4min readBusiness 19 July 2019
Being an entrepreneur is lonely.
Everyone says it but I don't think I really understood it until last year when I had a scary wake-up call that my body was not going to be able to keep up with the abuse.
I wasn't sleeping, I was putting junk in my body (and then eating kale and shopping at Erewhon like somehow that made it all better), I didn't exercise, I was constantly stressed out and working myself up over things I couldn't control. The list goes on. Sometimes, when we are so passionate about something, we don't see or hear the repeated signals that something is wrong. Starting a company can be like that.
Let me say it louder for the people in the back: starting a company properly, is like that.
I have always said that there is some level of delusion necessary to start a business - and I still think that's true. Embrace it! If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. To be even remotely successful, you have to pour your soul into what you are building and cannot let outside influences dictate your next moves. Frankly, if you were a reasonable person, you wouldn't be doing it at all.
In many ways you are unique but it's super important to remember that you are not alone and you are not the first person to feel this way.
Last year, a series of unfortunate things happened to me that threw me into a tailspin. I shut myself off from the world and isolated. I was suffering from what a dear friend of mine calls, "terminal uniqueness." I was absolutely certain that I was the only one going through what I was going through and nobody could ever possibly understand. It's funny how human beings can do that, and it's even easier when the issue is something that is seen as a weakness. To be honest I even had a little zing of fear posting this because it would be admitting to the world that last year was really hard. But here's the thing, humans are amazing, resilient beings and asking for help is one of the strongest things we can do. One of my personal heroes, Sophia Amoruso, is a perfect example of a successful, resilient entrepreneur. Her "failure" at Nasty Gal brought her to the mega success that is Girlboss.
Social media may have a lot of down sides but the biggest upside is watching some amazing founders tell the truth. Maybe that is a post for another time. I know it helped me get out of my head and realize that my situation was really not that bad - and truly not that unique.
I bet, right now, you are thinking about a situation or feeling where you believe you're the only one who feels that way. I promise that whatever it is you aren't. You probably don't believe me, but that's okay, I will prove it. No matter what it is, mental illness, physical pain, tragic loss, major mistake, god forbid you are human, there is a way out and someone has done it before.
When we're ready, if we pay attention, there are people who are talking about what we are going through, almost exactly. We live in 2019, where there are literally instagram pages, podcasts, blogs and more dedicated to the things we're going through right now.
I just started recording a podcast called, The Truth Is…, to start talking about this more specifically. No question, problem or scenario is too stupid, taboo or untouchable so feel free to comment or email me with any questions. I will do my best to answer and if I can't, I promise to direct you to a resource or person who can. In the meantime, I wanted to share some books that cover a variety of subjects that we don't talk about enough as women or otherwise. Hopefully one of these will help take some your blinders off.
You got this. We got you.
Brené Brown is one of my personal heroes. Like Sophia Amoruso, she talks a lot about the mistakes she has made both privately and publicly. She has dedicated her life to studying shame - in fact, you should watch her Netflix special about it! - and has written a ton of thoughtful books on the subject. In 2019 (much after this book was published) the need for showing public perfection on social media is at an all-time high. I highly recommend this one - and frankly, every one of her books. Pro tip: get the audible version if she is the narrator herself.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz
This is my all time favorite book about business ownership. I read it once a year at least. Ben Horowitz is a visionary and writes honestly about starting a business. If you have ever wanted to start a company, read this book first.
Almost 10% of natal-born women suffer from this invisible but debilitatingly painful disease. Invisible physical pain can play a massive role in your day-to-day life and even more frustratingly so, in your work balance. Especially when it arrives once a month.
My friend Michael recently published this book about his experience with his addiction and entrepreneurship. While his addictions are specific (gambling & cocaine), the book is honest and in its entirety talk about many of the feelings that plague all business owners. Anyone will take away something solid from this book. Highly recommend.
Mel Robbins talks a lot about how her life was falling apart before she started this book and came up with her 5 second rule. Sometimes it's helpful to hear how far someone went down one direction before they decided to turn around. No matter how far you go one way, you can ALWAYS go another. Remember that.
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3 Min Read
The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!
Help! I Might Get Fired!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?
- Restless & Jobless
Dear Restless & Jobless,
I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.
This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."
Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!
- The Armchair Psychologist
HELP! AM I A FRAUD?
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.
I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."
Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.
- The Armchair Psychologist