Unrelenting Stress

I saw this Elon Musk tweet yesterday:

What he describes in that tweet is the life of an entrepreneur. And also, to some extent, the life of a VC who cares.

The unrelenting stress is the hardest of the three in my opinion.

Stress is part of life, we all have it.

But starting and running companies brings stress that seemingly never stops.

Managing that so that it doesn’t eat you up and mess up your relationships is super hard.

Some things that I have seen work well for people are regular (daily?) workouts, eating and drinking healthy, having a coach, and most of all, having a spouse who keeps it all in check.

There is no better work, from where I sit, but it comes at a cost, particularly if you let it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    Elon is my favorite founder, bar none — ok, except I disagree with him on neural lace as the interface to control AI because I believe a better way is to get the machines towards understanding us (our language, culture and values) rather than have them working purely based on autistic logic and mechanics.In any case, everyone should carve out 6 minutes to watch this and note what DRIVES him: “No, I don’t ever give up. I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated.”And he almost cries when he talks about how hard it is to know he’s right and to fight for that — when even his heroes are against what he’s doing.https://www.youtube.com/wat

  2. jason wright

    what kind of “coach”?

    1. Twain Twain

      Not Greyhound and not this: https://uploads.disquscdn.c…In many ways, AVC community are coaches and mentors for all of us.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Don’t let that image just pass by. Instead look at it in some detail for what it says about, say, the time of horse drawn carriages and, then, that example of a horse drawn carriage and its context.E.g., when that carriage was built, nearly none of the people along the streets watching had money enough to buy even one of those hats.The carriage, the whole show, was absurdly expensive, and 90+% of the expense had nothing to do with getting a better carriage ride. Heck, no doubt today a Chevy would be much better! So, the expense was just to show off the expense.Ah, they did a better job spending as much money as possible in Vienna, e.g.,https://www.youtube.com/wat…In that video clip, the music and dancing are nice, but there is more on the architecture athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wi…So, that whole carriage scene was one big effort at domination, intimidation, subjugation, and manipulation to make the little people submissive, subservient, etc.

        1. LE

          So, that whole carriage scene was one big effort at domination, intimidation, subjugation, and manipulation to make the little people submissive, subservient, etc.Exactly true. And what I was going to say before I saw that you said it.I remember an example given of the parking lots at “mega churches”. So big they need men with headsets to get people into the parking spaces. Or maybe not. Part of the reason is to give a feeling similar to Disney and size. “Something big must be going on here”. So the scale and detail (men with headsets) add to the church branding and importance.Likewise as I have mentioned and is obvious much of religion is based on the same concept of keeping people in line with ritual and regiment.

          1. jason wright

            and that role has now long since passed to the mass media (and to some degree web monoliths like Facebook), where the family descendants of religious clerics are often found to be working. it’s no coincidence that both of Rupert Murdoch’s grandfathers were ministers in Scottish churches “tending their flock” (your ‘keeping people in line’).I don’t know if Jon Snow is known to Americans. He’s a very prominent journalist and news presenter in the UK. His father was a bishop.https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Now, with that really good lesson, we have anExercise: What is it about Saint Laureate Al Guru that let him be so effective getting so many people so wound up about sinful humans putting out CO2 to create disaster for the planet?

          3. Twain Twain

            Data is the new religion, according to Yval Noah Harari:https://www.ft.com/content/…As for Jon Snow, I have a tie like this one. It’s from the time I was experimenting with style and trying the ‘Diane Keaton look from Annie Hall’ — albeit with rainbow tie and bright-colored trilby hat instead of her more sedate and sensible black+white+brown color scheme.I am knitting a beanie but mine’s baby blue and yellow in the pattern of sea waves. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          4. jason wright

            Albert Wenger took a swipe at Harari last week.Jon Snow, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Cathy Newman, Matt Frei, and Lindsey Hilsum, are scary people.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            Yes, I’ll have to tell you this one: Dad was Presbyterian. So, we all were! In Memphis, he took us to the main Presbyterian church. It was old and had a long standing congregation.I was 6 and remember the girls my age: They were dressed in black or maroon velvet tied up with white ribbons or some such. I’d never seen any such images before, and they were striking and likely not just from the velvet but from the shoes, gloves, hair style, hats, etc. I was intimidated by the images, also because, of course, none of those girls wanted to talk to me! I always guessed that the girls were being dressed to look royal or some such. They were intimidating!Soon Dad found that he was not very welcome at that church, either. So, we didn’t join it.Well, we were not nearly the first family not to be welcome at that church, and, as a result, farther out east (the direction of post-WWII affluent expansion in Memphis) was another Presbyterian church. This one was new and physically much bigger!They had just completed the sanctuary (main building with the main room for the Sunday service with the sermon). So, they had a mortgage. Then the word was that from their routine building fund contributions, they paid off the mortgage in one year!That was a hint!They did need more parking: So, for the service on Sunday morning, cars were parked on the church grounds and also on streets around the neighborhood. The place looked like the local Cadillac-Buick dealership with nearly all the cars black!The church had a good choir and organ. So, then, at the appropriate, dramatically appropriate, place in the service, the choir and organ played the Doxology, e.g.,https://www.youtube.com/wat…That’s about the closest I could find from 50 or so versions on YouTube. At that church in Memphis, the music was more disciplined and the effect more effectively dramatic.Tellingly, for the YouTube samples, the closest were all Anglican! That sample actually has the queen!That’s a Vaughn Williams arrangement. The usual version starts with four notes starting at the tonic (in the key of C major, the tonic note is C, etc.) and then descends as in the major scale (the descending minor scale is a little different). From that church and the drama of that Doxology, that descending major scale from the tonic is burned into my brain, so much that when I was trying to teach myself violin I knew just how that part of the descending major scale was supposed to sound! So, I didn’t have to work out the notes one by one (on violin, nearly all the notes can be checked by playing on two strings and listening for beats) and, instead, just play them like I knew they were supposed to sound!With that music, the men with the offering plates came out. They were as precise as a military drill team!So, right the intended effect was dramatic and intimidating.So, that’s some of how they paid off the mortgage in just one year.

          6. LE

            A good example. In that case not only do you have all of the usual suspects of psychology but in addition you also have the brain candy that is the music messing with your judgement. That music sounds so positive and in a strange way uplifting it would make me want to give my money to the Church. The social proof of seeing others put money in an offering plate (or whatever) does so as well.The closest that I’ve seen in a synagogue is they pass around a piece of paper and you fold over the tab (which nobody sees) that shows the amount you are contributing. But there is no music playing and it’s nowhere as regal. There are steep upfront fees as well though and there are major contributors who fund the expensive stained glass windows.

          7. sigmaalgebra

            You’ve got it! You see it clearly!

  3. awaldstein

    Fred–thanks for this.It is forever one of the top of my items to manage.This life is a great one, this is a cost that comes with it.Nutrition, exercise, family are key. Nothing is really every enough.

  4. Vendita Auto

    “particularly if you let it” “I am reminded of an old tweet from Elon Musk: ‏ “People ought to think more about who wrote the software that’s running in their head (sigh). It probably wasn’t them.” I doubt it is more than 15%. Whatever the channel, the reference frame starts & ends with the brand. (your brand)”I know we all live in our own reality but at a financial level real stress is about not having enough money to survive the other stress is self imposed, Great to have the choice.

    1. Vendita Auto

      ps right now I don’t but WTF I do not walk far to turn on a tap : )

  5. Mark Annett

    I would like to point out a couple of resources for you readersThe National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255])However, if you know someone, or you yourself feeling overwhelmed, I would like to suggest listening to the podcast serious the “Hilarious World of Depression” podcast hosted by comedian John Moe https://www.apmpodcasts.org… it is an amazing show where comedians, the entrepreneurs of the entertainment world, like Dick Cavett and Andy Richter talk about living with depression.It is sponsored by http://www.MakeItOK.org, whose mission it is to make it okay to talk openly about mental illness. Note: I highly recommend starting with the very first episode and that you listen to the series from the start. Making it okay to talk about depression may save your life or the life of someone that you care about.For more information, here is the show copy”The Hilarious World of Depression: A show about clinical depression…with laughs? Well, yeah. Depression is an incredibly common and isolating disease experienced by millions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. Join guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Jen Kirkman to learn how they’ve dealt with depression and managed to laugh along the way. If you have not met the disease personally, it’s almost certain that someone you know has, whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbor. Depression is a vicious cycle of solitude and stigma that leaves people miserable and sometimes dead. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with that anymore. The Hilarious World of Depression is not medical treatment and should not be seen as a substitute for therapy or medication. But it is a chance to gain some insight, have a few laughs, and realize that people with depression are not alone and that together, we can all feel a bit better.”

    1. JLM

      .As a veteran, the issue of suicide is very troubling. I read constantly that 20+ veterans kill themselves every day. It is difficult to believe that can be true.The Veterans Administration is a shit hole of neglect. They have a suicide hotline which was sending calls to messaging — voice mail. More than 30%, they admitted to, but many think it was more than half. This has been going on for a decade.A great number of those calls were never responded to. How long does a reasonable person expect a veteran to wait for a return call from a SUICIDE HOTLINE?This is where I want to punch the face of the head of the VA until I smash it flat. [Anger issues, me. I admit it.]The new head of the VA under Trump (who was an employee of the VA) has gotten this down to fewer than 1% of VA Suicide Holine calls go to another call center — not voice mail.This is real progress, but the big question is why if it could be turned around so dramatically in just six months was it not done before?I am convinced that a smile, a friendly word, 5 minutes of conversation can dampen the flame of a potential suicide. It is why I like to talk to people, particularly veterans.The other day I was walking on the hike & bike trail in the ATX and had a five minute chat with a guy walking with an extended arm cane. I could tell he was a vet from a tattoo he had on his arm. We spoke about his service and he asked me if I had ever served. For an instant I wanted to say, “I am right now.”I didn’t say anything other than “Yes, I did. Those were great days weren’t they?”Every win on the prevention of suicide in America is a big win. It is a total win.Thanks for your comment surfacing this issue. A lot of folks are just one step from pulling that trigger.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. PhilipSugar

        I lost a fraternity brother a full bird Colonel to a suicide. Shot himself in the chest in his garage. Such a nice guy he was on the board of directors for Toys for Tots: http://www.oneillfuneralhom…Full caisson burial at Arlington with a band, he was so beloved. Full dinner at the Fort Meyer Officers Club.It was very sad.One of our three star generals from Penn that knew him for 25 years was distraught https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

        1. JLM

          .Tough deal. Tragedy. Odd at that rank. Who knows what drives men to suicide?I was looking at Lt Gen Toolan’s ribbons and noted a new medal for which I am eligible, the Korean Defense Service Medal.I had never heard of it. Apparently, it was created by GWB in 2002, long after I served.I am retroactively eligible for it as I served in Korea when I was in the combat engineers (C Co, 2nd Cbt En Bn, 2nd Inf Div). I spent a lot of time up on the DMZ looking for infiltrators, blowing up fortifications, and rebuilding fortifications. I spent a lot of time blowing mountaintops flat for firing positions and GSR (ground surveillance radar) sites.Your frat brother must have had some high awards to have been eligible to be buried in Arlington Cemetery. Arlington is sacred, consecrated ground. The air seems to taste different there. It was Robert E Lee’s families plantation before the Civil War.God speed, Marine.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. PhilipSugar

            He had CTE from the concussions of artillery which he commanded. That is why he put it in his chest.My fraternity house controlled most of the Pacific between LT General Toolan, Mark Montgomery http://www.navy.mil/navydat…And that Navy Seal Team Six Gold Assault Squadron leader who you have seen who does not have a page.Take that back he does: http://www.executivegov.com

          2. JLM

            .Penn has always had a strong Navy ROTC program. They used to work with Drexel and Temple? I think Drexel had the Army ROTC and Penn had the Navy.It has been a long time since the Vietnam War, but some of the Ivy League schools have just reinstituted ROTC.The Ivy League schools supplied a lot of officers in WWII.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. PhilipSugar

            Penn also built the first computer ENIAC which was made to calculate trajectories from artillery.

          4. pointsnfigures

            I know 15-20 people that have committed suicide.

          5. PhilipSugar

            This was the first one that I was close to and really knew.They told me I needed to get down to Arlington for the burial.I said ok, put on a suit (that is really rare for me) and went.When I got there to the service there was a person handing out cards saying if you were troubled here was a number to call (included his cell) I told him I never served he said please take the card (I was one of about 5 people out of 300 not in uniform.So now I’m wondering. I ask my Navy Seal buddy where did we lose him and he said in his garage. Huh??? Yup shot himself in the chest.Kick in the gut. I can remember calling my wife to tell her when I would be home from the officers club and she asked what happened. I could not hold back the tears. I could not rationalize.My wife’s 98 year old grandmother came home from the hospital on Sunday and is in hospice care. The loss will be tough, I’ve known her well for 25 years, but my mind can rationalize it. She isn’t going to get better and why prolong the suffering, she wants to be home. If she dies two months earlier than if she was attached to feeding tubes, respirators, dialysis machine, and IV, in a loud hospital which she was that is not really living. (that by the way is a big part that is wrong with healthcare, the hospital didn’t want to let her go and made her daughter feel guilty, I told her she did the right thing I did the same with my mother)

          6. TeddyBeingTeddy

            What’s wrong w our code if suicide is a serious thought? What other animal commits suicide? People from South America risk life and limb to get here, yet many at the top of our mountains want to jump off head first. What is wrong with humans?

          7. JLM

            .Fabulous question, no answer. There is nothing more dear than life itself.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. TeddyBeingTeddy

            The odds of being born in the US as a human being (vs any other species in any other country) are 1 in [100,000,000]? The odds of also being able to get a good education and pursue entraprenurship is even worse. We are literally the luckiest people on the planet. And life is so precious and short. It’s hard to have sympothy for those that dont see that.I’ve known people who “jumped”. They had familes. I don’t feel bad for them, they were selfish and short sighted; I feel bad for their families most of all.We truly are the smartest species and the dumbest species.

      2. LE

        As a veteran, the issue of suicide is very troubling. I read constantly that 20+ veterans kill themselves every day.It is truly unfortunate about veterans. Many are just trying to make a better life for themselves and choose military service because it provides the best opportunity for them. Or actually the only opportunity.This is actually quite different than people who choose to be an entrepreneur and are not cut out to be one. Can’t handle the stress. Not everybody can. Stop trying to be someone else.Those people have choose a lifestyle when often they have many other things they could do to earn a nice living. My point is by the time you graduate from a top college or even no college and someone is willing to write a large check to you for your startup idea, you have already cleared a hurdle that means you can probably earn a living.Honestly any young person who is fragile to the point where doing a startup has made them think about suicide probably is not in the right industry, maybe doing the wrong idea or reaching to high given their limitations.This is not the same as veterans who are suffering much more and observing much worse and that is not what they signed up for.

      3. PhilipSugar

        Oh and I agree about the VA. My wife was the first Nurse Practitioner ever at the VA she said there were things there that made her madder than mad.

    2. Joe Cardillo

      Thanks for sharing that Mark, it’s a good reminder. One of my favorite recent reads in this area might be of use to folks, too: https://pioneerspress.com/c

  6. William Mougayar

    Another hidden factor for managing stress is good/enough sleep, an often neglected virtue. (along w good nutrition of course).

    1. awaldstein

      Yup–and something i’ve learned from samthecat.https://www.instagram.com/p…Issue is that with most people, stress makes it hard to sleep that is why I think nutrition, exercise and specific goals make that more possible.

    2. JamesHRH

      Sleep is the foundation. Willpower & attitude to do other core elements well disappear when you are truly sleep deprived.

      1. JLM

        .Sleep is just practicing to be dead. Don’t worry we will all be good at being dead.The only flaw with life is that candles only have two ends.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. harris497

          I often hear this sentiment about sleep and death, and it fills me with disbelief. Truly intelligent people realize that sleep is necessary. To suggest otherwise is bravado typical of the insecure.

          1. JLM

            .I know Jimmy above, harris497. I enticed him into moving to Texas from Calgary.It was a little joke. We often joke with each other.On the other hand, there is nobody on the planet more “insecure” and less “truly intelligent” than me.Thanks for the reminder with the side of judgement.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. harris497

            JLM, you have a good sense of humor. I usually enjoy reading your opinion even though most times it differs from mine. You make me think…

          3. JLM

            .Thank you, harris497. I fear I take myself a little too seriously at times.Thinking is good. Keep it up. I am addicted to it.Thanks.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. Vendita Auto

          and one wick : )

      2. William Mougayar


      3. Joe Cardillo

        Agree w/you and William – for me the hard part has always been recognizing when I’ve hit that line where getting things done has passed along the keys to being stressed, sleep deprived, etc.

    3. cavepainting

      I understand why Elon and Fred are stressed out, but please let us not blow it out of proportion. These are clear-eyed choices they have made. Yes, it needs to be managed, but increased stress is a conscious trade-off when you want to do big things and have a meaningful impact on the world.The stress we need to be really worried about at a societal level are the soldiers with PTSD, the single Mom who cannot make ends meet, the unemployed blue collar worker, etc. What can we do to take some of that stress away? The stress of people with sound minds, healthy bodies, and meaningful lives is important, but not in any way equivalent to the stress of broken people dealing with poverty, discrimination, trauma, etc.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Finally giving into this. More or less.

  7. pointsnfigures

    http://www.thejuntoinstitut… is a way to learn how to help your company manage it. Being self employed since 1986 and basically, one bad move away from total financial destruction I get it.It’s far more stressful to be a CEO of a startup than it is a VC. I was talking to someone who wanted to get into VC. It all looks glamorous and easy from the outside. I asked if they ever invested money into something they had no control over and lost it all. Told them to put $50k into a company and lose it and then see how they feel.

    1. JamesHRH

      Your comment that all self employed people feel this stress is a good one – the stress is less glamourous.

    2. fredwilson

      That’s why I added “who cares” at the end of my comment about VCs. The easier way is to just invest and make it all about money. The minute you let it be personal the stress transfers over and you feel it too

      1. pointsnfigures

        Yup, your bottom line isn’t your self worth; or your net worth isn’t your self worth

    3. LE

      one bad move away from total financial destruction I get it.Probably the equivalent in a small business is ‘losing the big customer’. That is what you obsess over. The customer that took you years to get. You fear losing them and disappointing them. You fear what might happen if they discover an alternative and go elsewhere because you didn’t deliver.I remember when years ago I was at an affair (wedding) and at our table was a guy roughly my age (30’s) who owned the catering company. I was amazed at how relaxed he was given that catering is so important to having a nice affair. I said ‘wow how can you just sit there so relaxed? It’s as if you are just another guest’He said ‘well you just have to trust your bellman!’. (I think that is what he called the person who was a much much older black man that essentially ran the show and had worked for his father for years).But you know what? He didn’t start the company. He didn’t work to get in with the synagogue and be one of the 2 or 3 caterers allowed there. His father or grandfather did. Easy come easy go. He had no fear. He could sit there relaxed. He could ‘trust his bellman’. He hadn’t built the business. He didn’t even know how close he came to losing that account. He didn’t ever worry what would happen if the ‘bellman’ got sick and didn’t show up because it never happened and he hadn’t even been around long enough (think his father had died recently) to see it happen with competitors.

  8. Tom Labus

    No matter what you do, run, yoga, lift weights, stress comes back. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and sometimes actually benign. It can fire ya up and can eat you alive. But it always wins in the end.

    1. Austin

      Wayne Dyer…now departed…had a well-known mentor, Deepak Chopra. Whenever Wayne got stressed out (and he had 8 kids…so there’s that), he’d go to Deepak and describe the situation specifics, always of course ‘different.’Deepak’s universal, uniform reply in all the drama: “Med-i-tate.”

      1. Tom Labus

        I wish I learned how to do that. I’m sure it would have helped a lot.

  9. JamesHRH

    Unrelenting stress exists in mon-startup world too.Responsibility breeds stress but generates fulfilment & financial reward.The more you can handle the more you receive.

  10. Howard Mann

    For me, what he is describing is life. Not simply entrepreneurial life, but life for anyone striving to do anything. Incredible highs, moments of severe stress and incredible lows. I know, first hand, the entrepreneurial journey can be this.What impacted me most about his tweet is that nobody likes to talk about the stress and the lows. We think it is not interesting to hear about the failures and the stress in work and life. Wrong! We do not ask others to tell us those stories because they are harder to hear. This is where we fail them and ourselves.Ironically, the lows and the stress are more interesting than the highs. See what happens when someone gets to vent about what really troubles them and you will both be forever changed.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Great comment.>We think it is not interesting to hear about the failures and the stress in work and life. Wrong! We do not ask others to tell us those stories because they are harder to hear. This is where we fail them and ourselves.I think the reason why people don’t want to hear those stories is because many people are looking for a quick fix – a get-rich-quick solution – so the “I was an overnight success in ‘only’ 10 years” type of story scares them off. They prefer to hear the “I was an overnight success, really almost overnight (i.e. in a few months or a year” type of story (which are more common) – maybe because they think that with a bit of luck by making all the right “moves”, they too can become like that.And of course the tech (and other) media caters plenty to that kind of wishful reader, which helps with page views and ad revenue.

  11. Thor Snilsberg

    Thanks Elon. Nobody wants to talk about last two but that is where the most informative lessons are.Thanks Fred. Good formula for managing stress. Other interests and hobbies are also key for me. I’m not a great meditator but shooting hoops will still chill me out. Reading history works. Doing art with my kids. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just time to let my brain breathe.

  12. Richard

    The challenge of VC and Oncology is that most of your patients die. Both need to focus on their successes to make it through the day. Though technically not VCs and entrepreneurs, Charlie Munger and Watren Buffet are amazing examples of how to deal with stress

  13. JLM

    .If you are living in a world in which people will invest money to fund your passionate vision, get down on your knees — RIGHT NOW — and say ten minutes of prayers for the good fortune that is your life.If you are living in the USA, with its organized funding mechanism and fabulous bankruptcy laws, then your prayers should be extended to fifteen minutes. [If you live in Texas, then it’s half an hour. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!]What Fred is describing is the friction of life — not just for entrepreneurs, but for everyone — which is how we smooth things out. It takes friction to smooth the roughness of life.Do not curse the friction. Celebrate it. Seek it. Test yourself and in that testing find out who you are.We are all a bunch of platitudes until we see the price tag for our “values.” We are all waterboys until we get in the game and take a hit.Turn stress into fuel, rocket fuel. We are fueled by the slings, arrows, slights, and doubts of others. The most powerful driver of success in history is being told, “Hell, you can’t do that. That will never work.”Be strong. Be brave. Be engaged. Never, ever, ever give up. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.Stress is a blessing, not a curse.Get some.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Austin

      Will schedule a half-hour in today. Life is good…in Austin.

      1. JLM

        .You get a 15 minute credit, @disqus_j5NoQRnYJL:disqus, if you eat at Green Mesquite BBQ on Barton Springs Road. Do NOT tell anyone else.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Say someone was born in the US in 1850. Then hopefully they had a successful first 9 months and a successful birth, e.g., head out first and not starved for oxygen. Then look at what they faced: Daily threat of a minor injury that could lead to a fatal infection. Daily threats of serious injury, e.g., kicked by a horse, falling off a horse and hitting head on a rock, when trying to cut down a tree being hit by the falling tree, etc. Maybe they got into steam — then the darned things commonly exploded. Okay, by 1861 there was the Civil War, and there their house and farm might have been destroyed (e.g., all the animals killed) or they might have been killed. Then there were the indian wars they might have participated in. Then the crash of, when was it that Morgan bailed out the country, 1890. Then the typhoid epidemic of, what was it, 1903. Then WWI. When the soldiers from WWI went home, they carried about the worst flu virus ever and caused about the worst epidemic ever. Then in 1929, the stock market crash which for about 12 years seriously hurt (physically, emotionally) a huge fraction of the whole US population (dumb economists). Sure, we got out of the Great Depression in 90 days flat when people began shooting at us, but that was the start of WWII. A lot of US citizens (e.g., merchant marine) and solders died in that war. Somewhere in there was polio. Then the Korean War.Tough 100 years.So, there were wars, economic depressions, and epidemics. Also there were natural disasters, hurricanes, earthquakes., blizzards, etc.We’re lucky now.But now, marriage rates are falling, divorce rates are rising, and the really low birth rate is having us go extinct, but not from 1850 to 1950. Why not? Guess: From 1850 to 1950, times were so difficult that a couple really needed each other.

  14. kidmercury

    i saw first sentence in my feed reader and thought this post would be about fred jumping into the zuck/musk beef over AI. fred, feel free to jump in and squash this beef once and for all!

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t even know what you are talking about

      1. kidmercury

        article below (also covered on recode, techcrunch, etc) but to summarize zuckerberg was asked what he thought of musk saying AI was dangerous, zuck said it was irresponsible to say things like that because AI is awesome and will save lives and such, musk one upped the diss and said zuck’s understanding of AI was superficial. tech media went on to have a field day with the billionaire beefhttps://www.theatlantic.com…

        1. LE

          In this beef, and not that I am a musk fanboy, I give it to Elon. Because honestly Zuckerberg has probably done more to harm society. As a result of people being able to see things others are doing that mess with their own happiness. It’s kind of a version of what people felt was wrong with women’s magazines and female body image issues.Ditto for those industry publications which stir the pot creating superheroes out of people in tech.

          1. cavepainting

            exactly. No question that Facebook has made the world far worse. He might have wanted to connect the world and connect he did, but made everyone worse off in terms of their own happiness.This is not a politically correct line to use in the Valley but it is unquestionably true.Zuck is the last guy to trust on humanity, AI’s impact on the world, etc. Not that he might not know or has bad intent, but the lens he uses to see the world is fundamentally at odds with human nature.

          2. jason wright

            nor economically ‘correct’.Zuckerberg (i will not use the ‘Zuck’ diminutive. i am no acolyte)) has built a Xanadu. I will not live in it.

      2. I am spirit

        Hello Mr. Wilson, are you the owner of Disqus Disqus? If you are I need to discuss a few things with you.SINCERELYI am spirit

  15. Dorian Benkoil

    @fredwilson:disqus Dreams and sleep are affected, though have managed them better over time. I find the things you say help manage it, but have not found the complete cure for sometimes waking up at 3 a.m., mind-racing over a particular concern.

  16. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    People talk of entrepreneurs jumping off a cliff and constructing a plane on the way down.The image is wrong :Watching some finches in my garden learning to fly I thought “how entrepreneurial” :1) Fall – bounce – climb2) Fall, flap, bounce – avoid cat – climb faster3) Fall, flap, fall-slower, bounce – climb (with flapping)Repeat 3 {while not flying}4) Fall a bit , flap a lot , fly badly – fly better (find food + partner), make nest, eggs etc ….IterateWhether up or down – The stress is continual – but some learn to fly and some mentor !

    1. JLM

      .When one learns to fly an airplane, a day comes when your instructor tells you to pull up in front of the FBO. He tells you, “Today is the day.”He gets out and you are left with only yourself and the plane.You have flown that pattern a hundred times. You have taken off and landed in perfect balance (Pro tip: Keep the number of takeoffs and landings even.]You have spoken to the Unicom or the tower and you know what to say, but you have always had company in the right seat and you have always known if you really screw up, the instructor will say, “I have the flight controls.”You are in a cocoon of safety until you are not.Still, there is something about that moment. You make five takeoffs and landings and park the plane at the hangar. The guy who gets out of that plane, that time, is different and you can never, ever go back to being the former person. Ever.Your instructor takes your tee shirt and cuts out the front or back (where there is no printing) and writes down the date, the time, the location, the airplane number, and his name. He shakes your hand and hands the tee shirt to you.You can put the tee shirt on a wall somewhere or you can take it home and put it in a desk in your office where it reminds you that you learned how to do something dangerous. Well. Something that not everybody in the world knows how to do.From that moment on, you are capable of flying solo. Now, when you practice cross country flight, the instructor sends you somewhere 75 miles away and says, “Come back with the plane and a bit of printed matter establishing that you actually arrived there.”You get better and better at it until you almost cannot remember flying with the instructor. When you have 3000 hours flying Bonanzas cross country in all kinds of weather, you become confident, but you never forget that day when it really started. You take out that shirt and look at it. You smell it.It smells like fear because you were once afraid and now you are not.We are all learning to fly solo every day of our lives. That’s the way it is supposed to be.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. David Gobel

        thanks for the poetry 🙂

      2. PhilipSugar

        Yes. I have my cutout t shirt. What an eloquent way of putting it.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      A problem can arise when you perhaps climb higher than you realize and feel the fall will kill you, no bounce – as we’re not in The Matrix.

  17. VincentWright

    OR the good Mr. Elon Musk could get a better handle on processing his *unrelenting stress* by taking a 3, 4, 7-day mini-vacation as an “unemployable”, yet, workaholic minority and see if that juxtaposition wouldn’t immediately make him jump for joy as high as possible as soon as he’s re-granted the chance to get back into this very moment which apparently is overly-stressing him and his good soul.(For a person with above-average resources, “unrelenting stress” is inexcusably stupid.It’s just cognitive stupidity residing within the same cranium as entrepreneurial genius.It takes entrepreneurial genius to conceive of and deliver what Elon Musk has delivered.It takes cognitive stupidity to *not* process the “unrelenting stress”.As with any other thing we can conceive of as an “object|target|thing”, stress can be *PROCESSED*.And wouldn’t it be great to put intellectual genius to work in building reliable stress management SYSTEMS to help process stress which affects each and every one of us … including entrepreneurial genius?)#UnrelentingStressWithOptions ≠ #UnrelentingStressWithoutOptions #TradingPlaces #ProcessTheStress

  18. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Maybe, for most entrepreneurs, there’s a belief that they can fix anything if they’re in charge. So the stress really is less than if they aren’t in charge. I know that’s the case for me.

    1. LE

      Agree there is often a need to feel that you are working toward a solution and doing so (without regard to if you actually are) and that effort makes you feel better and thereby relieves stress.Here is a related theory that I have.You know when someone goes missing and their parents or others search all night to try and find them? Maybe even for weeks? Even though there is practically zero chance that that search or effort makes sense or will pay off?They do this because doing so relieves stress by making them feel they are working toward a goal even if the effort honestly doesn’t make any sense. It also puts them in a zone and takes their mind off their worries. Which wouldn’t happen if they just sat there and did nothing.So in short in both cases (one you mention, one my example) you are lessening the FUD-A (fear uncertainty doubt anxieity) by doing your part to work toward a solution to a problem. Which is much better than doing nothing (and having your mind “FUD” go all over the place).

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I so get this.

    3. pointsnfigures

      Control vs no control! I think you hit the nail on the head for a lot of people.

  19. LE

    Some things that I have seen work well for people are regular (daily?) workouts, eating and drinking healthy, having a coach, and most of all, having a spouse who keeps it all in check.The truth is that some people simply aren’t cut out for the life they have chosen (or that has been chosen for them). As the line in “Dirty Harry” went ‘a man has to know his limitations’.And Elon talking about stress? Here you have someone who has decided to do multiple things more than any ‘normal’ person would choose to do. ‘Made his bed’ His ego and quest for fame and fortune honestly make’s the Presidents appear small by comparison. Sure we need to feel sorry for him like we do a celebrity who complains about attention and paparazzi. What did you think would happen? having a spouse who keeps it all in checkSomething to consider prior to getting engaged or married. Will the person I am with understand my lifestyle? Or will he or she ‘hock’ me and try to drag me from it or make me feel guilty for not spending more time with the family or doing what she/he sees others are able to do? (When they don’t know the reason for that). That actually super important and quite often ignored. The right partner is not necessarily the person who enjoys the same pastimes as you do. That’s a small part of life.https://www.youtube.com/wat

  20. LE

    and most of all, having a spouse who keeps it all in check.I would not want to state this as some universal truth but any woman that I have ever been with (dated, married or observed in other relationships) has not cared to hear any of the downside of what is going on in business or problems and so on. I don’t mean they won’t listen. They will of course. I mean you can tell that they don’t want to hear negatives or excuses or blame. I have always attributed this to some kind of teleological basis (and I hope that is the right word) whereby back in pre-historic times a woman didn’t want to find out that another man got to the animal first and that her family wasn’t going to eat. So any excuses or problems simply meant ‘we will not eat tonight’. Even if that is not the case because you have enough money in the bank and other trappings or food and so on (in modern times of course).Men on the other hand might tend to whine and want the woman to be like their mommy. Putting medicine on their skinned knee to make them feel better. See the problem here?There is obviously a balance that is needed between keeping one’s spouse informed, so they can be helpful and provide support, and using them as a crutch in a way that simply gives them anxiety and doubt or makes them worry about their future.

    1. Twain Twain

      Cool, I just added “teleological” to my knowledge base, thanks!

  21. PhilipSugar

    There is no better work. I would not trade it for anything.

    1. LE

      How many weeks a year do you travel? That is what my Uncle liked when he was in business with my dad. I suspect that is a large part of why you enjoy what you do.At my Uncle’s funeral they talked about how he was treated when he went to other countries on a buying mission. It was as if he was a visiting dignitary. [1] Part of the (over the top BS eulogy) was that people would come ‘just to meet the man’. And particularly sad that my Uncle’s grandchildren never mentioned my Dad’s role in the starting and running the company (or what he taught his nephew, their father) which was prior to when they were born. Was as if he didn’t even exist.[1] Show me a narcissus and I will show you someone who has probably has potentially never suffered from any depression because they are able to invent things that keep them happy that stray far from reality. (Really believe this in part..)

      1. PhilipSugar

        I travel for the day not the week. I go to London and do not get a hotel room. I spend less than 48 hours in places like Sydney.100 nights a year, but most in the air.When I missed dropping my kids off at the first day of school last year the headmistress asked where is your Dad? He always drops you off? My son said he got called last night and had to go to LA for the day. Did not compute. She asked my daughter. Same answer. Asked my wife at car line because she thought something was up.Answer: I got called at 4pm took the 6am next day to LA got in at 9am, took my meeting and caught the 2pm home.

  22. sigmaalgebra

    === Getting a Cake Walk and Avoiding StressApparently back onThursday, July 27th, 2017 the topic at AVC was Startup Churn athttp://avc.com/2017/07/star…with startups are no cake walk. There athttp://avc.com/2017/07/star…I posted For my startup, I’m not seeing that. My startup looks like a cake walk to me.For a given startup, the probability of project success estimated just by taking a simple average from all observable startups as in the data here means essentially nothing. Instead what is meaningful is the conditional probability of success given (in probability theory) events, i.e., in more common language, circumstances, data, etc. that apply for the startup in question. Now today the topic is Unrelenting Stress.Similarly, I’m not seeing that either.To clarify: All the work for my startup has been fast, fun, and easy with all the results so far just as planned. But there have been independent, unpredictable, exogenous interruptions that did slow the work, but those interruptions were not caused by the work of the startup and would have happened no matter what I was doing.If you are gardening and get a drought, then that slows the work, but the drought would have happened whether or not you were gardening, and you did nothing wrong in your gardening to cause the drought.Yes, this analogy fails because gardening is especially vulnerable to droughts! But my startup was not especially vulnerable to the interruptions I encountered!For how to make the work a “cake walk” and how to avoid “unrelenting stress”, in short, design the work to have some strong approaches to success that yield a cake walk and little or no stress.Here’s how I’ve done that. In short I did some planning. Or, vast plans with half-vast planning can lead to trying to carry 10 pounds in a five pound bag and unrelenting stress and no cake walk.For what I did in more detail is:(1) Problem Selection.For success, quite generally, good problem selection is important.I picked a problem so far solved at best poorly where maybe 3+ billion people would very much like a good solution.(2) Solution.I found an excellent solution to the problem, in particular the first good solution.(3) Software.Yes, some significant software is needed to deliver the solution to users, so I had to design and write the software. But I have a good background in software, with a lot of successes, believed that I could routinely, cake walk, low or no stress, design and write the software and get it to run as intended. I was right and did that.There was some disappointment: In the end, getting the basic information on Microsoft’s .NET and SQL server was mud wrestling. The work was something like cleaning out the barn, no fundamental difficulties but a lot of not very pleasant work.So, I had to find, download, read, abstract, and index 5000+ Web pages of documentation, nearly all from Microsoft’s MSDN Web site. Okay, I did that. So, right, at even 20 pages a day, we’re talking, gads, 250 days. Unpleasant and disappointing? Yes. Stressful from being a fundamental threat to the project? No. A cake walk with stale corn bread instead of Sacher Torte!People tend not to see what I did for(1) Problem Selection.If reminded, they can begin to see the problem, but they tend not to see the problem on their own or very well because they don’t see any possibility of a solution.The situation is a little like what supposedly Henry Ford said:If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.So Ford saw the problem and its importance, but only a small fraction of other people did. IMHO the reason others didn’t see the problem was that they didn’t see, didn’t, say, envision, a solution.For the problem I have selected, actually, the more people know about computing, the more they believe that they should be able to see at least an outline of a solution; but still they can’t so that, curiously, the more people know about computing, the less eager they are to see the problem!So, really, for others, sometimes the bottleneck in seeing a problem is seeing at least an outline of a solution. So, then, the key to my work has been(2) Solution.So, maybe the work for a solution would be not a cake walk and would be unrelenting stress?Nope! Instead, the work has been fast, fun, and easy!Why? Because the crucial, enabling core of my solution is some original applied math I created. The basic idea took me only, say, an afternoon. That was fast. Some more afternoons clarified, made more exact, and polished the work. Done. Cake walk. No stress.But, stress alert!!! The solution might not work???? Not much chance of that! Why? The solution is in terms of theorems and proofs, by an astronomically wide margin, the highest quality work with the best guarantees of correctness in civilization.E.g., for that asteroid coming within 4000 miles of earth in October, how do we have confidence in the 4000 miles? Sure, applied math, now all solidly based on theorems and proofs based on, in part, say,W. Rudin, Principles of Mathematical Analysis.and that’s much more solid than any granite or diamond.More details are in, say,Earl A. Coddington and Norman Levinson, Theory of Ordinary Differential Equations, McGraw-Hill, New York.rock solid and not nearly new.Much easier to read and more than needed for tracking asteroids isEarl A. Coddington, An Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.also rock solid and not nearly new.Appropriate theorems and proofs are good things!Basically, if the work in(2) Solution.and(3) Software.is correct, then the results for the users will do well solving the problem in(1) Problem Selection.where, again, maybe 3+ billion people would very much like a good solution.Since the architecture of the software and server farm are especially efficient and scalable, the result should be a lot of user traffic, a lot of ad revenue, and a successful business.Sure, it might flop, but so might nearly everything in life except math theorems with solid proofs!So, get the math and the software correct, and the rest for success should be routine and as already done successfully by some millions of Web sites.So, it’s planned and intended to be a cake walk and with low stress and so far has been.But, if don’t know the math — and my contribution is original and stands on quite a lot of advanced pure/applied math — then, sure, the solution for my startup would be no cake walk and unrelenting stress.For an example, leading up to Gulf War I, IIRC former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara fervently testified as athttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pag…ROBERT MacNAMARA: The point is it’s going to be bloody! There are going to be thousands and thousands and thousands of casualties! Well, for Iraq, that was correct. But for the coalition led by General Norman Schwarzkopf, as athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wi…the results were about 482 killed, 458 wounded among all of the coalition The difference? Schwarzkopf knew very well how to solve his problem, and McNamara didn’t have even as much as a weak little hollow hint of a tiny clue how to solve his.So, in comparison Schwarzkopf had a cake walk and McNamara had unrelenting stress. Simple.=== Threats of StressCommonly high stress over an extended time can lead to the anxiety diseases paranoia, hysteria, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and social phobia, and, then, to depression. The depression can hurt ability to work, cause more stress, and lead to clinical depression. Clinical depression can be debilitating and life threatening.Sleep and exercise can help alleviate depression.These are big matters, not small.I have not suffered from anxiety or the rest, but my wife did, and it was fatal.So, I had to learn about the above the hard way, paying “full tuition” (@JLM).FromDavid V. Sheehan, M.D., The Anxiety Disease, ISBN 0-553-25568-1, Bantam Books, Toronto.across continents, cultures, etc., anxiety disease is four times more common in human females than in human males.So, be careful. Be very careful.

  23. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:The continuous Mantra is sleep, sleep, sleep.We say BS. Those of us being truthful and honest to ourselves who have others dependent upon our generating income don’t receive the eight plus hours always promoted.If we receive more than five to six hours Monday thru Friday we are doing good. (Living our truth and enjoying reality)Those among us who are independently wealthy the norm or suggested and recommended doesn’t apply to you. You have made it and have the F U money in the bank.We enjoy viewing the exception used as the rule.The reality of the ultra successful sleep routines and time.http://www.huffingtonpost.c

  24. adamludwin

    Another important factor: only work on something you care deeply about. Elon said the same thing in one of his replies.

  25. george

    Unrelenting stress applies to just about any really good leader who has a vision or takes her mission seriously…

  26. Donna Brewington White

    Learning to drive on the ice in the Midwest we were taught to turn into the skid. Counterintuitive but works.As an entrepreneur it seems that rather than avoiding what causes stress we must press into those things, e.g., taking greater risks, pursuing ideas that require even more of a stretch, etc.

  27. Arturo D. Gentili

    I am “young” entrepreneur(38), I want get into mediation strongly, for long time but never can find myself in a period of calm waters long enough to give it the time It needs.But I always wonder, how I will keep my ambitions, energy to fix the problems if I reach some level of spirituality where all this I am going after is not important?I think there is conflict between both of these concepts, entrepreneurship and meditation.