RA Dickey of the New York Mets is the closest I've ever had to a sports hero. His story of overcoming child abuse, a missing arm ligament, a decade in the minors and going on to reinvent himself in his mid-30's using a pitch few have mastered is nothing short of inspirational. I took the afternoon off a couple of weeks ago to see him win his 20th game of the season at Citifield. I've never been so excited to root for an athlete my whole life. Oh, did I mention it turns out he's been pitching with a torn abdominal muscle all season? It's the best hero story we have going in professional sports.
It made me think of entrepreneurial stories and whether or not a hero story is necessary or critical to success. Do the most successful entrepreneurs have hero stories of triumphing over adversity?
Some founders can tell tales of borrowing money, getting down to the last dime, but not all of them can. The Google guys seemed to have a pretty smooth ride relatively speaking. Even the Facebook movie needed to be embellished to make it more interesting. The movie centers around a lawsuit. Not exactly Braveheart.
That being said, I've clearly been on the wrong side of anti-hero pitches... People who just weren't inspiring at all and couldn't get me on board for any kind of ride. They're often doing a startup because that's what it seems smart people do these days--like the same way the best people piled into investment banking or consulting years ago. There's nothing personal about this particular area for them and it's unclear what motivates them to keep going--other than the prospect of having a VC validate them. I don't know how these people are ever going to get an investment, get press or close a hire--because all off the above requires people to feel like they're a part of something bigger.
I wasn't just watching game and a psychologically satisfying stat being reached. I was watching a legendary story in the making.
Stories create a construct-a framework to make sure we've accounted for all the parts. Figuring out how to tell your hero story is a good exercise to double check your reasons for being an entrepreneur and for making sure you've pushed yourself hard enough to have at least some adversity.
What is it that you're doing now that they will tell as part of the hero story of how you started your company?