Cameron Herold is an inspirational guy. He is a totally out-of-the-box thinker and a business coach to successful entrepreneurs all over the world. Cameron’s reason for getting out of bed in the morning is to help entrepreneurs and in his Paper Napkin Wisdom he seeks to help us understand the entrepreneurial roller-coaster.
The highs and lows of an entrepreneur
Cameron believes that 95% of entrepreneurial CEOs exhibit traits of manic depression (or bi-polar disorder). Our journey as entrepreneurs is full of highs and lows that can make us think we’re absolutely mad but Cameron says that we’re not crazy, we’re just entrepreneurs. There is a pattern of high and lows, he says, and that is the roller coaster.
The roller coaster consists of roughly four stages: Uninformed Optimism, Informed Pessimism, Crisis of Meaning, and Hopeful Realism/Informed Optimism.
Uninformed Optimism is that period where we’re excited about what we’re building, but we don’t really know how hard it’s going to be or the challenges that face us. Informed Pessimism is the other side of that; it’s when we have the ‘Oh shit’ moment. That moment when you have enough information to realize that things are going to be tougher than you thought. It’s this moment that brings us to the Crisis of Meaning; the time when you feel paralyzed, it’s hard to think clearly and hard to get out of bed. It’s the time you need to re-charge your battery. Getting through the Crisis of Meaning is key because it’s once you get through that period that you reach Hopeful realism/Informed Optimism. That’s the time when you have a relatively clear view of what the situation is, you’ve got insight, and you’re optimistic.
It’s a reoccurring pattern, says Cameron, and it’s one we can’t really escape because it applies to all experiences. It isn’t a problem we can solve, it’s a system that happens and it’s up to us to manage it. It’s also up to us to share and explain this pattern to those closest to us. As entrepreneurs, we operate a little differently than most people. “We are different,” says Cameron “but we’re supposed to be.” If we explain this pattern to our spouse, our teams, we can alleviate tension and avoid confusion. If those closest to us know and understand our pattern, they can understand what’s happening and support us through that. Each stage has its own dangers and if we have people around us who understand that, they can help us avoid the pitfalls we might otherwise fall into.
“We are different, but we’re supposed to be.”
As Cameron tells us how we can work through this pattern, he reminds us that we have a choice in how we react to this roller coaster. Being an entrepreneur is a one-way ticket, he says. There is no getting off the roller coaster, so we might as well understand it. Are you going to scream in fear, or are you going to put your arms in the air and wave them like you just don’t care?
Listen to my conversation with Cameron here: