12 thoughts on “Get Psyched!”

  1. I think all of the “you need to be strong willed to succeed” advice is well-taken, but let’s not ignore another important point – it really helps to be incredibly well-connected to talent, advisors and venture capitalists to make things happen. 9 times out of 10 when you read about a hot SV startup, you can trace their success back to the people they knew going into it.}

  2. Jack,
    Thanx for writing an excellent article. Having recently started a new startup(www.bikinizero.com), I have gone through many of the said startup symptoms. I also had been working for 3 months without a day off, I finally took a weekend off and was able to not focus on the business. Well needless to say come Monday morning, I had gained new insights and perspectives that I had not seen while in the trenches. Thanx for the renewed perspective.}

  3. Jack – can you tell us more about your failures. I often find that a good conceptual understanding of why something failed is more valuable than why something succeeded.

    Especially where the failed company was beaten by a competitor in the marketplace.}

  4. Taking care of your body has huge mental rewards. Often I find myself realizing solutions to issues right after getting my wind back from a 45 minute treadmill, or during a break from a several mile hike. Eating well and exercising gives me the stamina to push through crunch periods when others’ fatigue renders them useless. Meditating, maintaining a presence in the now and trusting one’s decision instincts goes a long way towards silencing the inner critic. I’ve also found that if I’m feeling stressed to check my thinking against this list:
    which is a great means to tell if you’re playing yourself and cut it out.}

  5. Matt – Thanks for the question. I had more “near death” experiences than actual death with the start-ups that I was part of. Luck was certainly a factor but only a small one. More importantly, it is about how we handled each near death incident. That’s what I mean by feeling despair and hopeless. A smart team or a mentally prepared founder has the ability to transfer the negative energy to innovations and breakthroughs. Winner and losers are decided right there. In the Interwoven case, we were almost dead several times – running out of money with no Silicon Valley VC willing to invest in us, in-fights, massive delay of the initial product launch, failed to deliver a product that would give us 100% more revenue and market. 2.5 years later, the company was worth $7 billions and everyone thought Interwoven was destined to succeed. That was so far from the truth if we knew what we went through. NOTE, in no case, we were down because of competitions. I learned in hard ways that a startup’s biggest and maybe the only enemy is itself. It is the people within.

    By definition, a startup will fail. There are way too many reasons why a startup can and will die. It is like hiking through the Amazon jungles. There is no known path that will get us out of there. We are dead for sure if the hiker doesn’t have the fundamental survival skills INDEPENDENT of each roadblock. Luck can only carry us so far. Then it is all about our determination, flexibility and mental & physical readiness.}

  6. Will – I want to challenge the assumption that you need to know a lot of people before you can start a company. Certainly you need to be in the field working for a few years before taking on the world. And you need to network often and wide. However, when I started Baynote, my connections (after being Interwoven CTO for 8 years) were not near to be enough. I allocated $5,000 to buy people breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks just to get their feedback. I didn’t know Prof. Cliff Nass and Prof. Rajeev Motwani, the two professors at Stanford who helped me PROFOUNDLY for the foundation of Baynote. However I knew people who knew them. The 6 degrees of separation told us that we are all very closely connected. For starting a business, the important people are within 2 or 3 degrees from you. If we cannot find those advisors to exchange ideas, how can we later find customers to test and sell our products?}

  7. Jack – very inspiring. I found myself in your article many times. Being in the seed phase of a sns in germany, which is a way tougher market still for vertical networks than especially SV is, lets me discover behavioral patterns and bodly reactions which I didn’t know I had until I got to start this venture. Thanks for putting in words what I had felt over the last couple of month and giving me strength through knowing that all of this is normal and I not the only one…}

  8. Jack, Totally agree.I’m six months into my new start-up. We’ve already done work for big name clients – General Motors, RayBan, Warner Bros. Records – helping them get their video exposed on blogs, video share sites and p2p services. But every day is a struggle. Those dark moments would be less stressful if I had a partner. I would suggest adding that to the list, maybe, Fear of Committing, and paying the price for it. http://www.feedcompany.com}

  9. It took me over two years to muster up the nads to take the leap into the entrepreneurial life. Dealing with the fear before and now has been the largest hurdle. And I see more coming.

    Ahhhhhh, I am going for a bike ride!}

  10. Jack – thanks very much for your response. I think the overall message is that when you think its dead – keep on going.

    If anything it’ll prolong the amount of time available for the “stars to align”, or more accurately, for you to find a way to make some luck.}

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