Philosophy and Life Pearls

You don't want to be Instagram

Everyone doing startups wants to be Instagram. They want to win the lottery, the tech lottery. But do you really? In fact, you don't.

Michael Norton has a great TED talk. He begins with a story that CNN covered: people who won the lottery do not end up happier.

Very often, they end up dogged by friends and family asking for money. They isolate themselves. They waste it and spend it surprisingly quickly. Yet, many billionaires in companies make money without the same problems. Why?

One reason is that they are not prepared for the lottery money. Working day to day and then suddenly being in a new environment where they have more money than you've ever had to manage is jarring.

They did not earn it, so they are not prepared for it. They did not put in the hours required to understand finance as a businessperson who works decades does. They do not have strong skills in other areas to occupy them once they have more idle time. They did not build strong support networks of family and friends to help them during stressful long hours and years of work.

They did not build up their wealth gradually and manage each stage of growth with expectations of the people they know. They won it all at once and it forcefully created an alien environment.

The same would happen to you if you buy your startup mega-millions ticket and win without having first spent years working on developing your design, tech, UX, marketing, and business skills. You will have overnight success without a compensating feeling of deserving it.

Many successful entrepreneurs try to do it again, feeling that they didn't deserve it. One psychological condition is called Imposter Syndrome, where one does not feel like they are worthy of their success. They agonize over their success, and try to replicate the payout to no avail.

Maybe it is better to win slowly and fail many times first. Experience suggests that will make you happier when you do win.

over 7 years ago on October 21 at 5:41 am by Joseph Perla in life, business


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Howdy, they call me Joseph Perla. I studied western philosophy at Princeton University. I read the Tao te Ching. The state of California licensed me as an EMT. How does one live the good life? Why is the world the way it is? What is learning? What is consciousness?

Twitter: @jperla

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