My main focus right now business wise is a tech company I started in 2013 called Carrot. It’s software helps small businesses (in particular real estate investors) generate more traffic and leads online better.
Since this is my first “tech startup”… I’ve been learning a lot about growing a company like this, increasing sales, driving traffic, building a team, building a company culture, and how to fit that all into still living a great life away from work.
In the past couple years as I’ve been learning more and more about the “startup” world… I got kinda brainwashed into what I now realize is a *twisted* version of what the “good life” should be.
If you watched the movie The Social Network or read tech / startup websites like Mashable and Techcrunch… you see a bunch of young, hard charging, caffeine fueled, sleep deprived entrepreneurs proud as heck of their 20 hour work days… no life outside of their company… and celebrations on their next round of venture capital funding.
What kind of twisted version of success is this???
That’s something I started to wonder in mid 2013.
Maybe it’s that I now have 2 kids and I’m past that phase. Not sure. But I think that mindset is far too rampant on entrepreneurs of all ages.
One thing I’ve started to notice lately, mostly through social media, is entrepreneurs (including real estate investors) posting how proud they are to be working (“hustling”) Sunday night at 10pm… or Saturday morning… or at 2am… apparently to show how committed they are to their “success”.
Heck, I used to be one of those guys.
Still am to a small degree at times.
Posting on a Saturday morning, sitting in a Starbucks “If you’re not working, you’re falling behind!”
Or watching Shark Tank (which I LOVE that show by the way) and hearing Mark Cuban (who I also LOVE) say, “I want my entrepreneurs I invest in to be so commited you’re working 24/7 to succeed… and I want your business to be more important than even your marriage”.
He’s actually said those words (I paraphrased them from what I remember) more than once on Shark Tank.
And I’m sure without that mindset he wouldn’t be where he is today.
I guess I’d have to ask Mark right back… as a father and husband… are his companies and his business success more important to him than his wife and kids?
I’d be curious to hear his answer.
A Better Version of Success…
Again, I’m a reformed “Work your ass off or fall behind” guy.
I’m not saying hard work isn’t necessary.
It ABSOLUTELY IS if you want to succeed in anything.
Creating a thriving and passionate marriage (with the same person your whole life) is HARD WORK.
Raising kids so they are kind, fun, smart, passionate, and make an impact is HARD WORK.
Starting a successful company when all odds are against us as entrepreneurs… in less than ideal circumstances… with little to no resources… and just our determination and passion is HARD WORK.
But life isn’t just about “succeeding” in business at all costs.
Life isn’t meant to be about sacrificing LIVING today in exchange for some “better” version of LIVING tomorrow.
I didn’t say it’s not about sacrificing things (sacrifice the fat in your life that doesn’t lead to fulfillment… your TV time, some sleep, browsing the web, time on Facebook, hanging out with people who drag you down, stopping some projects so you can focus on the most important project, etc.)… while still retaining what makes you truly feel ALIVE in and outside of work.
Here’s quote I absolutely LOVE that sums it up nicely.
“If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right. That quote made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?. And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something” – Steve Jobs
So next time you see some story of a “successful” entrepreneur saying the secret to their success is sacrificing everything else for the goal… or that you have to live your whole life for the “success of the company”… or “you can only get ahead by working long hours and working when your competition isn’t”…
… just realize that life isn’t about success.
Life, at the end… when it’s all said and done… boils down to…
… whether you lived a life that mattered to the world,
… the relationships you had and love you put out to the world
… whether you *really* LIVED life to it’s fullest
Those entrepreneurs I talked about before who from the outside are the epitome of success…
… the guy who just locked up $5 million in funding from a big VC firm.
… the kid working 20 hour days, sleeping at his office, thinking about nothing but the next move with the company
… knowing what I now know about life (at least up to this point in my life)…
… odds are those guys deep down aren’t really living.
Again, I was that guy.
Every conversation I had with people (even family) always revolved around business in some way because it was my IDENTITY.
I didn’t know how to live outside of business.
And what I’m finding now is that the sweetest parts of life ARE OUTSIDE OF BUSINESS.
But if you grow your business the right way… it can help you live a better life and impact even more people than if you didn’t start that business.
Challenge and Question The Standard Vision Of Success
Yes, work hard and smart upfront to create the life you want.
If you don’t, no one will for you.
But, don’t think that sacrificing your time with family, time for yourself, and time to truly LIVE are healthy long-term goals as an entrepreneur.
Because if tomorrow is your last day here on earth… would you be happy with what you’re about to do today?
I can honestly say I had too many days in 2013 that my answer was “no”.
What about you?
Throw your answer to that question for yourself in the comments below.