I sat contemplating whether or not to write this down but I’m pretty sure typing it is the only way to really sort through it. That, and hopefully it’s a helpful reminder to other founders and also to people on my team as well.
Startups are hard. They’re hard on everyone around you. They’re hard on your friends. They’re hard on your family. They’re hard on your team.
They’re hard on you.
This has been an unbelievable few months at Dwolla.
- We shipped a huge partnership with CME.
- We shipped a huge partnership with BBVA.
- We’re nowhere near done. There’s more on the way.
I’ve spent the last 2 weeks doing back to back meetings with partners, the media, and the team. It’s one of the craziest rides I’ve ever been on and the end result is going to make peoples lives better.
Yesterday, we had an opportunity to speak publicly with the Federal Reserve, Amazon,and Bank of America about realtime and an astonishing thing happened. They agreed with us.
How could this get any better!? I’m proud of that.
As a founder, this is the stuff you always want to share. It’s big, it’s fantastic, and it’s a string of things that I probably couldn’t pull off ever again if I tried. It even follows the vision for why the company was founded in the first place.
On the flip side. I haven’t had real and extended quality time at home in weeks, or longer. I missed trick-or-treating and the costumes. I spent the little time I was at home in the last few weeks either sleeping or frantically preparing to leave. We added a curious new puppy to our family and I’ve done virtually nothing to help.
I haven’t seen my sister in a year. I’ve never met my niece. I haven’t seen my parents in months. My wife and I didn’t take a honeymoon and I’ve had too much going on in my head to even read the e-mails she’s sending me about where we should go. I can’t take or make personal calls because I’m rarely alone and when I am, I seek one thing… Silence…
The last time I got into the office I was too tired to say hello to anyone and went right to my office where I fell asleep on the floor. Prior to that floor I was sleeping on another floor in an airport. Once I awoke the fairly predictable river of coffee flowed quickly into my body so I could function until the next unavoidable crash occurred.
To some of you, this probably sounds all too familiar. This life is hard on you and everyone else just the same.
It’s pretty in the press. In practice… This shit is really hard.
Last night our team was finishing one of the most successful quarters of our lives and by looking at us sitting there together at the end of the night you probably would have thought we all just found out we were getting deported.
We were just tired and for the first time in god knows how long we got to exhale. There was no celebrating, just a collective exhaustion before the next big release is underway and it was clear. Hidden in the far corner of a bar, we couldn’t do anything but make fun of ourselves for being too tired to celebrate.
I wanted so badly to enjoy the time with them, and I was, that I kept everyone up later than I should have just trying to extrapolate every last second of goodness I could from it.
This is reality.
Making this stuff happen takes work. Not a little, not a lot, but life altering amounts of work that everyone around you does.
As I was packing the bags to leave the country for a few days, spending as much time on flights as off…From one hotel to another as usual… I knew before I started packing that I was tired and I sat down for a moment to try and get my head together.
I lost it… I took a picture because it was at this very weird moment I realized it’s just time to go home. Just another Wednesday after long days in a place that isn’t home waiting to go to another place that isn’t home where I’ll do none of the things that I should have gotten done before I got on the last series of flights.
At this point I did something that for work, is normally a terrible idea. I canceled my flight and got a different one to go home.
Ironically. I’ve been ecstatic for this trip. Going to f.ounders is something I look forward to year round. It’s the conference I look forward to at this point in my life. There is nothing that sucks about f.ounders. Nothing.
I’ve been trying to meet Peter Thiel for years and this is one of the few opportunities I’d have to do that. Some of my friends will be there who I only see a few times a year.
But, Peter isn’t an investor and I see my friends from f.ounders more often than I see my parents. That’s out of whack.
I’m bailing at the last second… It’s something I know you don’t do with conferences and I don’t have some death in the family or catastrophic event to justify it.
It’s just time for me to go home for a bit and I know it.
I miss my family. I’m not pulling my weight at home. I’m exhausted. I’ve been on, selling for weeks non stop and there is no shortage of new things to sell… We forget sometimes that this is a fair reason to want to go home and as founders… We constantly justify getting on that flight even we’re running on empty.
Our teams pick up on it and start doing it too. Even when they have enough BD leads and open things which will keep them busy for months… We keep piling it on.
We just get on the plane regardless because we think it’s what we are supposed to do. We don’t want to risk not being invited back to some important event and we’re afraid we’ll upset people by not being present. We somehow believe that we are supposed to trade our time at home(or in the office) whenever asked and not challenge, right? It appears to be the expectation that we’ll just do whatever it takes including burn any relationship we may hold dear internally and externally.
That’s the fallacy we tell ourselves. That it’s just expected of us.
It’s the lie we repeat in our head so that we just keep going (maybe just for fear that if we stop and rest for a moment we won’t be able to get going again). However, it’s complete baloney that the world wants us to do nothing but work. The world doesn’t want that from us. We created that lie ourselves.
I forget that sometimes and get caught up just like everyone else.
- What is expected of us, is to know that we’re breakable like anyone else.
- What is expected of us, is to know our limitations and manage them.
- What is expected of us, is to take care of ourselves and our families.
- What is expected of us, is to take care of what is important.
What is not expected of us, as founders or as team members, is to never turn off or to never stop getting on flights and to never be thoughtful about the effect on ourselves and those around us. If we do that, we burn out and we hurt our teams, families, partners, and companies.
We all need a little reminder sometimes that it’s perfectly ok to just go home. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Anyone who does this type of work for a living and responds negatively to you saying “I’m unable to make it, I miss my family and want+need to spend some time at home” isn’t a friend, partner, or an investor you should want to work with anyway.
I’m bummed to miss f.ounders and I’ve had to miss it in the past when I planned on being there. It’s disappointing, personally and professionally. I openly admit that.
What I’d be more bummed to miss is some much needed time with my family being what probably appears much less exciting from the outside looking in, but to me it is priceless.
I’m fortunate to have people in my life who help me manage the balance when things swing a little too far one way. I’m incredibly thankful for that. I’ve talked to too many people lately who feel trapped on the road. It’s a choice… Not a requirement.
It’s time for me to go home & that’s ok. When it’s time for you to go home… Don’t lie to yourself and convince yourself it’s not ok.
It is… Just, go.