One year ago something amazing happened. Eligible, the company I founded with only $5,000 in the bank three years before, began to take off. It should have been the most exciting time of my life, but for some reason it wasn’t. I couldn’t figure out the problem — was I just in shock that Eligible had built something people wanted? Was I scared the growth would end? (which it still hasn’t!!) Now, a year later I can look back and I have finally figured it out: I was almost dead.
“Creating a compelling new technology is so much harder than you think it will be that you’re almost dead when you get to the other shore.” — Steve Jobs
Actually I’m pretty sure I was dead. Not the company — the company could not have been more perfectly aligned with the vision I had sought out to create. It was a machine of its own and it was growing much bigger than ourselves.
It was personal, I had sacrificed everything I had, there was nothing left.
Miraculously, for the past year, I have been brought back to life. Interestingly no person or decision has brought on this change. I’ve made no personal proclamations of “I’ll work less this year” or “I won’t go on social media for a few months”. My daily routine has not changed at all.
Well I made one small change, but it wasn’t drastic. Throughout the whole year (including weekends) I took 10–15 days off. This may sound ridiculous but it was a lot more than in my prior start up years. I spent one night at a wedding with my best friends I had not seen in six years. I spent one night with my grandma who I hadn’t seen in five. I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving day with my family, saw a Broadway show a movie, a baseball game and had some dinners with my fiance’s family, and stayed up one night debating with my amazing Uncles. But that’s about it. Other than that the year was spent like all my other start up years, working 100+ hours every single week.
So how is it that one year later I feel alive again instead of almost dead?
The same thing that almost killed me brought me back to life.
Over the last 12 months everything has changed at our company. Velocity has taken over and we are now running down a hill instead of climbing up a mountain. It’s clear now that what we have been fighting to build is something a LOT of people want AND are willing to pay for. We are still so lean that we already know we’re a profitable sustainable company who gets to go on building services for as long as we wish, with the people we respect and admire, for the industry we want to help.
What’s the point of this post? I am not sure. I personally learn the most by listening to other peoples stories, I don’t usually get much out of “advice posts”, but in a story I can almost always find something to apply to myself. Thanks for reading.