We never talk about it, but fear is the giant elephant in the room. It drives everything.
On the outside, I am an extroverted, sometimes over-the-top cheerleader for my portfolio companies. The Startup Factory (TSF), the accelerator I run, has 31 investments. But I have a secret. I worry. I worry a lot.
At its core, my worry is all about fear. What do I fear?
I am afraid that my investments are bad and I won’t return capital back to my investors. I am afraid that my reputation (whatever that is) will be crap and I won’t be taken seriously. I am afraid that I will have wasted three, four, five years for no gain. Ultimately, I am afraid that I will be a failure. Again.
Why me, you might ask? I have had success. I co-founded MapQuest, served as the president of Rand McNally, and worked as a corporate venture capitalist. Now I operate one of the best seed investment funds in the Southeast.
But I have had real failures as well. In the late 1990s, I spent a year raising investment capital to roll up and combine a handful of map publishing companies that never materialized. I was brought in as an executive (along with a CEO I had worked with before) of a multimillion-dollar software company that was losing millions a year. We got close to rescuing the company before the recession hit us hard. It is a shell of its former self today.
The Startup Factory is on its third iteration.
You want full transparency? I feel like the successes were lucky and that the failures were entirely my fault. I think about it every day. Try carrying that around with you. And I worry.
I’m not the only one, of course. Everyone worries. The difference is I now know how to cope with my own insecurities.
Catch the rest of the article here at INC.com I will share with you my journey from the dark side.