Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship by JESSICA BRUDER - from INC. Magazine

Image from Inc. 5000

Jessica Bruder, writing in Inc. Magazine, has addressed a much needed topic: the precarious emotional and psychological state of some entrepreneurs.  I see "it" in  the eyes and hear "it" in the whispered conversations of those I meet in the hallways here at Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), a world-class innovation hub that houses over 400 start-ups.  I feel the emotional roller coaster ride myself when the cyclical nature of the recruiting business bumps up against a recession or is impacted by the second and third order effects of the Sequester.

Here are some salient paragraphs from Ms. Bruder's fine article:

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship by JESSICA BRUDER

"Until recently, admitting such sentiments was taboo. Rather than showing vulnerability, business leaders have practiced what social psychiatrists call impression management--also known as "fake it till you make it." Toby Thomas, CEO of EnSite Solutions (No. 188 on the Inc. 500), explains the phenomenon with his favorite analogy: a man riding a lion. "People look at him and think, This guy's really got it together! He's brave!" says Thomas. "And the man riding the lion is thinking, How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?"
Not everyone who walks through darkness makes it out. In January, well-known founder Jody Sherman, 47, of the e-commerce site Ecomom took his own life. His death shook the start-up community. It also reignited a discussion about entrepreneurship and mental health that began two years earlier after the suicide of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the 22-year-old co-founder of Diaspora, a social networking site.
Lately, more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their internal struggles in an attempt to combat the stigma on depression and anxiety that makes it hard for sufferers to seek help. In a deeply personal post called "When Death Feels Like a Good Option," Ben Huh, the CEO of the Cheezburger Network humor websites, wrote about his suicidal thoughts following a failed start-up in 2001. Sean Percival, a former MySpace vice president and co-founder of the children's clothing start-up Wittlebee, penned a piece called "When It's Not All Good, Ask for Help" on his website. "I was to the edge and back a few times this past year with my business and own depression," he wrote. "If you're about to lose it, please contact me." 
Brad Feld, a managing director of the Foundry Group, started blogging in October about his latest episode of depression. The problem wasn't new--the prominent venture capitalist had struggled with mood disorders throughout his adult life--and he didn't expect much of a response. But then came the emails. Hundreds of them. Many were from entrepreneurs who had also wrestled with anxiety and despair. (For more of Feld's thoughts on depression, see his column, "Surviving the Dark Nights of the Soul," in Inc.'s July/August issue.)"If you saw the list of names, it would surprise you a great deal," says Feld. "They are very successful people, very visible, very charismatic-;yet they've struggled with this silently. There's a sense that they can't talk about it, that it's a weakness or a shame or something. They feel like they're hiding, which makes the whole thing worse."
To continue reading the article, click on the link below.  Please send this piece to any entrepreneur you know who may be suffering in silence.  We need to stand together.

Thanks to my friend, Glenn Gaudet, Co-Founder of GaggleAmp, for making me aware of this article.

inc.com - The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

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