I arrived in Silicon Valley for the first time in 2006 when trying to raise money for a social travel startup that my partner and I bootstrapped from my graduate school apartment in Tallahassee, FL. We had decided to pack up and head to the "motherland" to try to raise money and recruit engineers. I remember trying to find engineers to work on equity cause we had no money and VCs at the time were not buying our argument.
Since those days we have both learned a heck of a lot and have both gone through success acquisitions; he was at Mint.com that sold to Intuit and myself at MoPub which sold to Twitter.
For as long as I could remember, I have been obsessed with entrepreneurship and startups. Over the last 12 years, I can't recall a day that has gone by that I have not at least thought about this topic. However, what I have also learned is that no matter how much "success" you seem to have, it's never enough.
For me I've always had some startup idea to dive head first into and kinda ignore the other aspects of life. What's crazy is that I never really understood the power of having a balanced life. And that life really is...well, has to be bigger than just business. I began to truly understand this after my startup Feedgen went under in 2011.
After so much excitement, having gone through the Angelpad incubator and making so many great contacts; we failed. And what was even worse was I woke up to a life that had been dominated by an obsession with startups, and was now questioning it all; it was a scary place to be. I had realized that there had to be more than just building startups and that business was so incredibly risky and volatile that there was no way that I could derive total happiness from it alone.
Since I had that epiphany I wake every day reminding myself to pursue a balanced life. I began doing things like riding my bike through the beautiful roads of Marin County, CA and becoming more aware of nature. I started to read books about Buddhism and doing more yoga. And I think that the most important thing that I began to focus on was that life was bigger than business and that I was not defined by business success or what I did. And although I literally have to remind myself of this on a daily basis, the awareness of it and the option to choose is very empowering.
Now don't get me wrong, I struggle with my ego, insecurities, and mistakes; I can assure you that I have a lot of the above. But what I also have is the awareness to work through these things and find resolve. Happiness and balance is a daily practice. You don't just achieve it once and you're done. It takes work, time, and dedication to the process.
We are not defined by only one part of our lives. We are the sum of our parts and experiences. As entrepreneurs we can still be passionate and inspired by what we create, it's kinda how we are wired anyways, but we must also remember that life is bigger than business. Find a balance, be more than just your venture/s, and perhaps you'll find success?