An Open Letter to “Successful” Entrepreneurs: Stop Teaching New Entrepreneurs How to Kill Themselves

Peter Shankman

If it’s a new year, one thing’s for sure in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: Right now, there are countless “successful” entrepreneurs writing articles, posting videos, and recording podcasts explaining how you too can have their same success, their same life, and their same wealth. All you need to do is what they do, just like they do it.

They’ll use words like “hustle,” hashtags like “#nosleep,” and show footage of them supposedly working long into the night, after those who they believe “don’t want it badly enough” have gone to sleep.

And without fail, every single entrepreneur will tell you that the only way to make it, the only way to become as successful as them, and the only way to rise to the top of the entrepreneurial gene pool, is to do nothing but WORK.

Taking care of yourself? Fuck that. Getting enough sleep? Don’t be a pussy. Going to the gym? Bullshit, get your exercise by closing deals and making money! Eating healthy? Eat your enemies and feast on their failures, while you rule the land!

So… To every single “successful” entrepreneur who feels the need to spout this self-gratifying, and IMMENSELY HARMFUL bullshit, I offer the following:

SHUT. THE FUCK. UP.

Stop telling new entrepreneurs that the only way to make it to the top is to kill themselves.

Stop telling those people who look up to you that the only way to succeed is to never sleep, to work until you pass out, to sacrifice friends, family, and run yourself into the ground to prove your worth.

It’s complete bullshit, and every time you say it, YOU’RE HURTING PEOPLE. You’re hurting the very people who look up to you for advice, who admire you and want to be you, by telling them that they need to put their own well being in danger to have what you have.

Stop hurting people. Just stop it.

Do you REALLY want to help up and coming entrepreneurs like you claim you do? Then stop lying. Stop telling them to sacrifice their health, their families, their lives, and every precious second of their free time.

Tell the truth. Stop romanticizing how you started. You didn’t spend 22 hours a day working. You know how I know this? Because if you did, you’d be fucking dead. You slept. You might have drank more coffee than was good for you, but you knew damn well that if you didn’t take care of yourself first and foremost, then you wouldn’t be able to do anything when it came to your business.

Tell entrepreneurs to take care of themselves. Tell them to get enough sleep. Tell them to get up early and exercise. Tell them to watch how much pizza they’re consuming on a daily basis. Tell them to eat a fucking vegetable on occasion. Tell them to drink more water.

Tell them to take the time to love their family. To take the occasional day off during the week and take their spouse and kids to the amusement park. Tell them that it’s alright to shut off their phone when they go to sleep. In fact, it’s more than alright — Tell them it’s mandatory.

Tell them that if they’re not taking care of themselves, they won’t have a business to run.

I’ve started and successfully sold three companies, most notably Help a Reporter Out. I’ve written five books, four of them best-sellers. I’m on the board of several companies, and I spend the majority of my time traveling around the world, keynoting for companies like Indeed, NASCAR, Saudi Aramco, Huawei, Major League Baseball, Ford, Deloitte, NBC Universal, and hundreds of others. I’m an angel investor and a talking head on most of the major news networks.

BUT: I’m also asleep by 8:30pm almost every night. I’m up at 4am to work out, and I have breakfast with my daughter every day of the week that she’s with me. I quit drinking a few years ago because guess what — like most entrepreneurs, I only have two speeds: “Namaste,” and “I’ll cut a bitch,” and to make sure that I wasn’t driving off a cliff, I needed to choose to take care of myself first. And as I’ve said many times, the number of times I missed out on business deals because I wasn’t out all night or working till 4am? ZERO.

So… To those “successful” entrepreneurs out there, I ask you this: Do you REALLY want to help new entrepreneurs, like your writings, videos, and podcast episodes claim? Then remind them that the longest relationship they’ll ever have isn’t with their “audience, or their startup, nor with their angel investors, or VCs.

The longest relationship any of us will ever have is with OURSELVES. And if we’re not loyal to ourself, if we don’t put self-care on a higher pedestal than anything else in our lives, nothing else in our lives will matter.

How about instead of spouting some bullshit and hashtagging it “#hustle,” we instead be honest and teaching others to start doing the things that will get them where they truly want to be, instead of just into an early grave?

Take care of yourselves.

-Peter Shankman

PS: Like so many others, I run a mastermind group made up of about 150 entrepreneurs around the world. The difference with mine though? If you’re not putting on your own oxygen mask first, you don’t get to stick around.

Peter Shankman

Written by

Host of the Faster Than Normal #ADHD Podcast. Dad, bestselling author, angel investor, marketer, keynote speaker, NASA advisor, HARO Founder. Ironman. Skydiver.

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