“Deep, deep uncertainty. Every minute of every day,” David Tisch answered.
Instead of responding to the young founder and investor I stared at him blankly. How does the Co-Founder of Techstars, Managing Partner of The Box Group, and Co-Founder of Spring suffer from uncertainty?
He continued: “No one is telling you what to do. So every single piece of it is ripe with insecurity and your job as a founder is to fight all of that.
It’s all about fighting insecurity because you’re early. You haven’t hit some hockey stick. It’s not all organically working. You have to make huge decisions and bets on a daily basis without any real information about what you are supposed to do.”
I had just asked David what it was really like to start a tech company. While I knew he wouldn’t have all the answers I was confident that he’d have most of them.
David’s honesty made our conversation one of the best interviews I’ve ever conducted. His candidness lifted the shame I associated with not knowing the answers. I even walked away feeling empowered by the relieving togetherness that other founders are facing the same fears that I do.
Networking was one of David’s biggest professional challenges and his response about how he overcame it motivates me each time I begin a new project.
I had to not just do it. I had to be great at it. When you step into one of these positions, you have to be aware that it’s a challenge, but you also have to try to win.
That being said, we’re excited to close our guest blog series with Brittany, Julie, Mike, and Aaron sharing how they play to win as startup founders.
Entrepreneurship has been the most exhilarating, rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also been by far the most challenging. Sometimes running a startup feels a bit like you’re on some kind of reality show with hidden cameras where you’re faced with totally unpredictable obstacles and expected to handle them perfectly…on the spot…in front of an audience. There are incredible highs and incredible lows, and it’s very hard to explain them to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. One of the perks of having a co-founder is having someone to experience the journey. ZinePak wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Kim by my side! There will always be uncertainty in young companies, but as long as you’re guided by your vision and principles, and as long as you evaluate each decision through that lens, it’s relatively easy to make a decision quickly and move on to the next 20 things that require your attention!
Following through on a killer idea means saying no to all the noise. I’ve seen successful leaders say nope to fears and anxieties, sorry to other excellent ideas, and no to wasting time with lesser pursuits. For example, I have to say no to binge watching Agents of SHIELD every night when I could be working on side hustles instead. You have to say no to the first version of your design, and no no no to the people who tell you no. All these NOs are incredibly annoying. But they’re necessary if you ever want to get to OH HELL YES.
Tough question to answer directly, but what I’ve noticed is the mentality of relentlessness. It doesn’t come natural to 99% of people because it will kill you or push you through the uncertainty to the other side of success. Writing and talking to mentors is great way to start to develop the confidence in your idea and your ability to make it happen.
I’m not sure I’m a tech entrepreneur per se. I think when you have a gut feeling that your idea or concept is something new and also something that is positive in the world, you’re more willing to take major risks.
If you missed last week’s post on how to beat adversity tune in drive sales and viewership tune in here.