How I Continue to Overcome My Fear

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.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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