Tech Forecast: A Mental Game

If you’re breathing in the tech industry, you’ve heard the rumors that the VC money is drying up and we’re in for interesting times for the next 18–24 months.

This might seem unrelated, but dwelling on the ‘inevitable’ situation of tech startups reminds me of standing on the tee box of the 6th hole of my home course. The dead straight sixth hole seems innocent, but with houses lining the left and a small lake on the right, it was always an intimidating tee shot. So many times I would set up to my ball and say to myself, “Don’t hit it in the water!” And almost like a witch casting a spell, the ball would splash in the drink.

As I matured as a golfer, I learned how mentally intensive the game constantly proved to be. In high school I had the mentality that if I worked the hardest, I would be the best. So year after year, I would make sure I was the first one on the course and the last one to leave. But rarely did I find myself at the top.

One day, one of my best friends, and fiercest rival introduced me to the power of positive thinking. My dad had always taught me ‘you have to believe it before you see it’, but as a teenager, it didn’t register. This time, the advice was coming from a friend, and I was willing to do anything. I started writing by hand “I am a great golfer” or “I am the best putter” over and over, and I would visualize myself playing my best golf. It took a while to recognize results, but by the end of the season, I had won Divisional's, finished 3rd at State, won several tourneys over the summer, and ultimately landed a spot on a Division 1 Golf Team. I was sold on positive thinking.

Ever since, I have remained to believe “what you think about, you bring about.” And this rings true no matter if it’s positive or negative. While pondering the tech situation, I started to wonder if the predicted tech downturn had to do with so many of us looking for the bad news more than the good news. As we sought bad news, we found bad news, and then of course we had to share the bad news with those around us. Then they started the cycle themselves. Before we knew it, what seemed like a distant possibility is becoming reality.

With this tech industry outlook, startup CEOs are getting a bad rap with their relentless optimism that there is no reason to fear. At first I wondered how oblivious could they be. But then I realized, startup CEOs have to be completely optimistic about the future and their company because their livelihood depends on it. It doesn’t help anyone or anything to worry about what-ifs. (I’m not saying you shouldn’t be prepared for rainy days.)

But…what if we all took a lesson out of these crazy CEOs optimistic book and refused to be smitten by doomsday and be positively enthusiastic about the future. We might not be able to change the direction of an entire industry, but we might change our own direction.