Friday, August 10, 2012

"a person who could use... a little help"

Thanks to Paula for this graphic
As we approach our 4th birthday at and start our third year as a nonprofit I can't help but wonder. Just sometimes, I wonder but my family wonders about this often - am I actually a person who "could use... a little help"  because, as the article below states pretty clearly "... starting a business is, on its face, a little nuts." Will  massmouth,inc. be the place where storytelling meets entrepreneurship and get "rediscovered" by the dominant culture? Or is this a group delusion and I am a main perp?  In October of 2010, my family asked me to see a therapist for my condition. It was fine, nice even to have someone who had no "dog in the fight" to talk to every 10 days or so. I could express my doubts and joys without worrying about how it would make my therapist feel. But I have to be circumspect about enthusiasms and frustrations with my family. Many of my blood relations think I am as soft as a sneaker full of...mashed bananas.  I think I am not deluded - but what deluded person doesn't? Yet I have evidence  that we are creating the connections and a space where storytellers can make a living while practicing our art form.  But the "crazy" label  does not get put away that easily. This is why I read with great pleasure what the NY Times had to say about the phenomenon of the crazed entrepreneur.  I like to revisit  this article at various low points in my non remunerative journey...

Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs

"...this thought exercise hints at a truth: a thin line separates the temperament of a promising entrepreneur from a person who could use, as they say in psychiatry, a little help. Academics and hiring consultants say that many successful entrepreneurs have qualities and quirks that, if poured into their psyches in greater ratios, would qualify as full-on mental illness.

Which is not to suggest that entrepreneurs ...are crazy. It would be more accurate to describe them as just crazy enough.

“It’s about degrees,” says John D. Gartner, a psychologist and author of “The Hypomanic Edge.” “If you’re manic, you think you’re Jesus. If you’re hypomanic, you think you are God’s gift to technology investing.”

The attributes that make great entrepreneurs, the experts say, are common in certain manias, though in milder forms and harnessed in ways that are hugely productive. Instead of recklessness, the entrepreneur loves risk. Instead of delusions, the entrepreneur imagines a product that sounds so compelling that it inspires people to bet their careers, or a lot of money, on something that doesn’t exist and may never sell.

"...people will tell you that what you’re doing can’t be done, and if it could be done, someone would have done it already."

So venture capitalists spend a lot of time plumbing the psyches of the people in whom they might invest. It’s not so much about separating the loonies from the slightly manic. It’s more about determining which hypomanics are too arrogant and obnoxious — traits common to the type — and which have some humanity and interpersonal skills, always helpful for recruiting talent and raising money.

"...because starting a business is, on its face, a little nuts."

Some V.C.’s have personality tests to help them weed out the former. Others emphasize their toleration of mild forms of mania, if only because starting a business is, on its face, a little nuts.

“You need to suspend disbelief to start a company, because so many people will tell you that what you’re doing can’t be done, and if it could be done, someone would have done it already,” says Paul Maeder, a general partner at Highland Capital. “There are six billion human beings on this planet, we’ve been around for hundreds of thousands of years, we’re a couple hundred years into the industrial revolution — and nobody has done what you want to do? It’s kind of crazy.”