May 11, 2019

Sometimes I feel like I give it all, just to realise that it's not enough

michel94108

Fuck. Like I'm literally writing this on a Friday night. I noticed the time stamps on everyone's post - guess it's all good. - all good though. Here's my problem and I'm happy to hear you:

  1. When I talk to other founders, it's always a pissing contest. Not because they want to do so, but it's like hey I just raised 1 billion, how are you? (what the fuck is that?) Why can't we talk about the real things amongst friends, like yeah I just raised 1 b - but we were literally dying if we didn't raise it. Or tell me what I should look for when I raise a B. (not series - this is all an example) .

  2. Tell me bro/sis, so you have the best designer, developer - but it took you to fire several people to get to that one person. How did you get there - what questions did you ask?

  3. Tell me that I'm not the only fucking person on this world that has an idea that's a bit cray, if so - connect me with someone also crazy so we can figure it out. (That's what we mean by - looking for cofounders)

  4. Sometimes, I feel a bit lonely. Not because I don't have humans, it's because the questions above and the situations we face as founders, seems like no one can fucking answer.

  5. lastly. what does it mean to be happy. We all know it doesn't mean happiness?

  1. 10

    When I talk to other founders, it's always a pissing contest… it's like hey I just raised 1 billion, how are you?

    Man, this problem is particularly bad in SF. (Based on your Alamo Square avatar, I'm going to guess you live in SF.) It's part of the reason why I withdrew from the SF startup scene despite living here myself. I rarely see this at MicroConf, on the Indie Hackers forum, or at IH meetups. There's less bragging, more humility, more camaraderie, more willingness to say, "I don't know," and "This is hard," and "I got lucky," and "Let me help you out."

    What's the difference?

    I think fundraising plays a role. Most founders in SF are chasing a check from investors harder than they're chasing revenue from customers. It's a different game with different rules. Customers don't care about how confident and self-assured you are, but investors do. You don't show weakness to investors. Quite the opposite. You need to demonstrate relentless growth, peerless competence, and an unshakeable optimism about what you're building if you expect a stranger to hand over millions of dollars to you. And you can bet they're going to be asking around about you, so you need to project this image to everyone at all times, not just the investors you're currently pitching.

    This behavior rubs off in social situations. You ask someone here how it's going, and the answer is usually about how they're killing it. I had an acquaintance tell me he was killing it once while he was in the process of winding down his company. 🤦‍♂️

    There's also this extreme future-focused loop that people get stuck in here. Almost every founder is future-focused, but in Silicon Valley that gets amplified somehow. People here tend to imagine their future success with crystal clarity, and even if they haven't gotten there yet, they live their current life as if they're on chapter 1 of a book everyone will read some day. Sometimes that comes off as optimism, which is great, but just as often it comes off as arrogance, and I personally find it very annoying.

    Okay, I'm just theorizing about sociology and psychology and 💩ing on SF at this point, which is not helpful. The question is: What can you do about it?

    First of all, change your social circle. This may sound like a trite solution, but seriously. You can only know and interact with so many people, especially as a founder. Even if the entire society around you is nuts, switching up just 2 or 3 people you spend time around can have an enormous effect on your quality of life and they way you perceive society at large.

    Find some like-minded people who are are more on your level, humble, and helpful. Go to an Indie Hackers meetup nearby (or start your own), and keep in touch with the people you vibe with. If you're more of an introvert like me, find some people on the forum to have a video call with on a regular basis, or to join a chat group. Or meet extroverts who basically force you to be social. I'm lucky to have a few of those in my life.

    Second, change yourself. If you want to attract helpful people, be helpful. If you want to attract vulnerable people, be vulnerable. You seem like you are both of these things, so don't take this as me saying you aren't. But oftentimes we put up walls of ego and confidence that make it hard for others to want to help us out, and instead drive others to want to impress us.

    Lastly, accept the struggle. This is more of a personal quirk of mine, and I'm sure others will disagree. But when I see you say, "No one can fucking answer the situations we face as founders," and "What does it mean to be happy," I think… lean into it. I accepted a long time ago that being a founder is not the happiest path, and will instead be riddled with frustration and self-doubt and embarrassment. But it's a challenge that I personally find very meaningful for its own sake.

    This doesn't make the hard times any easier. And you're right, nobody has all the answers. But there are a lot of people going through the same struggles, the same hard times. Meeting these people and talking to them sometimes makes the struggle worthwhile all by itself.

    1. 1

      One thing I regret is not keeping in better touch with 'friends' (not directly in my industry) who could have really helped me out in harder times. I think it's so important to develop a little circle of people who you can talk to on a friendly and regular basis.

      We all often think everyone is ok, but often it is only in hindsight that you realise that so many people (if not everyone) have their own struggles. I've caught up with friends after not seeing them for years and really wished we had been there to support each other.

      I'm lucky that my husband as willingly put up with all my things I did and was normally the one who ended up listening to all my woes :|

    2. 1

      Hey Courtland, Thanks for really taking the time to understand my frustration. You're right I live in San Francisco and sometimes it can be a bit toxic to live here. I love it because being here also means you're two steps further then other people,but with that being said - it also means there's other people out there with the same idea. (buzz kill for sure) and others who aren't like you are just way way more successful. 1 out of every 1k person in sf is a billionaire. Thats real numbers.

      I agree with going to meetups (IH) in particularly. Since I've been a founder I find myself more and more as an introvert - not intentionally I promise, originally I just noticed - Hey bro and what do you do ? - Always led me down to a rabbit hole of startup.

      "Meeting these people and talking to them sometimes makes the struggle worthwhile all by itself" Thanks for that. It helps to know that I'm not going crazy - A meetup in SF is something I would really look forward to

    3. 1

      Excellently said, @csallen, as always.

  2. 2

    Hey mate...

    I don’t have any good answers for you but just wanna say: hang in there.

    I think It will get better. And if it doesn’t, maybe think about talking to someone more formally - see if they can help you process these things you’re thinking about.

  3. 1

    lastly. what does it mean to be happy. We all know it doesn't mean happiness?

    My two cents on this very easy question: you need to figure out by yourself. Yeah, I know, great advice, right?

    First, it's different from joy, which is very ephemeral. You know, when you feel happy because of something specific.

    Second, happiness would be more of a deep feeling, something you know it's always there, somewhere, inside, even when you're sad, angry or joyful.

    It gives you strength in any situation. It shows you all the time that whatever happens, there is still this life which is full of discoveries and improvements. That there is still this little flame inside you.

    I think what you need, to be happy, is a strong personal philosophy with values and goals you truly believe in. You need to love yourself as much as the others, and it's possible when your actions are on the same continuity than your personal philosophy.

    If you try to find happiness in anything which is external, I believe you won't find it. It doesn't mean that people won't make you happy, it means that you need to be happy with yourself before being happy with the others.

    Now, that's my vision, which comes back to my first sentence: it depends of you. You need to know yourself.

    How? My best bet would be through experiments: write your values somewhere, write your goals somewhere else. Test them. Live them. Follow them. Find out if you like to live with them. If not, change them, till you find the good ones, the ones which are really adapted to you.

    Try to understand your feelings when you're angry, happy. Why are you feeling that? What events played for this result? Another way: meditation. But, again, it depends on people: some will love it, some will hate it. But at least, try it. Try everything.

    It's easy to say, it's difficult to really understand, even more to live everyday. But I think it's worth the effort.

  4. 1

    The toughest thing about entrepreneurship is you have to pretend to be crushing it all the time because what customer, biz partner, third party wants to do biz with someone who is weak. Which is kinda ridiculous given the big ups and big downs of new age biz models combined with new age tools.

    1. 1

      That's exactly that Vince. Thanks for saying that ..