People keep score in different ways. Even different games keep score differently. Tennis isn’t like basketball. Rugby isn’t like Football. In business, most people look at the scoreboard in terms of money. Since I grew up in the trading world, it was all about the money. Traders made and lost money and that’s how we kept score. Making a bunch meant you were right. Losing money meant you were wrong. It was pretty simple.
Different traders did different things with their money. Some saved it. Some blew it on fancy cars. Some of it went up their nose. Wild trips, big houses…things. You get the picture. It’s easy to satirize the trader life. “Greed is good.”. However, as traders money wasn’t real. It was just a scoreboard. A golf score. You could always make more tomorrow.
Entrepreneurs sometimes are about the money. I am seeing more of it especially since the movie The Social Network came out. People build apps that they think they can flip for millions of dollars. That’s no different than trading. It’s why a lot of apps fail. The app isn’t built to satisfy a pain point, it’s built to make money for its founders.
No one wants to give you money.
There is sort of a fine line. Entrepreneurs find pain points. They create solutions to them. The market rewards them with money. But, do the entrepreneurs find more joy from the money, or solving the pain point? It’s a dangerous line to tread on mentally. Keeping score and finding joy in money has killed many of my friends. I know quite a few of them today that spend hours locked up in a dark room by themselves because they can’t make money anymore. I fear for them.
To center yourself, you have to reframe why you do what you do. My wife alerted me to this comment at the AVC blog, and I think a lot of it makes sense. I paraphrased it:
Why do we do anything? Who really knows?
This I know —
When I am alone in my own head with my hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities wrestling — three falls to each and then the winner and if I don’t like the winner, then a rematch — I cannot remember anything more joyous than floating in the ocean where the water is way over my head or body surfing.
The feel of the salt and sun on my skin is the same whether I am broke or flush.
I know, I have been both.
Do you think Bill Gates feels better than me? I don’t think so. It is not possible. Is there more joy available?
I am waiting to see what she accomplishes because it is going to be way more than I ever imagined and I have a wild, untamed imagination.
But I also see the impatience of both youthful exuberance and the insanity of entrepreneurship.
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