As the year winds to a close, I'm sure our news feeds will explode with the usual flurry of best and worst lists of just about everything imaginable - including a wide variety of lists profiling the year's most successful businesses and who to watch in the coming year.
But have you ever wondered what successful entrepreneurs think of their own achievements, what advice they'd give to those who are still pursuing success?
I asked this question to three entrepreneurs who are considered a success within their own industries: Knowing what you know now about the road to success and the price paid - physically, mentally, emotionally, financially - what advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are still pursuing success?
Jared Tarbell: Cofounder, Etsy
I first met Jared when he spoke at one of our city's first Startup Weekend events several years ago. He arrived with his family in tow, and he made it clear from that first meeting that, for him, family came first. Over the years, we've had several opportunities to talk about the significant challenges of getting a tech startup off the ground. He talks about the brutal lifestyle he endured while architecting the technical engine that now powers Etsy's online marketplace for makers and artists with more than 54 million users. After an IPO in 2015, the company's valuation soared to over $3.5 Billion. Jared's advice:
"I have been quoted as saying "Running a startup is incredibly hard and you have to sacrifice your relationships and health".
While I don't believe I actually said this - and I do not think it is true - it is what I chose to do.
During the early years of developing Etsy, I spent many many hours on the project. I ate poorly. Most of my friendships faded away. Phone calls to my family grew sparse. Hours of programming damaged my body.
Success eventually came, and the company's performance exceeded even my wildest imagination.
Later I was able to restore and repair most of the damage I did to my health.
I'm still working on my relationships.
I believe now that I could have found a much more appropriate balance and still helped the company grow as it did. I believe that true success would have been the inclusion of all those aspects of my life, and it is only now that I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment."
Angela Lee: Founder, 37 Angels
I was introduced to Angela not too long after I spoke on an investment panel earlier this year in New York City at the 2016 Women Entrepreneurs Festival. Her unique approach to investing at 37 Angels includes structured training along with a supportive network in order to increase the number of women investing in early stage startups. A serial entrepreneur in her own right, Angela also serves as the Associate Dean and Chief Innovation Officer of Columbia Business School. Angela's advice:
"If you know you're going into a period of intense work, tell your support network.
First, you're setting expectations with those close to you. The hey, I have to do a three-month sprint at work, so you might not see a lot of me conversation goes a long way in helping people understand why you're not very available, and I find it avoids hurt feelings.
Secondly, they can support you through that tough time - but that means asking for help.
I used to never talk about my struggles and failures as they were happening. Instead I'd wait until I was on the other end and then vent. My close friends and family would always ask why I hadn't asked for help.
I remember one year I was making Chinese New Year Dinner for twelve friends. I woke up at 2 AM because I needed a four-hour window to braise my beef shank and that was the only time that would work.
My husband didn't know about this until the next day. His first question was why on earth I didn't ask him for help."
Neil Vogel, CEO, About.com
Back in 2009, I actually tried out as a content creator for About.com. Although I remained a fan of the site, the role wasn't a good fit - and a few months later I launched APPCityLife. Under the leadership of Neil Vogel, the company has recently undergone several adjustments to realign itself within the rapidly changing market of digital content. Neil Vogel is also cofounder of Recognition Media, famed for its globally popular Webby Awards. Neil's advice:
"I don't think cost is the right word, it suggests that everything is a trade, and one can't be balanced or healthy while in pursuit of success. I think you can.
It's about time management, prioritization, expectations, and life balance. I find I am better manager, thinker, and doer when my life outside of work is more full - you are exposed to more ideas, and healthier emotions. The sub-culture of hustle for hustle's sake has never made sense to me. That is not to say I haven't worked incredibly hard (and do still), but you need to find time to have a life - for your family, things you love, or simply working out - or it's going to hurt your professional results."