Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on April 2, 2009 By Draginol In Business

The other day I got my social security statement in where it shows how much I have made each year since I started working. The amounts are all over the place, especially after I made Stardock my career.

There is something truly unique in the personality makeup of the entrepreneur that founds his (or her) own company from scratch to execute on some new idea and then builds it up to something that involves hiring employees and dealing with significant amounts of revenue.

For one thing, I think it requires a little bit of insanity. Seriously. Let me explain: An entrepreneur’s fortune (or poverty) is based on living off their wits. How much money an entrepreneur makes isn’t dependent on how long they worked or how hard they worked. In fact, many an entrepreneur sees their dream die and their fortunes turn to ash despite working amazingly hard and long. Few people understand “life isn’t fair” better than an entrepreneur.

Most people (as in, nearly all people) go to work and do a job in which they are, at some level, told what to do. Even the recently fired CEO of General Motors was merely a guy working a job.  By contrast, an entrepreneur has to invent their job in the first place and then, later, invent the jobs for others to take.

If anyone takes what I wrote above as “bragging” on behalf of entrepreneurs, don’t. It takes a certain level of mental illness to motivate oneself to do what I just described.

I have a friend named Jeff Schader who ostensibly is a competitor of ours to a degree. Every several months we have a horrific flame war with promises of utter destruction on the other. Then, some months later, we start talking again as if nothing had happened.  It drives some of my coworkers nuts. Why the hell am I talking to this guy?  And ultimately, it’s an answer few can understand. He’s an entrepreneur. He has nearly an identical personality as I have (different skill sets, I’m an engineer, he’s a creative). At some instinctive level, we are always going to be kindred spirits.

As companies get larger, the wise entrepreneur will start to shield external partners, customers, and furry animals from himself (or herself) by hiring other people who aren’t as hyper-aggressive as they are. And in my experience, entrepreneurs tend to be hyper-aggressive to the point of self-destruction.  There has been many a time where had I been the the one talking to a major (>$1M) partner after they did something to piss me off I would have told them to kiss my butt.

I remember one time, after dealing with some translation issue in one of our programs loudly promising (in our offices) that “Europe can suck it!” Luckily, cooler heads prevail around me and it’s not anything personal against the target, it is that the mental illness in most entrepreneurs that I’ve met (and including myself) is the requirement for personal freedom even at the cost of money. Because it’s not about the money, it’s about the freedom to do whatever the heck you want.


Comments
on Apr 02, 2009

A lot of people in my family are farmers and I think they all have this "illness." Their income is based on the gamble that their land will produce a crop and livestock feed for them without getting hailed out, infested, diseased or be stricken with a drought. They all have to be a little crazy to roll the dice with nature.

 

This has caused me to think about this topic a few times myself and I've pretty much come to the same conclusion. For instance my Dad(farmer/rancher) has the same qualities you described; such as being a 'little' brash and hard to work with when upset. If something doesn't happen like he expects it to, he'll let you know with some info jammed between a flurry of expletives. If only I had a penny every time I got swore at.

 

I can't help but wonder if there's an 'Entrepreneurial Gene'.

 

P.S. Jeff sounds like your Lex Luther.

P.P.S. "Europe can suck it!" t-shirts soon to be available in the Stardock merchandise section?

on Apr 03, 2009

There is a fine line between genius and insanity, and sometimes the line becomes very blurry.  I wonder if it is possible to find any really driven person who isn't a bit mentally ill and/or willing to take huge risks.  I think the willingness to live your work is the one thing that most people don't do.  People begrudge CEO's and the like because of their wages, but they never think about that fact that those people never walk away from work.  Those people don't spend their sleep problem solving issues to work on the next day or spend their weekends answering email and scanning websites for problems that can't wait until Monday.  You just have to be a bit sick in the head to live your work.  LOL

on Apr 03, 2009

I imagine, ironically, that a lot of entrepreneurs end up crafting a system that is their undoing- either they fail and start up something else/give up the dream or they are wildly successful, create a huge organization in which they end up having little control over in the end, and then either give up or are fired and go do something else.  I'm not an entrepreneurial type myself, so this is speculation, but I can see things working out that way.  I bet the number of entrepreneurs that are successful and stay in the same business until retirement is quite low, but entrepreneurs are betting types of people and likely try to beat the odds.

Interesting post, Brad.  It seems like you've done a lot of self-reflection recently, which is a good thing.  Quite a bit of it objective, some of it personal in nature.  Too many people forego a self-analysis, which means they can be blinded from the truth about who they are (and are not).

on Apr 03, 2009

Interesting post, Brad.  It seems like you've done a lot of self-reflection recently, which is a good thing.  Quite a bit of it objective, some of it personal in nature.  Too many people forego a self-analysis, which means they can be blinded from the truth about who they are (and are not).

I would say that self-reflection is a constant for the entrepreneurial type. It keeps the insanity to manageable levels and retains the capacity for reinvention/adaptation if the need ever arises. That, and also an incessant analysis of circumstances and keeping the mind working and open to anything relevant.

Though everyone is different, I knew there was something about Brad that looked familiar...

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