I wanted to write about how in the last two weeks I’ve made the insane realization that this option has always been available. What option? The option to build, the option to create, the option to run your own show, the option to be happy – is available. You do not have to work for people you don’t like. You don’t have to do work you don’t find meaningful.
This post isn’t anything novel or anything new. I’m sure Seth Godin has already written anything I could come up with regarding taking the leap and just starting to create things on your own. What I want to emphasize is the fact that I just took the option to build, and boy is it incredible.
But it’s also hard. You can’t just quit your job and be a drifter. Well, I guess you can, but you’ll probably end up like these guys.
The first day LaunchGram got into our offices at the 10xelerator my co-founder, Zach Boerger, threw on a YouTube video of Eric Thomas talking over a video of Giavanni Ruffin and Explosions in the Sky and two parts of the video stuck with me. One was the phrase, “when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” Later he talks about how 50 Cent’s response to being asked when he slept because he was working so much, “Sleep? Sleep is for those people who are broke. I don’t sleep. I have an opportunity to make a dream become a reality.”
Michael Arrington and a whole slew of other people have written about how hard startups are. Yeah, they are hard. My company hasn’t run out of cash and I’m sure we have an even harder path ahead of us. That said I’m sick of hearing people use the amount of hours they put in a week as a badge. I’ve done it, but I’m sick of it. You worked 80 hours this week? Congratulations, you work a lot. So do the guys on Wall Street.
A good number of people act like their startup is work, as if it’s some kind of backbreaking labor. Sitting at a computer building things and interacting with people really isn’t half bad. You know what backbreaking labor is? Working for people you don’t respect, building subpar products, and “doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort.”
While doing a startup is about working your face off, it’s about a lot more than that. It’s about building a team of the best people you know and convincing them to work towards a common goal that you know will improve people’s lives to some degree. There’s a whole spectrum of this, too. Improving lives can mean Instagram (e.g. “damn, Instagram made sharing my photos so much easier.”), it can also mean things like the Acumen Fund, or it can meet somewhere in the middle. At the end of the day though, I really feel like I’m getting away with something I shouldn’t be doing right now. Maybe it is work, but it’s damn good work.
Doing a startup is about being upset about something in the world around you and deciding you have to fix it and now. That option is actually available. Wow.