Among the swans

If you want a good insight into what being a first time entrepreneur is like, Nassim Taleb gets it spot on in this short passage from his book The Black Swan

(the first book I’ve read in months by the way — when I was at Demos I read about one non-fiction book cover-to-cover per week):

“Many people labor in life under the impression that they are doing something right, yet they may not show solid results for a long time. They need a capacity for continually adjourned gratification to survive a steady diet of peer cruelty without becoming demoralized. They look like idiots to their cousins, they look like idiots to their peers, they need courage to continue. No confirmation comes to them, no validation, no fawning students, No Nobel, no Scnobel. “How was your year?” brings them a small but containable spasm of pain deep inside, since almost all of their years will seem wasted to someone looking at their life from the outside. Then bang, the lumpy event comes that brings the great vindication. Or it may never come.”

It’s been the strangest roller-coaster of a year for me. The emotional ups and downs have been more extreme than anything I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve bounced out of investor meetings, laughed myself silly with the team, surprised myself at how angry I can get and, on one occasion, found myself crying uncontrollably in a pub. I’ve been lucky and had an amazing amount of support from my co-founders, family and friends. I don’t know how people who don’t have that support manage it.

And I still can’t say whether it’s going to work or not. On paper — like any other start-up — the chances of us succeeding are tiny. We’re also trying to do something ridiculously ambitious that nobody has ever tried before. But somehow, I know deep down that we’re going to succeed. Don’t ask me how — I just know.

The funny thing is that now I’ve started, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

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