The Lonely Life of a Leader

By Danny Sellers

Creating an idea is very easy. A nice long walk, road trip or even a few beers with a friend can all be a great catalyst for creation. It seems like social media is filled with inspirational quotes and meaningless blog features. It is cool to be an entrepreneur these days. Rants from people like Dame Dash give us all hope and motivation to build something for ourselves.  A few minutes of priceless monologue from Dame and others paint a beautiful picture of working hard and reaping the benefits. Many motivational dialogues give us a false sense of entitlement such as - If you work on your idea, you’re going to get success. While I agree with some of this rhetoric, I also disagree. I personally don’t think entrepreneurship is that binary. And as someone who is trying to build his own businesses, the road just isn’t that simple. Life of a creator is rough.

Lonely life of a creator

Creating something unique and worthwhile typically takes time. In a normal job you have peers and manager to tell you good job or ask for your expertise in something. While we take these gestures for granted they really do help our self esteem. A founder doesn't have that luxury. Once you’re established you probably have a team and environment of positivity and reassurance but that's after all the hardest work is done. According to this study, out of 242 entrepreneurs surveyed, 49% said they had a lifetime mental health condition. 30% of entrepreneurs answered experience depression as opposed to 15% of comparison participants. The highs can be high and the lows can get pretty low. You have to fight everyday to prove your creation’s validity.

Not every day gives clear wins

When creating something it is hard to objectify things at times. When you are working at a regular job someone is typically paying you regardless. You’ll get an hourly check just as long as your predetermined task are done for a specific amount of time. In many bureaucratic systems that time given is usually disproportionate to time needed. I get it, you might be given a short deadline for one task but once that task is complete you can easily have a couple easy weeks ahead (I see a lot of Snapchats across industries with the caption “Bored at work”, “Fake Work”, etc). Well in entrepreneurship this is totally different. The biggest difference is you’re not getting paid for any of it yet! Second thing is we are not given a set of tasks for the day that automatically grants success. When creating something you set up your own task everyday. Some of those tasks end to a breaking point and others will be a total waste of time. This is not always a clear win of the day or week. Something that you have been grinding towards slowly but surely could go unnoticed until it’s actually an objective output. Somedays it just harder to walk away with a win if you don’t yet have anything to show for it.

No playbook

When you decide to focus on your idea there is no welcome packet or training that comes in the mail the next week. All you are given is a laptop, bills and your work ethic. Nobody tells you how to build a team, how to work with people or how to properly manage human capital. There simply isn’t a one size fits all solution to any of it. And I never believe someone who tells me there is. I heard a podcast called Innovation Crush featuring Rodney Williams CEO of LISNR. I’m paraphrasing but Rodney said that every day even Mark Zuckerberg is doing something he has never done before. He has never run a company as big as the one he is running today. And that has been the case for him since 2004. That just puts it into perspective that you always have to be evolving yourself and ideas because what worked yesterday might not work today. So there is no playbook to it. The biggest thing we can be consistent on is self awareness.


We get married to ideas. Momentum in entrepreneurship is huge for moral and overall efficiency. But every good entrepreneur I listen to has no fear of pivoting their idea to what the market needs and wants. If I told you that if you just changed your idea around, it would work, you would think that most people would do it in a snap of a finger. In my findings I don’t see that as the case. We get held up on things that we want rather than what the market wants at times. Changing and catering something to the masses can be hard to come to terms with. Because that thing could easily not fall in line with what made you happy to begin with, but pivoting is part of longevity. If it wasn’t, Google would still be worth less than Yahoo, and we’d all be using AOL instant messenger.

Social Media

Instagram and Snapchat stories are great tools to flex with. Regardless of topic we typically choose social media to show the highlights of our lives. Entrepreneurship is no different to this fact. Aspiring business owners can follow music moguls like DJ Khaled or Diddy and see the undeniable benefits of success. What we don’t see are the multiple setbacks in between. So while those positive reinforcements are good pick me ups, they also have to be taken with a grain of salt. That’s not reality. Those are filters that we can’t get past.

Just because it’s in our bio doesn’t mean it’s true

We can put CEO, Founder, Serial Entrepreneur and so many other titles beside our names, but it really doesn’t mean anything. When I see people posting about their businesses on social media I want to ask them a question. My question being: What are your plans to grow your business and leave your 9-5 and work full time on this? If you can’t confidently answer that then are you really an entrepreneur or a person with a hobbie(s). There is nothing wrong with hobbies. I just think a hobby is not seen or grown in the same light as true entrepreneurship and creation.

I think we can all self- validate with words more times than action. Entrepreneurship is about relentless work and vision. A born leader gets a feeling in the pit of their stomach when there are organizational faults. They get easily uninvested when time is wasted. They genuinely don’t like to have to ask for permission. They most importantly have an internal clock that clicks at a different beat than most. Real leaders don’t start something because it’s popular or the cool thing to do. They start something because they believe in its principles and can barely focus knowing it’s not progressing.

Everyone wants to be their own boss now days. But when it’s no longer cool, who’s gonna sign your checks?

Photo Credit: Danny Sellers