A Tale of Two Cities
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a bit of both, really.
I’m not one for the mumbo-jumbo of the Myers-Briggs test, but I suppose it was striking that when I did it before my startup I rated very strongly as INFP, and yet now I’m very much on the ENTJ spectrum. It appears that having to do shit in a prompt, aggressive way does bring out very different approaches.
So, startups are hard. You already know that.
In my case, every attempt to think that through inevitably ends up being a little self-pitying.
How and why did I decide that leaving my family, and puppy, coming to a foreign place, to work on some problems involving the silos of payments, mobile, commerce and gender equity, was the best life and career decision of all?
Yet… I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Yes, I know the rates of failure are high, in any startup. Not to mention one with foreign laws, language, culture, and way of life/business.
Yes, I know that there’s only so much hustle can bring you. There’s also the regulations and expectations of archaic industries and economies in certain countries.
But man, it’s exhilarating. If shit hits the fan and nothing goes the way we intend despite the best laid plans of man (and woman), then at the least we can say that I now have very specific knowledge and connections in some fairly obscure Asian markets.
It was a brutal week.
I lost a kid in the community my foundation does a lot of work in. She was 14. She had dreams. She was vivacious. Perhaps, her undoing, in an unforgiving climate.
I lost a key team member. To the same brew of inexperience and lack of discipline and foresight. But team before product, and it’s never going to be easy.
Also, some huge gains. Solved some massive business obstacles. Created some solid partnerships. Brought in many valuable individuals to build the team. Net-net, a good week, if a little brutal.
There’s shit to do and a world of problems to solve. A glut of solutions we can create and design, and hopefully do so beautifully, with elegance, sensitivity and impact.
In late 2012 as I stood on a similar crossroad contemplating major life decisions, mostly relating to the geography and type of work I wanted to surround myself with, I found tremendous opportunities, but I also found my heart had already decided.
My 30s are to be spent in my backyard. In Asia. In the emerging markets of Asia. Doing as much insane and crazy shit as I can possibly throw at it. I feel honoured to even have a single shot at it.
It was the best of times, and the worst of times. Ask me again some weeks from now. Months. Years.
I think I will say that there’s nothing else I would rather do, and nowhere else I would rather be, than here in the heart of Java, toiling for a dream.