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What the hell am I doing in a startup at my age?

I started my first company at the tender age of 39.

I caught the startup bug late and took my lumps adjusting to startup life after more than a decade in big companies, where my entrepreneurial inclinations were frowned upon.

I developed my fair share of scar tissue. And… there’s no silver lining here. I thought, naively, that if you build a great product, they will come.

Field of Dreams is a great movie. In real life though, users don’t materialize out of that cornfield to play a ball game for the ages. And they don’t download your app or tell their friends about it just because you thought they would love your great idea.

Because business plans — even those written on a Lean Canvas — never survive first contact with the customer.

So, back to my original question — what the hell am I doing in a startup at my age?

I’m learning. I’m adapting. These are also synonymous with struggling. I’m fighting — to stay current with a technology-driven world that’s evolving at a ballistic pace.

I’m also embracing what I’ve learned while working at great companies — because the fundamental lessons of leadership and great management are universal, whether you learn them in a big company or a startup.

In a world that reifies entrepreneurs, I’m still trying to prove myself. To myself.

And to that VP of Human Resources at a big company, who thought my foray into the startup world was a sign of bad judgment.

Yeah, I get it. You want the candidate who bats 1.000 and never made a mistake.

But that’s not who I am. And that’s not how I chose to play the game.

I’m still figuring out how to navigate this unconventional path I’ve chosen. And I’m still learning how to appreciate the journey.


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