entrepreneurship, Failure, Lessons Learned

Where are we now? A message from the present.

This post is from the present me in response to the recent automated message in a bottle from last year. Thank you for the heartwarming responses, and remember – that message was FROM LAST YEAR. This one is from the present.

Hello world,

I’m doing surprisingly well.

Today is July 2014, and I find myself at the end of my regular free open office hours at Startplatz in Cologne, reflecting on what happened in the year since I wrote a message to my future self from Silicon Valley.

Today, I should be happy.  And grateful.

Yes. One year later and still here.

And I am.

To wit:

  • I’ve filled the last EUR 35K (USD 50K) outstanding in personal debt my last bootstrapped startup left me in the hole
    By founding a new company +ANDERSEN & ASSOCIATES consulting global F100s on innovation and growth through entrepreneurship and science. (Not including the hundreds of thousands Euros in forsaken salary along the ride. Better chalk that loss up as the cost of educating my ass).
  • There is (obviously) no warrant for my arrest anymore
    As I had to clear that one off the books before I traveled to the Bay Area last summer, lest I have a fun bout of detention & expulsion.
  • All outstanding credit card debt paid (see above)
    And I have opted to stay without credit cards for now, instead providing a positive baseline cash flow by helping corporations innovate on the side
  • All outstanding FFF debt repaid (see above)
    If there’s something I’ve learned, taking money from friends and family changes the relationship. Even if it’s “just a loan” or “I-can-afford-to-lose-it money”- so be advised.
  • Contract and payment from my F100 customer materialized –  after seven months
    The lessons I re-learned? Working with global F100s is not a game to play when you need the money. Although I knew this all too well already from my salary-man days working with these glacial behemoths. Yes, catch 22 is a bitch.
  • The person near and dear to me checked out of the mental institution and is doing fine
    Our mental health is a fickle thing. Even the strongest has a breaking point. I’m grateful for keeping it somewhat together until now and I hope I will never journey beyond my own event horizon.
  • These days I feel about 90% recovered from my past startup failure depression
    I think it’s safe to say I’ve reached Stage 6 some time ago and will be 101% recovered once I clear out everything and finish my blog post series of what I learned from that experience. So stay with me.
  • Yes, my perfect apartment with my perfect office in the perfect area got sold. And not to me.
    And the new owner tried to pull a fast one on me. But I’m legally still very much living and working in it. For legal reasons, enough said.
  • The on and off self-medication by way of alcohol has been discontinued
    It just couldn’t continue. I’ve been a good boy, with the exception of a single relapse at SxSW this year (at Snoop’s party, where I lost my iPhone – later miraculously found and returned – people found it entertaining and a funny story, although I only felt very disappointed with myself) and another single incident this summer, I’ve stayed away from alcohol – as some of you people have been noticing.

And there are still some other stuff, but that’s not worth talking about right now. Because who doesn’t have stuff to deal with? All things considered, who am I to complain right now.

For the future, I’ll know “that high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back” was the moment I started reacting more to the world than causing reactions in it; That, my friend, is when the time has come to stop whatever it is you’re doing, gather your bearings and change the course.

Thankfully, shame is a concept I’ve never known nor understood. All I can say is what doesn’t kill you, doesn’t kill you. I dug a deep hole and journeyed into it.

But then I dug myself back out.

They say experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. As I’m ready to go at it again, I guess you could say I’ve either learned a lot – or nothing at all.

If someone asks me why – in spite of everything – I’ll still keep trying, my answer is, at the very least to write posts like these.

Only time will tell.

I’ll keep trying.

I’ll keep sharing.

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