The Lonely Life of a Startup CEO

Not long ago, I found myself with a rare moment to sit down, light a few candles and read. My reading material was an article written by a CEO on how he finds balance between his personal life and being a productive CEO. An article with information vital to myself, my company and the relationship with the woman I live with and so dearly love.

I often forget one simple fact in business, just because you are a boss does not mean that you are a good one. CEO’s fail regularly, get fired, get other people fired and ultimately end up losing the company they once had. The author starts by talking about waking up at 6AM, a workout until 7:30 AM, followed by 30 minutes of writing in his journal, 30 minutes of meditation and a nice breakfast. I would love to say the absurdity ended there but the pace of his day didn’t change. Hour and a half lunches, daily reflection and 8–9 hours of sleep every night. I wish that I could say at this point in my life I had better control over my emotions but that’s not the case. The range of thoughts and emotions I experienced in response to this went from anger, confusion, frustration and the constant reoccurring thought of who the fuck is this guy to claim he can “fix” the life of a CEO. It sounds more like the life of a retired CEO or what an intern believes this life to be. 9 HOURS A NIGHT?! I haven’t slept 9 hours straight in probably 5 years.

The path I’ve chosen to take is a long and difficult one. I know this because of the people that have taken the same path before me. Steve jobs worked in a grocery store while developing his original product. Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed Microsoft in an Albuquerque New Mexico backroom. Now, I’m not comparing myself to two men who are the pillars of the tech community, just trying to convey how hard they worked. To get from nowhere to somewhere, which is where I am now, took such a large amount of blood, sweat, tears and hustle. My days are overflowing with things that need to be done; emails, phone calls, making sure I’m delegating work properly to my employees.

One problem; where is there any time for my girlfriend? The woman who has had to sit here and watch me gain weight and lose sleep/sanity (tell me one CEO who hasn’t had one, two or all of these issues). She has been there through it all but now it’s Sunday and she wants to do something. Either Harry Potter World at universal studios or going up to the Griffith park observatory, but it’s 9 AM and I’ve already covered every open space in my house with paper work and the last thing I can think about is Harry fucking Potter. So, I try to stop work but really, I’m just pretending because I’m trying to salvage the relationship I have with the woman I love. I’m just trying to have a normal Sunday morning with her, my cat and dog, but then comes the time for me to work again, to tackle the 700 things I’ve been thinking about this morning. Once again, she is willing to cooperate.

I haven’t showered, brushed my teeth or eaten anything besides a banana at 7AM. I went outside once today, it was this morning to take our dog for a walk before he peed all over the house. This used to be something I could do every day, now I’m lucky if I can go once on a weekend. Today, I went. I grabbed my headphones, a jacket & ran out the door. I put on an audio book, because I really don’t have time to read anymore. Then to my joy the headphones are broken. Only one ear is working and I can’t listen to a book with one ear, or I’ll get a migraine.

Before I know it, it’s the evening, so I do the only thing that I can think of to calm the storm that is brewing in our household, a whatever you want/wherever you want “please forgive me” dinner. At least I know my employees have enough work to hold them off until Wednesday. That means I can now focus solely on her but this time together isn’t enough. She wants more and so do I.

Now it’s 1 AM and I finally have time to take a bath and get a few hours of sleep before I wake up and do it all over again. Am I asking too much? Is it impossible to create a company while sustaining a relationship? I don’t have the answer to that question yet, but right now I know I’m doing my best.

I’m trying to build a company that helps others hack happiness. In doing that, I hope not to lose mine.