Monday, February 4, 2008

How to deal with adversity, in life and at a startup

I am a huge Boston sports fan, and since I moved to the Bay Area this past August I've continued to religiously follow the Boston teams. In fact, when I couldn't find a local Patriots fan club here in the East Bay I decided to organize one! The East Bay New England Patriots Meetup group was launched on September 9th, the eve of the first game vs. the NY Jets, and has now grown to about 45 members. See our group here: It's been a great way to meet other people who are as passionate about the Patriots as I am. And it was real fun for 18 games and about 59 minutes of the 19th game. But alas, the NY Giants did to the Patriots what we've gotten used to the Patriots doing to everyone else in recent years: pulling out a last second win in the Super Bowl. I also coach my daughter's 5th/6th grade basketball team. We won our first 3 games (all by double digits), but on Saturday after taking a sizeable lead we were outscored 14-2 in the last few minutes and lost. So not a great weekend for the O'Brien family (and it rained all weekend, too!).

My children (ages 11 and 9) were extremely upset after the Super Bowl loss last night (and my daughter was majorly ticked off after her basketball game loss), but it was a good opportunity to teach them about how to deal with loss. The lesson is that whether it's sports, or school, or business, or whatever else you might try in life, sometimes things don't go exactly as planned. So you can sit and dwell on it, or you can pick yourself up and move forward. Winners bounce back by using the experience to improve. Winners face adversity head on. Losing makes you tougher, and after you've experienced a loss it makes winning feel that much sweeter! I moved to the Bay Area last August from Massachusetts because I wanted to join an early stage startup to experience the satisfaction of growing a company from almost no revenues to something extremely successful. We've made great progress, but every day I have to tell myself the same lessons I am teaching my children about how to pick yourself up after you've been knocked down. Life at a startup is not easy. But you have to approach every day as a new challenge, and believe that if you persevere you will eventually be a winner.

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