Three Jedi Mind Tricks Against The Entrepreneurial Struggle

How to Stay Sane as a First-Time Founder When Things Go Wrong

Feliks Eyser

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Yoda. He’s always calm, clear, and powerful. I love Star Wars. Illustration by Feliks Eyser

Sunglasses

So, we had just closed our first round of funding when my key employee quits. I had sold the investors on that employee's skills, and everything was horrible. I felt like a faker, and our company would never work despite the funding! That night I slowly walked to the bus with my head down and spirit even lower. I felt numb and hurt. But we found a replacement within weeks, and nobody really cared.

Three years later, I am at this conference in Manila, and we go to a bar. Those Philipinos can drink, I tell you! I had just bought new sunglasses, put them in a bag and leave it in a corner. The next hangover morning, I wake up smelling like gin and tonic receive two bad news. My COO tells me the replacement employee (who was now even more key!) had just quit. Also, somehow, I had forgotten my bag and new sunglasses at the bar.

I was really pissed. How could I be so stupid to lose my new sunglasses? I didn’t think much about the employee quitting. It all seemed like ‘just another one of those.’ Having been through the experience, I realized it was fixable.

Somehow it seems like the mind particularly freaks out the first time something bad happens. I now consider that a vaccine against future mental blow-ups. It’s better to get it early when the stakes are low.

Salad

Some months later, it’s that time of year when we run out of VC money (again!). The future is unclear. The cash balance is getting lower by the day, and so is my self-esteem. I feel agitated and thin-skinned. What I have to do is very clear. a) Work my ass off to secure funding and b) prepare for “plan b” to cut costs.

So we put together “the list.” It contains names and salaries of employees and potentially a red “X.” The horror! I feel like Harry Potter when he meets the Dementors. Finally, they will realize that it’s all a big fraud, and I’m a failure. My sandcastle is crumbling, and sadly, it’s the only place my mind occupies.

So my head is spinning, and I call my friend. He’s this big-shot entrepreneur. Maybe he’s 20 years older than me…

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Feliks Eyser

Tech founder & investor from 🇩🇪. Sharing experiences for first-time founders💡🛠🚀