How did you bounce back from failure?

I pretended.

In the old days of Web 1.0, my paper net worth fell from $11,000,000 to $0 over a period of just a few months.

It was devastating. I went from a success to a failure in almost the blink of an eye. Not a total failure — our startup was acquired and is still an important brand even 17 years later. But all those paper gains were gone so quickly, it was almost impossible to process.

So I pretended. I pretended it was tough, but not the end of the world. I pretended it would be even better next time. I got another job, and tried even harder. I doubled down on my commitment. I put on my slacks and shoes every day, with a new chip on my shoulder. I got up earlier and stayed later. I worked more hours, was more committed, was more driven.

And that chip on my shoulder — it fueled me to start 3 startups on my own.

0% chance I would have founded any of them without that failure. I wouldn’t have had the drive. I would have been content. Or at least, content enough.

So perhaps it was all for the best.

But it still stings a little, 17 years later. And it stung a lot for the first 5–7 years. As do several failures since then.

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Published on December 21, 2017

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