Startup Life’s Worst Status Symbol

our friends, your family and even strangers will probably give you a pat on the back (or start trying to be your new best friend) when your startup gets its Series A, sells its first product or — fingers crossed — has its IPO. These are some pretty major status symbols in the startup world, but before you even incorporate, you are probably telling everyone that you have stopped sleeping. Sleepless nights are the easiest achievement for early entrepreneurs. And it comes pretty naturally with the endless list of things to be done or worry about.

I am guilty of this myself. Someone asks how much work I can take on for their project and because I am a crazy entrepreneur, I answer, “I can do as much as you need… I don’t sleep much anyway.”

And it’s true. Whether it is work I am actively completing or my mind constantly churning away, I find reason to get my less than the recommended eight hours each night. In a sense, I am proud of myself for the drive, the commitment, the rush of creativity that keeps me burning the candle all night. And while I don’t like puffy eyes and random yawns, they are the outward representations of a status symbol that entrepreneurs the world over appreciate and even strive for. And, I am in good company.

A recent article from Entrepreneur titled How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? talks about some of the most revered entrepreneurs taking pass on sleep:

As a culture, sleep deprivation has increasingly become both a status symbol — not having time to sleep means you must be important — as well as evidence of a strong work ethic. This is especially true in the hyper-productive, ultra-competitive fish bowl that is the entrepreneurial community, where a good night’s sleep is often bastardized as a luxury reserved for the lazy. Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo), Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square), Indra Nooyi (chairman and CEO of PepsiCo), Martha Stewart (chair of Martha Stewart Omnimedia) and Donald Trump (chairman of the Trump Organization) have all said that they average less than six hours of sleep a night.

However, as productive and efficient as we know these individuals to be in their waking hours, there really is no way to condense your necessary amount of sleep by snoozing more efficiently. Likely, all of these hot shots are exhausted. The same article goes on to say that only about 1 percent of the population can actually operate on less than 5 hours a night of sleep.

We never really adapt to these crazy sleep schedules, even though we can train ourselves to get up and begin the day. Our reaction times, decision-making skills and emotional wherewithal become compromised, and we don’t even realize. Sleepless nights are a status symbol that is probably not going away anytime soon, but I know what badge of honor I am most looking forward to wearing… I have done such a good job/finished everything/recognize when I am burnt out that I deserve a full night’s sleep.


TRACY SHANK

I never dreamt of conquering the world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think big! I know that the best things in life happen when we are collaborating, sharing and spending time with others, so I want to combine my love for communication and my zest for taking action and help build a network of people who are also thinking big… and I decided to START HERE.