Startup friends: stop the sob stories, please

I’m sorry, guys. This is a rant.

I am tired of hearing about how hard starting and running a company is. I’m tired of hearing first about the psychological toll and then about the glory of building a business.

Want to know what psychological toll really is? Raising two kids on minimum wage in the Bay Area. How do I know this? I talked to the contractors who did work on my house. And what do those guys not do? Write on Medium about how hard it is to be a contract laborer.

Those founders who simultaneously bemoan and glorify startup life seem to have lost perspective on the fact that they’re paid very well to have the opportunity to get a windfall of 20 years or more of their salary. We live in privileged times. I can afford to not only own a house but also get work done on it because I’ve been compensated very well for founding a company that has yet to turn a profit. I’m not sorry for this; I work hard, I try every day to create value for my company, and the market pays me what the market pays. However, please call me out if I ever start feeling sorry for myself. I refuse to join the chorus of founders doing the equivalent of calling themselves fat so their friends can tell them how good they look.

I founded a writing company, so you know I love a good story. The first rule in capturing the audience is good character development. I need to empathize, friends. This is the founder protagonist I’d much prefer reading about:

  • Smart, curious, idolizes her parents and famous inventors
  • Recognizes the power of the Web and PC, and focuses her attention on building things with these tools
  • Stumbles on a problem that the market values enough to pay for, gains traction and outside investment, perhaps without meaning to
  • Spends long days and nights with her growing team, and then BOOM!
  • Market conditions change, investors turn on her: even longer days and nights, and yes, psychological toll!
  • Trims team, pivots model, cries, but recognizes this most people never get this chance
  • Then, she gets an offer and sells her company!
  • Everyone lives happily ever after.

This is my hero founder. She hit turbulence and pushed through. These characters I’m reading about on BART every day quickly become so narcissistic that I stop caring. Friends, don’t lose me! Show some humility. Recognize that not everyone is so lucky to go without a salary, live in one of the greatest cities in the world, and attempt to build an enterprise.

If you’re a founder and you’re struggling, I don’t feel sorry for you. Sorry, not sorry. Cry to your mom, not to me. Tell me when you’re back onto milking this opportunity for everything it’s worth. I’ll read that post with gusto.

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