Being nuts is my edge

This morning I asked Mika to find me an inspirational post about being a startup founder. She referred me to The Story of My Addiction by Sunil Rajaraman. Sunil shares his personal, 9-year journey as the founder of Scripted.

It is a great, naked read if you’ve ever wondered how hard it is to build a tech company from scratch. It’s all in there … the big idea that flopped … the moments of crushing self-doubt … the brush with bankruptcy … the toll on his health and personal life.

One paragraph in particular resonated with me:

Very few CEOs I know are totally “normal.” Most are obsessive-compulsive . A CEO’s energy can be used in either a positive way or in a way that puts us in a very dark, dark place. I’ve seen the dark and the light, and I know most of my friends have too.

Let’s face it — everyone is a bit nuts. We’ve all got our strange obsessions, hangups and irrational fears. Being a founder just amplifies what is already there.

I go through the same highs and lows as every founder. The moments of self-doubt. The imposter syndrome. Elations at small victories. Frustrations when things don’t work out.

Age and experience have helped me get better at dealing with startup highs and lows — mostly because I’m more patient.

Sometimes I wish entrepreneurship was a “normal” career which didn’t make me so nuts.

But I can’t. And wouldn’t want to, because being a bit nuts is my edge.

The blessing and curse of my 3 AM brain

When I get into “startup mode” something happens to my sleeping patterns — I wake up every morning around 3 AM with my mind racing. I don’t know exactly when it happens … I just slowly drift out of sleep and realize I’m thinking about my startup.

Sometimes I’m trying to come up with a solution to a problem. Or a new idea will pop into my head. Or I rethink a customer conversation and wish I had handled it differently.

As you can probably imagine, losing sleep quickly leads to exhaustion and burnout. My worst startup experiences happen when I’m not taking care of myself.

But I wouldn’t turn off my 3 AM brain even if I could because I generate too many good ideas. My brain just seems to work differently at 3 AM — like somebody poured a magical elixir into my ear and created new connections.

So I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too. I’m letting myself wake up at 3 AM and spending a few minutes thinking about whatever is on my mind. I then try to fall back to sleep by listening to audiobooks or I just get up and start working.

Embracing insomnia is a bit nuts

Yes, this is a bit nuts. Normal people try to prevent or cure insomnia — just as I do when I’m not working on a startup.

But I’m not normal. I’m a founder. And being a bit nuts is my edge.


Originally published at ScribbleIQ Blog.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.