Photo Courtesy of Nina Ojeda
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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It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.