Dear Millennials: So you want to do a startup.
Response to an essay shared by Disrupted author Dan Lyons, saying startup culture was “killing real entrepreneurship.”
Dear Millennials: I’ve had two IPOs to your none. One of them was Splunk. Google up a chart from 2014, I’ll wait. I hate doing that, but see now you’re listening.
Can you feel that thing in your brain telling you to tune out because I’m too old to get it, that 2014 doesn’t count now, that you’re different and special and smarter than everyone else and just know you’re going to change the world and be rich and famous? Yeah, it kind of came across when you pitched me to write about your startup, promising it would be a big story for me.
One or two of you will be right. Everyone else, I won’t tell you not to do it, anymore than I would tell someone not to move to Hollywood and try to make it as an actor. The girl at the next desk in my high school French class in a Maine mill town did it. You never know.
But as Dan’s book hilariously exposes, be aware a bunch of Olds will try to play on your hopes and dreams to make themselves richer — themselves, not you. Age and guile beat youth, innocence and a SnapChat account. Paul Graham’s cool, right? Heed him: Investors can and will lie to you. They’re in it for themselves. You’re expendable. Never forget that.
If it doesn’t work out the way you’ve planned, remember your own words: Pivot. By which I mean, try again. And if you don’t end up as the next Zuckerberg (for better and worse), being a super-competent middle manager or specialist or freelancer or yoga teacher or whatever will eventually have an appeal you don’t understand now. It’s not failure. It’s not mediocrity. It’s why we have a working civilization. You will be an important part of that. And maybe a great parent, too — one not saddled with regret that they never took the risk of trying to make it with a startup.
I’m all for young people chasing their dreams. I did. I still do — I’ve got a meeting this afternoon to do something at which I’ve no experience. No regrets. Jeff Bezos says that’s what drove him to quit a stellar career in finance to sell books online. Others patiently detailed to him why it was a money-losing idea. It was. He did it anyway. Jeff calls his choice“Regret minimization.”
So go for it. Try and try again. Be full of yourself! I was. Great experience and great fun for me, if not for my girlfriends.
Are you bad for innovation? Are you another Theranos in the making? Christ, look at the grownups wring their hands. old age sticks up keep off signs. Google that, too.