As I write this, I've been an entrepreneur for 7 years. Some entrepreneurs say they were born that way. Not me. I was a corporate guy. Happily so. Until I was fired. And then I wasn't a corporate guy any longer.
It was the first time I was completely in control of my destiny. In the first few months I made a whopping $500. My Father-in-law bought me my first laptop. I borrowed money from him to pay my mortgage. My wife supported our family.
Then something amazing happened. The company that had fired me (Buddy Media) were acquired by Salesforce for close to a billion dollars. I had been smart enough to buy my small piece of equity when they kicked me out. I was going to make some money on this deal.
When the check came in the mail, my hands were shaking. I fell to my knees in the foyer of my home and wept like a baby. I swore I would never work for anyone ever again.
I paid back my Father-in-law, and I poured the rest of the money into my agency. We grew over 3,000% that first year.
I appeared on national television. I spoke at conferences. I had no idea how to run a business. People resigned. We kept closing deals. We did some more good work. I would still never see my family.
While this was happening, my Father was dying from ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. I would self medicate with Scotch. I was sad, and the sadness was getting worse.
My team felt it, our clients felt it, and my family felt it.
I obsessed over the pending death of my Father. I couldn't fathom it. He was my north star. My guiding light. He couldn't leave.
Over the course of my first five years as an entrepreneur I visited the Emergency Room three times. Each time I thought I was having a heart attack. I realized later that they were panic attacks. They may have had more to do with my Father's illness, but there I was -- in the E.R., nonetheless.
I've missed payroll, and I've been in dept.
I've closed deals bigger than I've ever fathomed, and I've keynoted events I used to attend.
Entrepreneurship? Complete torture.
It's been horrid.
It's been bliss.
Then it's been horrid again.
And then pure unadulterated, bliss ...
I closed deals for my Dad. I wrote books for my Dad. I appeared on TV for my Dad. I produced four globally recognized events in three years ...for my Dad.
After ever TV appearance he'd be the first person I'd call. I'd get Dwight, his caretaker to hold the phone to his ear. I'd say, "Dad, CNBC, not too shabby!? " He'd light up. Beaming. "Great job Christopher!"
He'd get tired quickly, and have to hang up. It felt good to make him happy. To take his mind off the disease. I wanted to show him I was OK. I wanted to prove to him that I had done it. That I could do it. That I would continue to do it after he was gone. He'd taught me well.
And then he died.
And it broke me.
I knew I had to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. So I swore I would never work myself to exhaustion again.
- I knew I had to take care of my mind and body to be successful.
- I knew that I had to stop drinking during the week.
- I knew that I had to get back into the gym.
- I knew that I needed to wake up earlier.
- I knew that I needed to meditate to keep my head straight.
And so I began the next stage of my entrepreneurial journey.
I decided to do things for me.
- Now I work-out daily.
- Now I don't drink during the week.
- Now I wake up at 5am religiously.
- Now I meditate and I've never felt better.
- Now I see my family.
Sometimes it's gut wrenching, and horrible, and terrifying to be an entrepreneur.
And sometimes it's the most amazing thing.
How has it been for you?