The Dangers of Startups
A bird chirps and I can hear the distant sound of a soft tropical rain. It’s night there even though it’s day here. One person is beginning their day and the other is exhausted.
This is our morning/night meeting and we’re on Skype.
Later on, it’s night on the other side of the world and apparently the mosquitoes are out in droves. And then the bats swoop in with their radar and I can picture the laptop light is probably the only light around. Here it’s afternoon and I’m drinking the second half of a pot of coffee.
At 2AM my time, I wake up for some reason and can see Ashley writing web documents in real time from around the world. The words are appearing and it’s fun to think of work being done all night, but then again I start thinking about work and then I realize that I’m working myself and it’s now 3AM. And then another day begins, but it’s more like it never ended.
As this year ends, I’m looking back at this one as one of the most important of my life. Which I guess is what we think each year, and each year we are right. It’s the year that I stopped kidding myself about having different parts of my life and being a different person to different people. Working a startup, everything is intertwined and deeply personal. The good – it gets you to try to be a whole person. The bad – over exposure, the people closest to you see you without a filter.
The days and nights also blur together. There is no time to talk around a water cooler. There is no water cooler. There is no reason for inefficiency or waste. The work you do is laid bare and always desperately inadequate to your self-imposed deadlines and projects.
But the real danger is that it becomes a journey by yourself. There is no reason to see the people you work with. Co-workers become ethereal voices on Skype, forever somewhere else. And the time that you spend on work is also always a decision. Your friends and family know this. You don’t have to work – you want to work. It’s an equation that you can’t balance.
For some reason when I’m giving Pandora songs ups and downs, I can’t shake the feeling that it starts to know me less and less. It’s kind of like that, the danger is that you know yourself more and the ones closest to you know you better than ever, but you have to create your work and yourself each day and you have to see that work clearly and live with it every day. Because it’s not just yours, it’s you.