else.

Epilogue


In the post, I had shared my email with everyone to see with the hopes of encouraging anyone that needed any help to reach out to me directly. I was fortunate enough that so many people took me up on this offer. The exchanges we had ranged from skype calls, testing some new products, sharing ideas and even joining an advisory board. Most of the emails I got though were just people that thanked me for the post, shared their contact information, and said things like David did:
"…likewise, if there's any way I can be of help or service, let me know."
For those of you that have reached out to me and shared some of your life with me, thank you beyond words. It has been flattering, fulfilling and, and humbling. For those that have voted up the answer and said some of the kindest, coolest and most amazing comments anyone could ever hear. I thank you. And my startup parents thank you. Suddenly the 80,000lb student loan Gorilla with no income to feed him seemed to take the week off and was replaced with elation when reading some amazing comments. It meant a lot. Thank you again.
What might be a surprise to hear though is that it felt very uncomfortable to me to say "thank you" and I was doing it a lot. Seemingly overnight, there was a collective up vote from over 1,000 people that shared similar feelings and situations. I started to get the feeling that this wasn't me that wrote this and became uncomfortable taking credit. This post gained attention because it was the collective post by everyone who contributed with a comment or a vote and if I hadn't been lucky enough to come across this question, someone else would have wrote this. It might have been better or not but it would have at least been appreciated in the same way had another entrepreneur wrote it.
I don't recall seeing too many notifications of a down vote and that made me realize a few things:
This post became an online meet up for a group of people that are committed to changing the World. And rightfully, as well as fittingly so, it's very difficult and a sometimes a seemingly unsurmountable undertaking. But what was encouraging was not one person in the entire comments (go ahead and look) or in the emails that I received, said that they were overwhelmed or going to quit. They all found this inspirational and motivating and just the little encouragement needed that led to a found appreciation for what they do and and a reminder that they're not the only crazy ones.
The most common response I received however sounded like: "Thank you for this. I forwarded your answer to my friends and family to help them understand." One person even said that their Mom thanked me for the post (Thanks, Renee for sharing). Unfortunately, and sometimes rightfully so, entrepreneurs are commonly misunderstood by people outside of our networks and by people we love. It's mostly our fault. Although we are not understood most of the time, we take for granted that while we're often misunderstood, we are always accepted and supported. What we don't say thank you enough for, and what we often take for granted, is the very thing that let's us be who we are and chase our dreams. The people around us that love us unconditionally without regard for how bad we might fail is the equivalent of a superhero's cape. Without this, and without someone we can share the ups and downs with, great things do not happen. They can't. The things that are worth while to pursue and dedicate a life to involve something way bigger than individuals and have to be completely selfless or they are not big enough and not worth celebrating if the goal does not have the well being of others in mind. A collective thank you on behalf of this group of people that are crazy enough to change the World goes out to you. Thank you. If you are reading this because it has been forwarded to you, please know that you are appreciated and it's difficult for, often times quirky introverts to articulate. You don't have to change anything, we don't say it enough but it's with you in mind that we find motivation. You possess the most scarce resource of all: Undying and unnerving support. Thank you for it.
Lastly, undoubtedly the greatest thing that came from this post was an amazing calm that came over me that was during the most fulfilling, rewarding, interesting and fun week of this tumultuous journey to build a company. It came at the intersection of being able to interact with all of these individuals and being able to see all at one time, the collective resolve, ambition and just how dynamic these people are. The content of who these people actually are, how many of them there are and that they actually exist under our noses, let my imagination of what was possible wander in a positive direction for the first time in a while. It was powerful enough to spin the negative outlook I thought we were inevitably leaving for future generations. What I have just said, you would have not heard me say one week ago. It also made me realize something for which I will forever be grateful to all of those that contributed to this post. I realized what I am supposed to do to be fulfilled and happy in life:
Inspire.
I can tell you first hand, from over 1,000 data points and messages, that there is no better feeling than when you inspire or when you can help. When you genuinely help, it's a good feeling that is impossible to suppress. It's impossible to suppress for a reason: It feels good in the most selfless way possible. Entrepreneurs will make their own mistakes along the way, millions in fact. They have to to learn and improve. Don't discourage them from trying. There's no reason to. It's a useless thing to do and it might be enough to delay the doctor that cures cancer or the visionary that brings sustainable water to Africa when a simple word of encouragement was the only push they needed.
Inspire. Help and do so with other people and future generations in mind. Wouldn't it be the coolest thing in the World if we were the generation that consistently got punched in the face, didn't complain, didn't slow down, picked up our lunch pales and went out everyday to create sustainable opportunities for a generation that we haven't met yet? If that sounds crazy, ambitious, and delusional it's because it is and that's the way we have to have it or it's not worth our time. As crazy as it sounds, I can assure you that it will only require one thing for all of us to do for it to become real. It requires that we all inspire. 
What do you think?

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Tue, Jun 05, 2012

COMMENTS

Sales, sales & sales.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 10:19 AM by 4thAugust1932


Stress, plus more stress and a bit of stress. 
 
Also, the best work i can dream.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:32 AM by Joseph Martz


I have felt many times the urge to sit and write my feelings - you have done it for me, Thank you so much, B Mac

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:37 AM by Bob McCracken


You also realize after a while (or maybe at the very beginning) that you don't actually have all the answers, and that there are some things you can't discuss with your team. It's important to find a good mentor that you can have lunch with every month or two so you can work out thorny issues and keep the big picture straight.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:38 AM by Akira Hirai


Great read, while I've been involved in alot of Start-Ups in my past from a marketing or web-development capacity I've never really had a feel for what the CEO's felt, thought or feared. I think this article is going to help me better communicate with CEO's from here out. Thanks for sharing man!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:41 AM by Thomas Gilliland


Spot on! Well said!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:44 AM by Anders Emblad


That is beautiful. Well done. A true entrepreneur must live by 3 simple words - "whatever it takes" 
 

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:45 AM by Michael Fallat


It's 2.47 am - again! Yeah - Whatever it takes!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:47 AM by jane


Great article. I have found that in regards to my distributors my biggest assets are also time-freedom, financial-freedom, autonomy, automation, responsibility, pride, recognition and inspiration. 
 
The all bring us a higher quality of life. Instant Daily Pay

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:47 AM by Karl Jackson


What an inspiringly superb write up! It got to a point, it felt like you re talking about me...lol

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:48 AM by JUGOmoney


Thanks for articulating some of the things I've been feeling. And noticing this:  
 
"When things are really bad, there are people that come running to help and don't think twice about it." 
 
The flip side of that is running to help others when their own dark days arise.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:50 AM by Ian Lamont


It's rewarding to read this, and I share many of the same feelings. I'm in a little different space because I'm filmmaker & photographer, and I'm African-American. The creative output, undying optimism, and never-ending quest for "something better" is always there, and "team-building" is one of the biggest challenges I face.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:51 AM by Thaddeus Govan Jr


I'm in! AWESOME POST! 
voted up!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:52 AM by Alex


Loved the inner challenge and relatability comments. it is very hard to explain, why; and most times can only be understood by those who have an unstoppable passion for overcoming and serving!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:55 AM by Kelley


Thanks, excellent writing style, motivational and unselfish...Best, JD

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:02 PM by Joe Deiss


I have started 7 companies and been involved mostly with start ups. The CEOs sat around in meetings and waited to get lucky in spite of everything like MicroSoft, Facebook, or Twitter. The VCs didn't know and didn't want to hear it. The CEOs were cool, calm, and collected as they closed the doors.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:08 PM by Emmett Smith


I am amazed how all hearts within different start-up CEOs beat in same fashion but more so how one person can summarize it in words, so beautifully. 
Thanks Paul for a wonderful write and Dharmesh for bringing to us here on OnStartups.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:10 PM by Vinay Singh


Thank you for the great post! Realizing all the commonalities between entrepreneurs is the greatest feeling and is a reminder that we are not alone on this crazy ride...

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:10 PM by Kim


While I was feeling a bit on the low side and feeling what I do isn't at all prosperous .I received a pop up from my Outlook mail.I stopped and took the time to read this and realized that you expressed how I felt and how many others have felt.Knowing what I read was almost like it was me.I started to think about it thoroughly and you are completely right .I get my biggest enjoyment from helping others in anyway I can even if I'm not always sure ,I still go and find out.The only thing missing is to have a mentor to guide or to understand that what I do is a practical and viable concept.With all that has been said,Thank you for the uplifting and positive way to look at it all.This journey I'm on is the gift that was given by the love of all things new and the guidance that I will always read from the many many great people out here. 
 
J.L.Fleury Solutions 
Mgr/Consultant 
Lionel (JL) Fleury 
www.jlfleurysolutions.ca 
j.l.fleury@bell.net 
Bus.#1-705-673-5930

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:12 PM by Lionel(JL)Fleury


It takes a lot of stress and hard work to succeed, but the outcome worth everything. Being an entrepreneur is one of the best feeling I ever mat.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:15 PM by Virgil


trusted work group; 
confidence through belief and devotion in ur belief........one of the mantras for an etnreprenuer

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:16 PM by ravi


First, Thank You for sharing your insights, congratulations on your successes for making this a better world. 
 
My start ups, 5 in the 10 years since I retired, share the goals of others wanting to give back - we, when we are safe enough, want to provide others with safety, health, education, and opportunity.  
 
If you are giving back, to your children, your community, or the world, I will be glad to help your efforts - please use our technology at no cost. 
 
My personal goal is to do something meaningful for under served inner city families, especially keeping children safe and able to go to school without interference from bullies. My first 10 years of life were in the inner city of Chicago. The difference between the inner city and the small town in Wisconsin we moved to, has never left me.  
 
I have always felt the need to make a difference. I have refined and focused current technology advances on the need to keep people safe; family, community, staff, employees, all the people in our lives.  
 
Please forward this message and link, http://preview.tinyurl.com/7krzqg4, to people who worry with the responsibility for others, family to foundations and charities. 
 
Mo -www.SafeTFirst.com 
www.MoBjornestad.com 
MoBjornestad@SafeTFirst.com

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:16 PM by Mo Bjornestad


Being in the process of starting my own company I can correlate 100% with this. It gives me comfort to know what I am going thru is something every startup CEO/Co-founder have gone thru.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:18 PM by SuMu


I believe this post totally describes my thoughts and feelings. I've saved this on iBook and i'l be reading this again and again. Awesome post .

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:18 PM by Ayobami Macaulay


My thoughts exactly. I thought I was weird for the longest time, but I guess I'm not alone after all.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:19 PM by Kevin Kim


Inspirational and instantly felt ts my story, and yes! the balance is what i am still trying to figure out, but was releived to know that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for the great post.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:21 PM by Arti Sharma


The unwritten how to, has just been written... It takes a special breed to endure and dream, you my friend are surly one of that breed. 
 
 
 
Very well done. ~S~

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:22 PM by Scott D Wilton


This post was awesome and inspiring, thank you. 
 
The only thing I find unfortunate (which has nothing to do with you): 
 
"Wouldn't it be the coolest thing in the World if we were the generation that consistently got punched in the face, didn't complain, didn't slow down, picked up our lunch pales and went out everyday to create sustainable opportunities for a generation that we haven't met yet? If that sounds crazy, ambitious, and delusional..." 
 
Why is that so crazy? Sounds like every generation ever prior to modern day America. It's sad that hard work, sacrifice and achievement have become 'crazy'.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:23 PM by Phil


Thank you for telling the truth!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:25 PM by Leah Smiley


Thank you so much for this post, its exactly what I needed to hear today.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:33 PM by Brenda Saez


What a great post. It truly inspires. 
It inspires me to take a chance, to take a risk, and know that I am doing the right thing. 
I know I have the spirit growing in me to be an entrepreneur. And I won't quit until I succeed.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:35 PM by Andrew Diamond


At first I was quite upset I never took the time to write the very same letter. Being involved in my 3rd start at the moment I find your words inspiring such as they will keep me going for another round. Thank you and have a great summer! 
 
 
 
Maxpanda.com

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:44 PM by Maxwell Davidson


Great Article and dead on many points. I think few one point that could be added on is the tremendous support system required to be a CEO; Family, Mentors, Well Wishers,etc.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 12:56 PM by Sundeep Sanghavi


That is possibly the best article I have read in a very long time. Thank you for the boost and the inspiration. Push on!!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 1:07 PM by Luke Sankey


It's really pretty simple: 
 
1. Don't be afraid to try. 
 
2. Don't be afraid to fail. 
 
3. Don't be afraid to ask. 
 
4. Bear the blame; share the glory.  
 
5. Repeat #1 - 4 as often as possible.  
 
It's the best job in the world; everything else is a distant second.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 1:08 PM by Andrew Ellis


Thanks for Sharing Great Article. 
 
 
 
Jim Desai 
 
www.marlanindustries.com 
 

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 1:23 PM by Jim Desai


What else can I say? This is it, plus family backup!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 1:33 PM by Carlos Bassi


thanks for this post.  
 
its good therapy for us folks in the hot seat 
 
mark

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 1:38 PM by mark slater


I'm a habitual entrepreneur. I've learned CEO means chief EVERYTHING officer on the startup. Now on my startups, I out-task the non-revenue producing activities so I can dedicate 50% of my time selling.  
 
Some folks SAY they want to be entrepreneurs others want to DO something as an entrepreneur. The former have trouble facing the never ending challenges facing a startup. The later find the tenacity and relentlessness to make a go of it....

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 1:47 PM by Jim


First of all it's very interesting, because you are building your dream.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:05 PM by Dimitri


THE WHY. With a stong enough "WHY" anything is possible. The "WHY" is the key.  
 
 
 
Thank you for the article. As an entrepreneur and as an attorney helping entrepreneurs, I loved the article!  
 
 
 
A Sincere Thank You. 
 
Michelle L. Grenier, Esq. 
 
Grenier Law Offices, PC

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:05 PM by Michelle L. Grenier, Esq. Business Lawyer/Entrepreneur


Great article. Being an entrepreneur is all of the above.  
You're also running a war with people working with you that you love and protecting assets that are borrowed and trying your best to protect those assets. The loneliness at times is unbearable, Doubts are rampant. All you have is a crazy idea and you job is to convince others they need this crazy idea that will do "X" or "Y" and life will never be the same unless they actually buy this crazy idea.  
Yeah, it's insane. The validation comes when you start doubling sales and one day you walk out the front door of your own building or enter a restaurant and people whisper "that's him".  
 

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:07 PM by Joe LaMacchia


Couldn't agree more with this post. It's like going out with my girlfriend - thrilling, mental, inexplicable, yet I wouldn't change it for the world. Thanks for this great post!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:11 PM by Sam


Being CEO of a startup does not necessarily mean an endless round of scrounging for financing, the best employees and collaborators, and no sleep. What many people forget is that even sole owner-operators of their enterprises are CEO entrepreneurs, and can have very few of the stresses you describe while still growint their business. This is not said to dismiss any of the things you go through and overcome, but to let you know that it doesn't have to be so hard and so lonely at the top. You don't have to make all of the decisions alone, and if you begin with a good team of colleagues as advisors, the trip is easier.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:13 PM by Laura Canales CPA


What you failed to comment on is the "entrepreneur" who cannot differentiate between cost and investment. Some of them succeed, but they cannot and do not change the world. 
 

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:15 PM by Vivek Khanna


Excellent read.. Seemed like I am reading my story.. Well done chief..

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:17 PM by Bhavin Gandhi


I discovered this post during a down day. I now remember why I'm doing it and that a walk in the park does have value. Thank you.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:25 PM by Nick


This post is truely invigorating & nourishing to my thought. Its worth spreading round to my colleagues & friends. Thanks a million times for taking out your time to state this. Thanks again

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:27 PM by Don boi


Thanks for the post and for everyone's comments. All so eye-opening for this newbie!

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 2:29 PM by Reba


Great Post. 
I wrote a similar type of post on my experience running a start-up on BostInno last month http://bostinno.com/channels/startup-life-somewhere-between-suicide-and-instagram/. Would love to read more of other peoples experiences. Paul is absolutely right, unless you are an entrepreneur, you just don't get it.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 4:28 PM by Matt Hoper


Love the responses! Can I make a reference to it when teaching entrepreneurship to my students?.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 5:11 PM by Martha Contreras


Right on. Great article. 
 
 
 
As a startup owner all my failures are threatening to run over me and I am running harder to outrun them.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 5:37 PM by Lakshmi


Ha. I was right there, till I got excluded by the bit about "we" being in a particular generation. 
 
Still, very cool...even from an old guy's perspective.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 5:55 PM by David


Great post now I know why it is I am driven like this. driven to seek something that I do not know, terrified that I will never know but know just the same that once that little voice of the entrepreneur speaks up it will not be ignored. Surround yourself with like minded people who get this in you, who see it in themselves and who can accept you for that crazy drive to seek to give and inspire the world. It will make it easier to fit in to the other areas of your life and the fabulous people you love who are not "like" you  
xthank you 
Natalie 

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 6:24 PM by Natalie


Thanks, Thanks & thanks for this great post. It is indeed heart warming and inspiring. The reflections are synonymous with my experiences thus far as a startup executive. It has been a complex mix of various feelings and events. However, the most inspiring aspect is to realize that a whole lot of people may depend on every singular decision you make. There will always be ups & downs but the best approach is to surround yourself with like minded people who share same dream and passion as you do (this i call the perfect team). Thanks once again. I would be glad to have you in my linkedin network.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 6:32 PM by Ifeanyi


Paul - Sorry to be late to the party, but thank you so much for opening up and sharing all of these thoughts, feelings, revelations, hopes, dreams, realities, and bearing your soul on the alter of entrepreneurship - you are an inspiration. Cheers.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 6:51 PM by Nick Eubanks


"Wouldn't it be the coolest thing in the World if we were the generation that consistently got punched in the face, didn't complain, didn't slow down, picked up our lunch pales and went out everyday to create sustainable opportunities for a generation that we haven't met yet?" 
 
This alone gave me goosebumps and cemented my decision to move down this path. Thank you.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 6:52 PM by Coopz


Now I realise, I'm not crazy, I'm just an entrepreneur. :) 
 
Sportkin is a place for where entrepreneurs meet with people in their local community, and let their ideas be heard by the people around them, and their passion to be demonstrated, because Sport doesn't make ones personality, it accentuates it. 
 
<a>http://www.sportkin.com<a>

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 8:08 PM by Christopher Sarich


I read this article by Dharmesh and I thought, finally someone has captured in words just how I feel on a daily basis. I shared it with family and friends because I know at time they must think I have lost my compass or my mind! Onward through the creative fog.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 8:49 PM by Fred Hann


Wonderful article. Made me realize how fortunate we were to have the great team of people for the FedEx startup. They just stuck with our crazy idea and would not quit. Your article brings back the wonderful times and reminds me why I wrote "Changing How the World Does Business" as a thank you to those dedicated people who made us successful.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 9:28 PM by Roger Frock


Hi! 
I can truly understand and feel nice that every entrepreneur goes through the same experiences. Truly truly true. 
This I quote as a spouse of an entrepreneur and have felt the same way many number of times. glad to see that we are not alone in this journey. 

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 10:44 PM by Nithya


"You feel guilty when you're doing something you like doing outside of the company. Only through years of wrestling with this internal fight do you recognize how the word "balance" is an art that is just as important as any other skill set you could ever hope to have. You begin to see how valuable creativity is and that you must think differently not only to win, but to see the biggest opportunities. You recognize you get your best ideas when you're not staring at a screen. You see immediate returns on healthy distractions." 
 
I feel this way too. It's because there's the feeling of running life on someone else's money, such that any time spent on other things felt awkward for a while. 
 
"You realize that it's much more fun when you didn't have money and that money might be the worse thing you could have as a personal goal. If you're lucky enough to genuinely feel this way, it is a surreal feeling that is the closest thing to peace because you realize it's the challenges and the work that you love. Your currencies are freedom, autonomy, responsibility and recognition. Those happen to be the same currencies of the people you want around you." 
 
Same reason why I chose to work with others, and I hold only an "owner" status where I'll advise and setup the businesses' websites (I run 2), while others who are stronger in the day-to-day tasks get to work and make a living out of it (I hold approx. 10% of monthly earnings with anyone who are willing to work with me).

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:33 PM by Daniel Richard


Great Post ... truly motivational

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:35 PM by Ajit Kottara


Anyone who is their own boss feels the same as you - not just startup CEOs. I have my own business, and I quickly learned I can't talk to people who are regular employees about work - I just don't care what they have to say. It's booooring. Congrats. You just became self aware of your differentness. Upside - you can control your own destiny. Downside - you probably won't ultimately be any happier than those who work for the weekend. But it is what it is and you can't change it, so embrace it.

posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2012 at 11:52 PM by Ken


Wonderful and gives me pleasure to read this article which reflects how i feel and what i think. 
 

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 2:30 AM by Rajeev


Awesome Write up. Thanks a Ton. 
Need Help on beginning my Start up. 
 
Let's be friends on facebook... my id: vishaldiwan11@gmail.com 
 
Regards. 

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 2:37 AM by Vishal


A really wonderful article. I read it once but will most definitely read it agian. 
 
 
 
THANK YOU PAUL for writing this and THANK YOU DHARMESH for sharing.

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 2:44 AM by Cyriac


U r simply great... 
 
right on spot...!!

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 2:48 AM by amit


I've just started an adventure online and it's very fun because I feel the same way as you explained in your post. It was a relief to know that there are many people out there that feel as I feel. It was very comforting.

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 3:01 AM by LIRIOS


I like to call us 'Vision-keepers'. It's a lonely road, and yet we are many! 
Thanks Dharmesh for sharing - it was like looking in a mirror.

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 5:14 AM by Agata


Just like many others did, and more will do: Thank you very much for writting this, and thank you Dharmesh for sharing it.  
 
Spot on Paul, I will gladly share this with others. If you ever need any help whatsoever, let me know:)

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 5:16 AM by Vytis Duknauskas


They say "If you love what you do, you don't have to work a single day of your life", that kind of sums up the role of a CEO of a start up.  

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 5:16 AM by NK Verma


It bought a tear to my eye. You have a gift for writing and articulating exactly what it is to be the CEO of a startup. I have found if you try and detach yourself for a certain outcome and just enjoy the journey and experience, the load to carry gets lighter. I will forward this to fellow entrepreneurs, my family and the guy I want to be my mentor. Cheers

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 6:03 AM by Rob skinner


Hey, mega funny photo, the kid with the rocket in their back :-)) 
 
Where come from that photo?? 
 
I want it ;-)

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 6:06 AM by Tsunami


Your letter has worked as a catalyst! good enough to bring together and show mirror to us about what all we have already gone through and are doing. It works... a lot of encouragement; motivation and a feel of belonging. 
 
Thank you & Three Cheers 
Nishant 
Raise Solutions Private Ltd.

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 7:30 AM by Nishant Sharma


Great post! I'd like to add that when you become CEO of a start-up, you truly understand the meaning of the cliche,"It's lonely at the top". That's when you become a leader.

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 7:53 AM by Cynthia Kocialski


Oh boy, 
 
 
 
Did you really write this? Or was it collective experience of thousands of entrepreneurs across the world pouring through you? 
 
 
 
Thank you, awesome. The low days, the high days, the what should i do now days - no one who hasnt been on this road will understand any of this or why we do what we do. And our loved ones who stand by our sides with that magical cape that protects us. 
 
 
 
Thank you Paul. Thanks for the travel journal. 
 
 
 
Good luck and god speed. 
 
 
 
Raj Mohan

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 9:09 AM by Raj Mohan


Wow Paul! You truly broke ground here in articulating the very inner feelings. You helped me realize what is going on inside me and related in a way that will help me push through it. Much thanks!

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 1:39 PM by Ben


Amen. Fabulously insightful!

posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 4:12 PM by Brian Tepper


Finding the right people to help carry a vision is really important. When I started out... hell.. I am still starting out, I thought, friends are cool, intelligent and crazy ass smart so I spoke with them and got them on board my vision only to learn later that not all my wish me well friends were cut out to help me. Sometimes, as entrepreneurs we have to understand that not everybody is meant to help us on our way. that some people have to stay in the blenches to cheer us on.  
this is a really inspiring post and I will share it also on my wall because I found it on a friends wall. Thanks Guud Kelly for sharing this and thanks Dharmesh for posting this.

posted on Thursday, June 07, 2012 at 4:13 AM by


nothing new really. it's like a married woman divorced not due to her own inclination but one of those 'no-fault-really?' kinda of separation for a better unknown future for mother and child.

posted on Thursday, June 07, 2012 at 9:29 AM by susan


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight with you, then you win." Mahatma Gandhi

posted on Thursday, June 07, 2012 at 11:05 AM by Cathleen Colehour


Thanks very much for sharing this. It's verbatim true. An awesome read!

posted on Friday, June 08, 2012 at 4:14 AM by Sanjay Singh


Deep gratitude to both Dharmesh and Paul ... inspirational and easy read ... Thank you for keeping the flame going !

posted on Saturday, June 09, 2012 at 1:19 PM by Sanjiv Manifest


Nice article Dharmesh and great reply Paul.

posted on Saturday, June 09, 2012 at 8:24 PM by Aman


Thank you for explaining this to me. It seems to me that he is in love with his work not me and the kids. Now I have decisions to make.

posted on Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 8:16 AM by Anna


The best advise I ever got was: Never give up and gain traction quickly! I currently live in Lagos, Nigeria. This article is Awesome! Thank you for sharing this. I'm with you all the way!

posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM by Michael A.


"You feel like a parent to your customers in that they will never realize how much you love them and it is they who validate you are not crazy. You want to hug every one of them. They mean the World to you. " Couldn't agree more, and this is what separates entrepreneurial people/business from "big" business. If only people [customers] would appreciate this fact, there would be no more, "no one got sacked for buying Big Blue". Great post and I concur with almost every word!

posted on Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 10:29 AM by Richard


Paul, 
 
I don't think anyone else could explain startup life with such depth. 
 
You really get it. 
 
Thanks, 
Jesal

posted on Friday, June 15, 2012 at 1:57 PM by Jesal Sangani


I am in pre-launch and very excited.I have the back up of a very large energy company called Just Energy, Uk Name Huddson Energy 
 
 
 
Momentis are launching Energy Miser with global patent this device is guaranteed to reduce electric bill by 15% to 20% or money back. Also reduce harmful EMF emissions. So it has health benefits as well. Watch the video http://youtu.be/XQZVWTSB1JY

posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 4:22 AM by Derek Telles


As an entrepreneur in a company serving mainly startups and SMBs, <a>www.printingforless.com<a>, I speak to many customers every week. This post captures much of what I hear from them. When someone is calling at 10pm about a print order, I'll often ask why they are working so late. Invariably the answer is some version of "whatever it takes." America's entrepreneurs are an important part of what makes this the greatest nation on earth.

posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 1:36 PM by Andrew Field


Loving the post. My mission in life is to Raise Myself To Help Mankind as I know when I raise my own standards every body around me is positively infected. Lets all keep driving forward in this changing world.

posted on Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 6:12 PM by Belton Bass


Hi Dharmesh, 
You stole my words! I have been thinking about writing about the same article, but haven't done that in a while and you hit the nail on the head with this article! Grats!

posted on Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM by Robert


Dharmesh; You have nailed it!!The very passion, drive, dreams of granduer drive us forward regardless of cost - although cost should be measured, it should never be the reason. I am grateful and relieved at the same time that I am not going insane - its just natural. Cheers

posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 1:20 PM by PAUL


Great article with great replies. It seems other pre-ceo's also caught the attitude and were motivated. I like your mention of 'You don't have a problem anymore being honest with people about not cutting it.' Since others related to the attitude and not just the experience, I would have added something about 'forgetting if your title is CEO, CMO or VP; you just get stuff done.' Well written and motivational, thanks.

posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 9:48 PM by John Pugliese


That was well documented,i thank you for the motivation.In startup and its a nightmare...But thanks again.And all of the best with your future plans.

posted on Friday, June 22, 2012 at 3:25 PM by Constant Vollenhoven


Rubbish article. When you go bankrupt and rely on tax payers benefits then everything is forgotten. Do some proper work.

posted on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 5:19 AM by Nazaruk


Right on the money, Paul. Many thanks.

posted on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 6:47 AM by Thomas Vaassen


Really nice experience shared i pump up after reading it... Thanks

posted on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 10:48 AM by A .Rahman


I can't explain how happy and relieve I am after reading this post. Now I know I am not alone. Thank you so much for sharing.

posted on Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 7:42 AM by Jose Darrel Bella


Most points are my sentiments exactly.. a great reminder for me to be grateful for the experiences and lessons I have gone through and am still going through. Also, it's amusing to see some are relieved to know they are not alone in feeling this way.

posted on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 9:39 AM by Eileen


Freedom, autonomy, responsibility and recognition will be currencies I would promote among entrepreneur students. Great ideas to be included in an entrepreneurship program, among others "you get your best ideas when you are not staring at a screen". Thanks!

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2012 at 1:23 PM by Martha Contreras


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