Dead Man Dancing

What a great story: Dead Man Dancing (by Matt Trossen)

He talks about his company facing financial crisis from the lens of a fully committed founder.

I have found myself on occasion staring into the unknown, wondering if I had made catastrophic decisions. Wondering if I had simply made a string of wrong decisions at various points that have had cumulative negative effect. And wondering if I was on exactly the right course, and just needed to keep going. When you’re a founder or leading a startup in some capacity, those around you often cannot give you good feedback, and those that can, often know you have to go through the tough episodes yourself.

I like how Matt points out that he isn’t romantacizing. I concur completely. When we spell out these thoughts — to ourselves or to others — they come out sounding like the romantic adventure of a hero. And that is not the intention, nor the meaning, at all. Dealing with danger is part of the ‘right stuff’ that ultimately makes an entrepreneur. I think a lot of this is not natural — or if it is for some, they are gifted with a beneficial bias, not a perfected mindset. The mindset has to be shaped over the years. The thing is, as with successful people in all walks of life, they often shield the world from their own hardship. Out of modesty…as in not wanting to talk about themselves, or the opposite…out of calculated persuasive benefit (so they do indeed look heroic to others). Or out of pain…as with other painful experiences in life, sometimes they just are not fun to discuss, during or after the experience.

This type of subject matter is also why I like Paul Graham’s writings so much. He does a good job articulating subject matter about founding companies in a very personal and nuanced way. Just recently, he posted an article that specifically mentioned how many founders are not only ‘hackers,’ they are gun shy, timid, unsure, and processing enormous emotional stress to move forward.

Quote: “What investors still don’t get is how clueless and tentative great founders can seem at the very beginning.”

This is in high contrast to the gung-ho portrayal of founders generally. Some emerge that way, but they don’t start that way.

Whether or not company founders achieve their ultimate dreams and end up with fistfuls of cash, I do think founders of companies are perhaps one of the greatest subset of the population in terms of self awareness, contemplation, and reflection. They gain these rewards because they are often forced to suffer one way or another, within the framework of a very productive endeavor.


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