First of all, she said yes.
Just before Valentine's Day, I reached out to a big group of entrepreneurs. I offered them the chance to thank their significant others in my column publicly, for putting up with all the crap they put their significant others through.
You know what I'm talking about, right? It's a special kind of dedication and love that it takes to be with an entrepreneur or a future entrepreneur. You've got all kinds of great qualities, I'm sure, but sometimes the same things that can make people successful as entrepreneurs can make them a little bit hard to live with in other contexts.
All of which brings us to Jacques Bastien, a fairly recent college graduate who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in 2000. While studying at the University of Albany, he started a social-media agency called Boogie, but more important, as it turned out, he met Dahcia Lyons, a fellow student. She worked with him as a writer at first, before quitting her full-time job after graduation to become the company's vice president of strategy.
The two started dating, and when Bastien replied to my query about thanking loved ones, he asked if he could use my column to ask her to marry him. He spent a week pulling pieces together to make popping the question a big event, and the article itself was part of the proposal. (In case you skipped past the first line of this column, she said yes.) Given what they do for a living, I suppose, Bastien then put together a video presentation of the whole event, which you can watch here.
I honestly don't know Bastien and Lyons well, except for having worked with them on this proposal. However, I have interviewed many, many really successful entrepreneurs over the past several years. Our in-depth conversations often go far beyond business and into the realm of how entrepreneurs try to find true love and ultimate happiness. I think there are at least five keys that I've heard over and over:
1. Find someone who shares your passion.
They don't have to be passionate about the exact same thing that you are, but it's helpful if they're at least passionate about something. Certainly, it's hard to find anyone else who is quite as dedicated to what you're building as you are, but you probably want to be with somebody who at least thinks it's a good idea. Like Bastien and Lyons, of course, there are many examples of romantic couples successfully running businesses together. Look no further than my colleagues at Inc.com, Dave and Carrie Kerpen.
2. Find someone who shares your values.
Most entrepreneurs, whether they articulate it or not, recognize that there are only three kinds of resources in this world--time, money, and people. The most limited of these is time. You can't get a minute back, and that's why so many entrepreneurs are obsessed with finding the best possible use of their days. It's really hard to do that if you're not with someone who shares your value judgments about just what is worthwhile.
3. Find someone who believes in you.
There is always somebody who wants to tell you that your goal can't be accomplished and your dreams are too big. (Sometimes, that person is you.) The one person it can't be, however, is your significant other. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur and enjoy the ride, you need to be with someone who is convinced you have what it takes to prevail.
4. Find someone who admires your sacrifices.
You make sacrifices as an entrepreneur, but more than that, you're constantly asking your significant other and everyone else in your life to do so, too. That's basically impossible to sustain long term if the people you love don't support those goals. Either you'll have to scale back (which makes it less likely you'll succeed as an entrepreneur) or the relationship probably won't work out.
5. Find someone who accepts your chaotic mind.
Bear with me on this one; it works. Writer Dahlia Lithwick came up with a tongue-in-cheek but spot-on theory about compatibility. Her idea is that everyone in the world identifies as either a Chaos Muppet (think Cookie Monster, Ernie, or Grover) or an Order Muppet (think Kermit, Bert, or Scooter), and that for a happy relationship, you need to pair Order and Chaos Muppets together.
Let me save you the self-reflection. Chances are, if you're an entrepreneur, you're a Chaos Muppet--and you need an Order Muppet who celebrates your craziness.
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