This Isn’t a Comeback Thing

After seven-plus years of roller-coaster ride with Automated Insights, I’ve made a change. And I’m pumped. But it took some doing to get there.

I’ve been living a self-imposed exile over the last few months, cutting myself off from all things startup and writing and community and social like Luke giving the finger to the force. I’ve been working, and just working. Well, I mean, family stuff and drinking and video games, sure, just not all the crap I used to do.

There was no crisis. One day back in October, I looked at everything I had to do and just kind of shook my head and said, “Nah. I’m not doing that today.” The next day, I said the same thing. Within a week, my task list got real short, and much more manageable.

It all started back in May of 2017, when I stepped into a paid advisor role at Automated Insights, a startup that Robbie Allen and I built from a database of college basketball stats into a worldwide force in Natural Language Generation, which we then sold to a private equity firm. Robbie had left the company a couple months earlier, while I was out on the road for a long stretch. When I got back home, everything was different. So I negotiated, and I’m out of the day to day.

But what do you do in that headspace, after seven years of 24-hour days that went really… really well and then immediately taking your foot off the accelerator? Because I mean the first urge is to do it all over again, which I tried to do with Teaching Startup, a series of videos I did with a couple other entrepreneurs. That didn’t fail, but it wasn’t right. So it’s still out there, just in carbonite.

You also need to not go all self-aware crazy, which I kind of did with Teaching Startup. I tried hard to make that project not about me and my beliefs about the startup universe. But I think that’s where it ended up, for better or worse, and ultimately I don’t think that was a mistake.

But it still wasn’t what I wanted. So I shut everything off. For three months. That’s when I found what I needed.

Again, no epiphany. Three months later — after no Twitter, no writing, no speaking, no beers with other entrepreneurs, no investor meetings, no hype — just solid, hard work, incognito, at one thing, I don’t have any mind-bending universal answer for you.

But I’ve got something. I’m back on mission. I’m writing. And I’m starting here.

This is the first time I’ve felt like writing in about a year. In fact, this post could have been 5000 words long. But if I realized anything over the last three months, I realized I’ve got time, that the insane headspace I’d been in for the last seven years didn’t have to be the way things had to be.

This isn’t a comeback thing, because I never left. It’s not a “where-have-I-been” thing, because, come on, no one cares. I’m back building a company and making new tech and breaking stuff. And that’s all going to come out in time. This is just what I needed to write to get back on point.

So stay tuned. There’s a ton more to come.

One thing I’d like to do is Q&A on startup, entrepreneurism, parenting, sports, actually just about anything you might want to know. It all ties together. You can drop me questions, macro or micro, at Twitter via @jproco or at my site at joeprocopio.com. I’ll answer them here and I’ll keep you anonymous unless you tell me otherwise.

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