Despite the endless list of to-do’s accompanying our recently launched Kickstarter campaign, Thanksgiving has inspired me to stop and reflect on what I’m truly thankful for. I’ll focus on one dynamic in particular that has conferred benefits on me personally and professionally: an incredible support system.
Statistically speaking, starting a company alone is a bad idea. In fact, a solo founder is #1 on legendary venture capitalist Paul Graham’s list of 18 Mistakes that Kill Startups. Graham writes: “The low points in a startup are so low that few could bear them alone. When you have multiple founders, esprit de corps binds them together in a way that seems to violate conservation laws… This is one of the most powerful forces in human nature, and it's missing when there's just one founder.”
These words sat lodged in the back of my mind as I tinkered alone in my kitchen for a year-and-a-half, formulating the first iterations of IQ Bars. Yet over this period I also learned that Graham’s analysis fails to account for a major variable. The right support system can effectively “stand in” for a second founder. It can play roughly the same role Graham ascribes to a business partner, helping a founder brainstorm, talking him out of stupid decisions, and cheering him up when things go wrong.
I have a family, girlfriend, and friend group that have assumed that role in stride since I made the crazy decision to create a brain food company in mid-2016. As I now reflect on the impact those closest to me have on my resilience and wellbeing, I cannot help but feel incredibly thankful. I’m well aware that my hectic, “always-on” lifestyle has certain negative externalities on others around me, and should more regularly recognize and applaud the unwavering support I receive regardless of that fact.
Since fortuitously meeting and joining forces with a group of rock star advisors and the digital marketing powerhouse that is Andrew Smeallie (now head of IQ Bar’s e-commerce efforts), I’ve been able to throttle back reliance on my personal support system. However, that reliance will never fully dissipate – nor should it in my opinion. To some degree, needing others is a healthy dynamic, as is being needed.
Few people have achieved success in any aspect of life without a phenomenal support system. Those who claim they have are probably lying or woefully unaware. To me, Thanksgiving is the perfect time for of us to reflect on both the support systems we leverage, and those we rely on. Not only does this generate a great deal of gratitude, but it allows us to course-correct where needed.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!