July 26, 2012

Buy the Ticket, Wait in Line.

There are millions of posts out there which talk about how hard of a challenge start up life is. Read a few and you’ll get the gist of how it feels to live like a pirate.

These articles will talk about all the different stress factors that you will face. Everything from long days to working all night to scale your product because you got slash dotted. It’s almost a rite of passage or a pre-req that you are able to hack all night while dodging every distraction that comes your way and still making morning standup.

Even though these things have a certain bad boy glamour to them that entices young developers, I don’t feel like these are truly the challenges that epitomize startup culture. In truth I feel that this is a misrepresentation of the culture to those who have not yet been able to see for themselves. It’s almost as if we are setting the expectation just so when that next young intern comes in he will feel that he has to be the last one out of the office every night if he wishes to be accepted by his peers. Maybe this is because founders expect more from their troops, maybe not but in either case it’s not the full truth and certainly not the most painful part of a start up in my eyes. Most of that comes with the territory after a few jobs.

So what is? Start ups are a roller coaster. The thing no one tells you is that theme parks are really popular so there are lines. In my mind this is the most challenging part of start up life. Not because waiting in line is physically hard but it requires mental focus and patience while you endure the slow progress that inevitably determines the speed at which you get your next adrenaline fix. After all, the idea of going really fast through a series of loops and possibly puking afterwards is why we are here, I see waiting in line is the trade off.

Maybe I am just a really success oriented person but my favorite part of the start up life is when measurable progress occurs and all those long hours become worth it. You see, the long hours late nights and red bull hangovers are just part of the deal. It doesn’t matter if I work for a start up or a big company, if I want to be successful I will do whatever it takes. I can endure endless hours of late night hacking with relative ease. The truly hard thing to endure in a startup is stagnation.

Ultimately every startup has to buy the ticket before they take the ride on the success coaster. The part most people leave out is how long the lines are when you get there.

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