Yes, I'm oversimplifying a bit, but I don't think by much. I think the mental/emotional harm that this sort of fixation on 'startups' has on many people is understated - we mourn the loss of someone to suicide, but say "he had other problems already". No 'founders' are ever comfortable talking to anyone about any fears/doubts because they will lose all respect from staff and investors, so there's an emotional toll being taken on a small (but growing) group of people.
Damnit, Kimsal, quit dashing my dreams!!! Take your cold, hard reality and pitch it somebody who wants it... I prefer living in a world where I can be a billionaire someday.
As I've said numerous times.. I'd make a great billionaire playboy; if only I had a billion dollars. :-)
FWIW, you would make an awesome billionaire playboy. Even a decent millionaire playboy someday. ;)
If that kind of stuff gets to you, I would suggest the opposite of what the author did- don't read the news. These days there is very little valuable information because every media company is competing for eyeballs so they each try to out-do each other with sensational, deceptive and in some cases completely false headlines. I can't help but feel dumber every time I read Bloomberg news or the Wall Street Journal. Just don't do it. Go on a news diet for a week and see if you don't feel better and if you miss out on any important news.
I've found out that I'm much happier when I don't read the news, in particular news about politics. On the other hand, news about science & technology sometimes do make me happy.
Contemporary "political news" is propaganda carefully crafted by concerned corporations to misinform the viewer, both targeted "reverse lobbying" on specific issues and general-purpose anti-participation tactics. The idea seems to be to get voters to act against their economic and/or ethical interests either by convincing them to mis-vote (compared to how they would if they were more informed) or not vote, via manufactured dissent, character assassination, blurring of issues and facts, and irrelevant/impossible campaign promises (e.g. archaic issues like gender and reproductive rights and "border control" that's thinly veiled racism (and won't happen because companies want the illegals and they pay better)).
Call it reverse advertising. We've gotten so good at PR techniques that they've become invisible. Everything stays the same, but we rebrand it and view the world through the lens of the internet, detached from empathy with the bitter natural world, in a cocoon suckling the nectar of porn-- over-processed information.
This is why startups have only yet caused negligible political change. Software, and by extension most programmers, are effectively "brains in a vat." Shows how machines have already "taken over" the world, and haven't displaced us in the process. The singularity already happened, but we're still large, hairless bipedal rodents-- and computers are not. Human bodies need different stuff than machines, so we don't have to be competitive.
Likewise, hackers just want to have fun, and -- as this comment bears witness -- we just talk about it online instead of doing anything about it. Hackers aren't competitive with suits any more than computers are to biology. Suits want software, so nerds get paid, but then turn around and re-invest their money, move to Singapore and live it up, go on perma-vacation, etc. There are many brilliant hackers, many of them also more than charismatic and wealthy enough to get into national office. Instead they build the programming language they've always wanted, or take up cycling, or reconnect with nature.
When we do look beyond the bubble of hedonism, we're comparable to people who pray for things out of their control, i.e. asking for something, instead of either making adjustments to gain control or accepting that control is ultimately undesirable or impossible. Self-directed prayer (meditation), where one looks inward and develops a dialog with 'eir layers of consciousness, is something different, but other-directed prayer is the single-player version of "happy news" (porn), be it cat pictures or startup drama or gadget announcements or sports or esoteric programming language design.
Silicon Valley may yet reshape the world, even if some of us take scenic bike rides. (That was one of the bad things, if I'm keeping your argument straight, while empathy with the natural world in general is good. The problem with bike rides is they take time that could be spent running for president.)
I understand the point that many sectors of society could use some new life breathed into them, but I think the oxygen needs to come from where it will, and it will come.
I mean - the only difference between FB and many other social networks is that everybody happened to be on FB. Of course it takes enormous amount of skill to operate on this scale, but if all those people weren't on FB, they would be on one of those other social networks doing more or less the same thing.
But Google is different. I mean - do you even remember how people used internet before Google? Google was not just "marginally better, more popular AltaVista", it dramatically changed the way we do things online. And then it did it again with GMail. Not to forget Android (though it's not in the same league as search & email). Anyway, Google had a good deal of luck and good timing, but it was by no way "dumb".
Believe it or not, Facebook has changed a lot in the way people interact with each other. Just like Google search changed the way we do things online.
And it certainly changed a lot more than GMail...
You can make a big bundle forging steel too, but where's the sex in that?
Oh, I don't have a $1B company, I've got to beat myself up about it.
Oh, I'm older than So and So 20 year old who sold his company for $15M.
Oh, I'm too young to have the right experience to really tap into this niche.
Oh, I spent too much on college and now have all this debt and need to get a real job instead of starting my business.
Oh, I didn't go to college and everyone else my age has great connections from it.
Just stop playing A you lose, B you lose.
Find yourself annoyed about something "unfair?" Focus on a problem you can actually fix instead.
If you find yourself upset about kids who went to a $40k/year private high school winning the world, just re-focus your attention on what you can do now. Code. Fix. Help a real person. Get out of your own head for a while.
Success and growth are fueled by output. Running circles in your mind about our broken world only serves to make you more efficient at feeling angry. Use your limited conscious hours every day to make the world a quantitatively better place.
A smart way to avoid this is to realize that sometimes "your brain wants to feel bad, so it's determined to find a reason to feel that way." If you were feeling great and now feel awful because of a thought (or reading unrelated news), then this is probably what happened.
I've found two axioms to hold true:
1) Don't compare your life to anyone's. Just don't. Comparing any two lives is fundamentally apples to oranges, because each life is its own thing.
2) Once you've got the bottom tier of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs covered well enough where you can feel assured that it'll stay covered, money doesn't buy much happiness.
In Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman there is a section on media and how it mostly, and understandably, reports the more interesting edge cases. However a side effect of this causes the majority of people to believe car crashes are more common than heart attacks and often leads to poor judgements by utilization of the availability heuristic (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic). The take home message for me is keep on keeping on.
This takes first world problems to a whole new level.
We were all sapient when this mess started. (Hell, it's still starting. When the iPhone launched, Blackberry had 10 million devices in the entire world (sold over 8 years). Apple sold over 70 million iPhones in the past two quarters. We're still very much in the technology up and to the right phase.)
Back to the depressing bit -- you must face the fact you did not do this. You are not rich. You must admit to yourself they won because they were either: first, smarter, or they cheated. It's easy to say they cheated. They stole data. They "hacked." They lied on contracts. They ignored authority and did it anyway. They had their magical parent funds to fall back on (see: microsoft). We are not them, but that means we can blindside them next time.
With the saturation of technology, companies providing ego-level services seem important because it's what brains will gravitate towards. With the saturation of technology, we get these never-before-seen billion user companies. The first is unique, then it becomes passé.
Let them figure the basics out then zoom past them next time. Remember: companies are slow moving monuments to failure. Use their size against them.
Life isn't fair. If "teh social" is the most important accomplishment of humanity (you would think based on how much people talk about it), please shoot me now. As for me, I'm still betting on PointCast.
It's not that anyone actually needs billions of dollars, but if you are not making millions/billions of dollars, you start to question what is wrong with you that causes people to not care, when they obviously do care about these other people.
It is something on my mind a lot here lately. I have serious financial problems and have for quite a long time. A few months ago, I ended up homeless. The amount of money I need to clean up my financial mess is a drop in the bucket compared to what I am saving American tax payers by getting myself and my sons well. Saying that almost never gets me any support online. What seems to get some support is when I say my webites will cease to exist because I can't afford it. Donations have kept them online for three years.
In other words, people care about my work. But they mostly don't care about me personally. That has its good points and bad points but is counterintuitive for me. I'm a bleeding heart who cares too damn much about other people.
Edit: Let's a do a little experiment to make my point. I currently have 23 cents in the bank and I don't know how I and my sons will survive (as in get enough to eat) for the rest of the month. Do you and other people give a damn about me? Enough to donate money on my sites? (Call the goal of this experiment $500 this weekend.)
I am guessing the answer is a resounding "NO". I am guessing you will be the first person to prove me right and not give me one thin dime.
But your guess is accurate. People want to be hands-on, social, and specific, so "I am poor and need money to survive" is a extremely truthful, realistic story that markets poorly. The story they like is the one where it has a dialogue with more specific, concrete elements: "I liked this site so much, I gave money to help keep it running..." They also adore having a foe to fight against or a person who becomes some kind of representative of a cause.
All the techniques of fiction could be employed to make the work you already have(which clearly has some value) feel like something people should contribute further to - nothing actually fake or untruthful is necessary, it just means finding a certain way in which to tell the story. At the end of it, people become inclined to give a donation, fund the writing of a book, etc. The product itself often isn't at the core of motivation to buy, so much as "I want to finish the story being told."
I am not a "charity case" -- I.e. just a waste of money. I have something of significant value to offer the world but I need help to make it happen. Unfortunately, it looks and sounds like I am a charity case, simply because what I pulled off fell outside the paradigms currently in use and the assistance I need does not fit neatly into a VC/ startup investment type model.
* Though technically the weekend is not over, still this is likely long gone from the front page and won't be read by too many more people.
That is a given. That is why it is irrational. The fact remains that every dollar given to you feels like someone cares.
I've talked before that I do a little farming on the side. That is some of the most satisfying work I do because there are people - metaphorically - lined up to buy every last morsel I can produce. It feels like the whole world cares about what I'm doing, even if in reality they just want to satisfy their hunger.
But, as I wrote earlier, we are irrational emotional beings. That feeling is what drives us, no matter how foolish it may be when looked at logically.
I have two ASD sons. I have read, thought about, and discussed such things quite a lot.
Have you published any of your medical insights as Kindle ebooks?
No, I have not done an ebook. I am currently trying to declare bankruptcy and gradually develop my sites as I am able. It is very slow going. If you have any ability to direct traffic to them, that could wind up being meaningful.
You might be surprised to know that many people in third world countries are frustrated with their lives too. For example there are multiple Asian countries with higher suicide rates than the US and Canada.
If anything this kind of venting and sharing is a healthy coping mechanism.
And on that note, I'm going out.
It sounded like he has went through a lot himself, and he recommended the audience a book, which I bought, read, re-read, and still read a few pages a day today - and it really helps. Don't let the cover fool you, this has nothing to do with preaching about religion (I remain agnostic). I can't recommend it enough: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062512943?ie=UTF8&tag=...
Another reminder that no matter how much you achieve or obtain, all of us have a sense of ambition that can easily ruin our happiness if we don't keep it in proper control.
Let's see how it goes.
Anyway, the whole point is that having enough money that money is not a major point of stress in your life will help you to be happy, but beyond that it starts to anticorrelate. If you have founded a company that is making a million a year (I'm assuming we're talking about profit and not revenue), and money is a major point of stress in your life, your best bet (in terms of personal happiness) is to change your lifestyle so that you're living within those means.
Keep in mind, 99% of individuals in the world make less than $50k/year.
On the one hand is the hubris of it all. Dejected over not being a billionaire? More so than money, what one needs in that context is perspective.
I have colleagues, friends and business partners who fall in the category of highly financially successful. Extreme wealth comes with more trouble than one might expect. Anonymity? Good luck with that. Jealousy from friends? A lot. Thrill quotient goes way, way WAY up? Like clockwork. Your personality changes? Big time. Still feel unfulfilled? Almost guaranteed. Biggie was right -- mo money, mo problems.
On the other hand is dealing with your goals, and whether or not you have attained them. If your goal is to acquire a billion dollars...well, shoot for higher ground (not higher dollars.) Financial happiness and comfort is one thing, but a specific number has more to do with ego. Money, as a goal, just doesn't equate to feelings of accomplishment. Instead, set your goals to non-financial things; it's the only way one can ever really satisfy those feelings of reward.
BTW, all those I've know who generated their own wealth did so without a primary focus of acquiring wealth -- it was a byproduct of their actions. They were driven by something else, the money was just a consequence.
On the one hand, the crap in my head is literally worth billions (annual medical care costs for the 30,000 people with cystic fibrosis is roughly $3 billion a year by my best guestimate or about $1.5 billion a year if you accept the low ball estimate of some article I read). Yet I am currently deeply in debt and homeless.
Am I depressed? Not really, because I and my sons are healthy when that is not supposed to be possible. And that alone is worth millions, even if no one else benefits. But I am frothing at the mouth frustrated that a) I can't resolve my financial problems even though they are a drop in the bucket compared to what the medical expenses alone "should" be and b) I cannot seem to make much headway towards spreading the word.
Yet, I also wrestle with valid concerns about self protection. Revealing myself tends to get strong reactions from people, both positive and negative. Those strong reactions can be potentially dangerous.
Still trying to work it all out, in my head and in practical terms.
As a community, I think we should discuss this (mental health in the echo chamber) a lot more.
In what regards? If the metric is "who got laid more?" then I'm guessing Vanderbilt and Rockefeller win. If it's "who left more of a mark on history," then sure, Nietzsche and Shakespeare, hands down. So the question is, what's your priority?
Its good that you have a sense of perspective about this and you don't let the money aspect go to your head. After all, I find it enormously grotesque that these Internet companies are valued so high since one change of management or one new thing can make you become obsolete (MySpace and Yahoo are good examples).
Don't let it get to you, the whole point is that you have your own business and its still there. You can also just think of it as $100 billion of inflated currency. (21.8% to be exact when Facebook was created in 2004 to now).
I am reminded of what Derek Sivers said sometime after the movie 'Social Network' came out. 'A billion dollars is not cool, you know what's cool ... A million dollars'. (can't find in which video he said that)
I believe nobody can plan to be a billionaire. But people can plan to be millionaires. And I think the blog post does articulate a healthy way of doing it. But I wonder, why would a person feel depressed at all about not being a billionaire. I think its foolish to even dream about it, really.
But, if you just find yourself being one anyway, good then, deal with it. Else, try to be a millionaire, and then take it as it comes.
Another point is that the impression to be trapped in an unsatisfying situation can also lead to depression. Anticipate a way out. Build a company that doesn't depend on you to run it and that leaves you free time to try other ideas. You won't be trapped.
I'm not in any kind of "bad spot" mentally, but it is reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who feels somewhat unaccomplished in light of the incessant tech news chaos.
It's not sexy, but building your wealth slowly is a better way to live.
The author lists a lot of good points but it boils down to "keeping it real" and keeping your friends, family, and personal life at arm's reach.
"Avoiding Depression While Not Running a $1B Company" just sounds a bit extreme.
$1B? I can't even fathom that much money.
So is wanting a six-foot tall, red-headed super-model with a Scottish accent. But I still want one. And if I ran a billion dollar company, I might A. be able to spend time searching the world for one, and B. actually woo her (even if she does just like me for my money). So, yeah, I want something weird, indirectly, because I want something even weirder. Weird, huh?