yeah, that's a super long-ass headline, i know... it's a personal soundbite from a Stanford BASES E-Challenge panel discussion i participated in earlier tonight over on campus. probably plenty of other people have said something similar previously, but i'll at least claim some original thought.
(note: i've been on blog vacation way too damn long... since before i left for Japan in December really. sometimes if you're not feeling it, you just need to take a break. hopefully i'm back now)
here's my point -- Silicon Valley is WAAAY too infatuated with the ELEGANT IDEALISM of Entrepreneurship (or the GOLLUM GREED of making a shitload of CASH) , rather than the GRITTY REALITY of running a CRAPPY little startup business that will likely GO NOWHERE... which if you've ever been through it, is a tough, painful, low-probability motherfuck of an adventure, aka tragedy. it ain't no merry go round folks (well it is, but not the way you think... probably rollercoaster is a better way to describe it).
now please don't get me wrong.... i'm not here to shit all over your enthusiasm for building a startup. nor am i saying there is anything bad about wanting to make money, or wanting to be your own boss, or to valiantly attempt to defy the odds and create the next Google or whatever.
but i DO hope some of you young-ass whippersnappers get your heads out of your collective asses and get a little more practical about what you're likely to encounter should you decide to do your own startup. and a little more real about what you may face at the end of a rough hand of poker.
to wit: the first time i tried to do my own business, it took 7 years of hard work, below market pay, near bankruptcy (2 or 3 times), broken friendships, damaged relationships, credit card debt up to my ears, ridiculous stress, several missed opportunities for big paydays as a grunt at Microsoft, Intel, Netscape, or Yahoo, all in exchange for a piddly-ass half-million acquisition that barely got me enough cash to put a down payment on a small condo in SF. sure it was a good lesson in learning how to [NOT] run a business, but it was a HARD goddamn lesson. and one i'm pretty sure i never want to repeat. the fact that i still wanted to try and go back out and do another startup AFTER that first effort is prime evidence that i'm either crazy, stupid, or both.
another thing i said tonight is running a startup for the first time is a lot like being a teenager driving a car at high speed -- in fact many high schoolers learning to drive are required to watch a movie about fatal car accidents / drunk driving consequences (WARNING: don't click thru if graphic images disturb you). those movies are sobering in every sense of the word, and they do serve a useful purpose -- to provide negative incentives against doing something stupid that could result in severe harm to you or others.
well most people in venture capital or business school won't tell you this, but first-time entrepreneurs are just as friggin' dangerous as drunk teenagers behind the wheel of a speeding automobile. mostly to themselves, but possibly also to their employees, customers, investors, or family. now every once in awhile, one of them actually manages to make it across the finish line with flying colors... and unfortunately their success may justify VCs throwing their cash away on not just that 1% but also the other 99% who may end up mangled along the side of the road. but that's how it goes -- VC is a hit [and run] business. you just gotta hope you're the Super Model 1% and not the other Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am 99%. Good luck, sucker.
(um dave: wtf does this have to do with your headline dude? hold on buddy, i'm getting there...)
ok, so i have i put the Fear O' God in ya yet? good.
now, if you're still with me at this point, you must be serious about being an entrepreneur. only crazy, ignorant, passionate people would still be reading this, thinking that startups are worth all this hassle.
so when i say "PASSIONATE", what i really mean is PASSIONATE about SOLVING A PROBLEM, and PASSIONATE about BUILDING A GREAT PRODUCT or SOLUTION. it does NOT mean you're infatuated with the idea of being an entrepreneur or a great leader (yeah, bullshit... i know you're still in L-O-V-E LOVE with yourself, but maybe after i've kicked you in the startup balls a few times you'll be less likely to engage in this mental masturbation without a little reality check).
hopefully, being PASSIONATE means you are driven to make someone's life better by understanding their PROBLEM, and perhaps helping create a great SOLUTION to that problem, and possibly even making a buck by actually DELIVERING it to them (... at the cost of $.99 or less, we hope).
ok, enough of this drivel.... get back to work.
BUILD something, dammit.