Our Twisted Vision Of “The Good Life”

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.

entrepreneurial success
Is simply a company that just doesn’t feel like work the end game?

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.

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6 responses to “Our Twisted Vision Of “The Good Life”

  1. The word “sacrifice” is relative to where you are in life. You must determine what you are willing to sacrifice in order to get the result you want. Being a driven entrepreneur it’s easy to be an extremist. In fact, some of us don’t know any other way of doing things. It’s either 0mph or 100. with no in between. The reality is we only have so much energy. We think we can “build Rome in a day” or doing 80 things at once and we don’t stop to think about what we have to give up to do that. We only think about “we can do it” mentality and “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and get to work.

    Ah… that word “work”. What does that really mean anyways? You think going on a vacation with your loved one and “physically” being there, but “mentality” you’re still working really accomplishes anything? The answer is “no”.

    We have to associate ourselves with positive anchors like:
    – Unplugging = getting MORE done
    – Recharging = being SMARTER
    – Giving up Control = Get MORE of it by DELEGATION

    The drive in an entrepreneur isn’t easily harnessed. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to slow him down. We associate “slow down” with being weak. That is one HUGE mindset tweak we have to fix. We associate “stopping” as giving up. Seth Godin challenged in his amazing book The Dip that “we don’t have the courage to quit”.

    The bottom-line is there isn’t a “one size fits all” remedy for entrepreneurs because it’s relative to many factors that got a person to a place of success or helped them on their success journey.

    There are mindset tweaks we can use to re-frame how we view success, freedom, and ultimately our “Big Why” for living life in the first place.

    If we don’t deal with the root cause and only the symptoms of our drive, not understanding “Our Big Why”; the “monster inside of our heads” will continue to lead us.

    Remember… be a servant, (a counter intuitive secret to live a fulfilling life)

    Cory Boatright

    1. Awesome comment Cory!

      You’re 100% correct in “sacrifice” is relative to where you are in your life.

      But, I’d venture to say that across the board… “sacrifice” could also mean the same thing in the end.

      Yes, the actual activities I may be sacrificing if I’m working vs. you may be different (mine prob involve my kids, mountain biking, etc)…

      … BUT, to me a sacrifice is… willingly saying “no” to something in your life that you truly do enjoy… for the sake of something better in your life.

      So in the end, to be “successful” (whatever that means) we’ve all had to sacrifice many things in our lives. Some of the sacrifices are for the better… and some can bite us in the ass.

      Man, LOVE the positive anchors you put. Writing those down.

      Here’s to an epic 2014!

  2. Great thoughts. Any time your view of success doesn’t include living NOW. You are hosed.

    Misquoting some great dude.
    “Every man should form his life so that at some future hour his dreams and reality become one.” Sooner is better than later.

    Also if you haven’t checked out Chris Guillebeau and AONC you should. If nothing else read “A Brief Guide to World Domination”

    1. Thanks Lem! Great quote man. I love it! Ya, I found Chris’ stuff a couple years ago. You should go up to his WDS event in Portland. It’s huge I hear. Haven’t been myself but know a lot of guys who fly across the country to go to it. Here’s to an awesome 2014 man!

  3. Thanks for posting this Trevor. I have been feeling similarly since mid to end of last year. I also have two young kids that humor me when I’m here working at home.
    It’s only just started to sink in that my definition of ‘success’ is like you, having a balanced life, between work, family and play. I used to be a ‘give it all until you collapse’ type of marketer, like you also, but this year I’ve decided to slow it down a notch and spread my energy out so as to enjoy life on a daily basis. Seems we have a few things in common! Hope to keep in touch and all the best for a happy and fruitful 2014!
    Stuart Stirling

    1. Thanks for the comment Stuart!

      Great comment.

      One thing I’ll throw in there… that I’ve learned that a “balanced life” isn’t what we all want at all.

      I guess it’s all in how we envision and define “balanced”… but by the traditional definition… balance means… “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”

      When you think about balance that way… if we try to make all of the elements in our life “balanced” all of the time (keyword all of the time) it doesn’t lead to happiness.

      We need imbalance in our lives to keep it interesting and challenging.

      Hit work hard for a few weeks or months and nail that goal (fulfilling and challenging)… but during that time that focus will pull away from other areas of your life.

      But, then after you have that intense focus period in work… pull back and focus your energy in another aspect of life.

      It’s kind of like a teeter totter… if you keep it perfectly balanced… you’re not going anywhere and it’s no fun. Not challenging at all… not fulfilling. That teeter totter would suck. They call them benches.

      I don’t try to balance life everyday now like I used to… I try to “balance” it over the long term.

      More like a zig zag… but always having a center to come back to.

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