In my last post of 2007, I put together a list of the 10 best bits of the year. At #1 was the support I get from my wife. She’s a lot more modest than me (one of her many charms) and was less than convinced that she deserved Rockstar status.
When you’re on the startup roller-coaster, the support of those around you can play a big role in your determination and willingness to keep going. No matter how good the idea and how fervently you believe in it, there are always some dark days that you really have to dig deep to fight through.
10+ years ago, I was in a different relationship and up to my neck in a very challenging turnaround. It was effectively a startup, except that we had none of the goodwill that comes with being a new company and were burdened with some serious debt and overhead. My partner at the time was initially supportive, but as the hours climbed and the wall between work and home crumbled, that support evaporated. To be fair, the workload was ridiculous and I didn’t know then as well as I know now just what was going to be involved. In other words, I probably didn’t set expectations very well. But that lack of support made a heavy burden worse and contributed mightily to the demise of that relationship.
In contrast, having the support of someone you know and trust (in good times and in bad, no less) can transform even the heaviest burden into a salvageable situation.
The Rockstar status I give to my wife is based on a long list of qualities and actions. In no particular order, here are some highlights:
- An incredible tolerance for my lack of a paycheck (and the impact that has on our personal finances and spending habits)
- A willingness to help out, including taking a job to help pay the bills
- The strength to read some 30+ iterations of the same damn business plan (and listen to the related Powerpoint pitches)
- A continuous and active interest in what I’m doing and how things are going
- A well tuned ear for listening when I need to talk something through, combined with a willingness to tell me to "suck it up" when that’s what I need to hear
- An obvious sense of pride in what we’re doing and the things we accomplish
- Patience with long hours, odd schedules and milestones that move around constantly
Like any normal human being, she has days when she would just like me to have a paycheck and a normal schedule. But she knows that I love what I do, and in a Rainman-esque way, it’s what I’m wired for.
That kind of support makes all the difference in the world. And boy am I going to owe her some serious shoe indulgence when we get funded…