You are their horse, and they ride you into their own perceived sunset, with everybody applauding. When things go sour they put you down. Look out for hissy fits when things don't go as planned, like not being "in on that deal."
Two types of people give them narcissistic supply, and sustain them: people that actually believe the grandiose self-image they project, and others who just try and ride their coat tails, even if they know them to be fake.
Narcissists can get very nasty and use their positions of power to outcast, betray, or wrongly portray anyone that stands in their way, or show them up. Narcissists are very unlikely to change. Keep well clear - you are just a cardboard cut out.
I've noticed that they thrive on taking the credit of others, because deep down they feel deeply insufficient. They act over the top of these feelings. I've found it may have something to do with unloving, competitive, or conditionally loving parents. President may well be a Narcissist.
I realize that this isn't exactly what hackers normally do, but maybe it is worth starting to do?
Maybe if you were a butler or servant to a monarch or dictator, it could help you avoid death or poverty. Just try and get out of there.
Check out: http://www.youtube.com/samvaknin (he's a narcissist, who analyzes his own self)
I hear this a lot and it bugs me because in so many cases it's just not true, and I think it actually stops more people from starting companies.
Founders don't risk their lives to start companies. In the Silicon Valley, they don't risk their careers either. At most they risk a few years of below-market salary and a bruised ego.
I have great worry that trying to start a business in the US is the largest mistake that I've ever made, and think I have legitimate fear that if it fails, there will be no legal way to recover. Suggestions for how others should avoid this position would be useful, but blanket statements that say that it really isn't a big deal aren't that helpful.
All the more reason to do it while you're young and healthy, I suppose.
All in all, I'd suggest that foreclosure is not a big deal.
Also, if you are taking on personal financial risk with a startup, you're already doing it wrong. Limited liability entities exist for a reason.
You knew what you were signing up for, or if you didn't, you have had every opportunity to bail.
how wet the pillow gets at night when times get tough
I sure hope you weren't being literal here. Cry me a river, man. From where you are now, the level of fail it would require for you to even approach the realm of the suffering and the downtrodden would be truly epic.
Your point is that it makes you sad that investors don't get more emotionally invested in the ventures that they back. The backers have their own secret war to fight. It's not all rainbows and unicorns for them either. I think you are fundamentally missing something. Treating the whole experience like a game is exactly the right approach. It is the only way that you get out of this with any sanity left intact.
This is coming from someone who has been right there in the trenches, over several at bats. I know what it's like to feel as if the walls are closing in on you. Embrace those darkest of days! That is where your power comes from. There is freedom in knowing that your worst case scenario is not only survivable, but it is a blessing in disguise.
As critical as I'm being here, you know that I'm still on your side. The bind of entrepreneurship ties us and when you win, we all win. So, I'm rooting for you. I just think you will look back on this post in a couple of years and realize how sophomoric it all sounds.
But don't forget Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing for entrepreneurs. When angels are investing for any reason other than 'make more money', valuations go up and terms improve.
Seed equity in early-stage companies is on the verge of becoming a Veblen good - the more expensive and exclusive the deal is, the more satisfying it is to be able to nonchalantly say "yeah, I'm in that deal."
if Dave McClure doesnt bother to enlighten me there, maybe i'll get some info here?
i personally support the OP and have the same attitude to my venture.
I don't really understand the indignation.