#31 Are Entrepreneurs Really Crazy? Escaping: The Vortex.

Enter: THE VORTEX. (click here) Prior to the semi-calm and orderly exchange pasted below, I entered what I called “the vortex.” This means I was nuts.  The Hot Mommas Project process is based on nominating dynamic women over the age of 18 to act as role models through writing their stories. Thus, I nominated women, re-nominated women, sent reminder emails, got the team to send reminder emails…the list goes on. This was all because of my passion for my project (combined with an inability to accept failure and a kind of control-freakishness). It was a gravitational pull.

The VORTEX IS REAL. It turns out, that many entrepreneurs literally do suffer from a kind  “Hypomania.” Only, because it makes people money, we celebrate it and call it “drive” and “persistence.”

Below, I deconstruct the VORTEX and explain how I escaped it. This was yesterday, however.

1. The situation (no, not my abs) If this pop culture reference escapes you – click here. Last night at midnight the second annual Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition came to an end. Today, we are playing clean up on some technical errors on the site.

What I want/deserve/should be doing: Watching Lady Gaga and Elton John’s Grammy performance as a reward for hitting nearly 200 case studies and – officially – being the world’s largest women’s case study database!

What I doing instead: Sending nerdy emails – like the following- because I am an obsessed entrepreneur. It’s a problem. Below, I not only address the current issue at hand, I start speculating about the future, the team that will get together, and roles. I’m thinking, “Can’t I just CHILL for ONE DAY?”

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Cast of Characters: “Dave” – Dave Juth, our developer at FMS Inc. , “Achin”Achin Jain our Learning Community Manager (in India), “Luke” Luke Chung – owner of FMS Inc.

Dave,

THE WOMEN HAVE ROCKED IT OUT!!! Our second annual case study competition ended last night. We are almost up to 200 cases now and officially the world’s largest women’s case study library. I was wondering about using FMS’s site, again, for judging. Thoughts?  Here is what Achin says:

“It would be nice to see whether Dave would let us use FMS server again for judging. Tell him that I will send him the database file whenever we are done fixing the technical errors and ready to move to the judging phase. He will just have to do a copy and paste job.”

Tell me if I need to ask Luke about this. Overdue, anyway, to talk to him (see PS)

Kathy

P.s. For LATER, planting seeds:

I also now have a list of things we need to fix, update, etc. and need to have a conversation with Luke.

Looking ahead, I was wondering – also – about including in our meeting some social media guys as experts to say “this will work, this won’t, this will be better for SEO and communities and mobile apps” and yada yada. I need to figure out what is possible for Achin to do, and what FMS needs to do, as we move forward.

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3. So, Are We REALLY CRAZY? Well in looking over this, I skipped #2, and am too lazy to go back and fix it. So, that’s not a great sign. A book by John Gartner on the topic of nutty entrepreneurs has the following quote:

Hypomania–a mild form of mania–drove many of America’s most famous leaders and entrepreneurs to succeed.

4. UH, OKAY, MAYBE THE VORTEX JUST = CRANKINESS. I read VCMike’s blog, I realize I bear almost NONE of the traits of hypomania. Here they are:

  • pressured speech; rapid talking
  • inflated self-esteem or grandiosity;
  • decreased need for sleep;
  • flight of ideas or the subjective experience that thoughts are racing;
  • easy distractibility and attention-deficit (superficially similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder);
  • increase in psychomotor agitation; and
  • involvement in pleasurable activities that may have a high potential for negative psycho-social or physical consequences (e.g., the person engages in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)

I do tend to have a racing mind. But, that’s about it. So, basically my nuttiness was not leading to a grandiose entrepreneurial success. It’ s just nuttiness.  Time to ESCAPE THE VORTEX.

5. ESCAPE THE VORTEX – To escape the racing thoughts and panic, I first tried to do what earth-beings call “Letting Go.” I envisioned everything turning out okay, and that my worrying was pointless. It didn’t work.

6. ESCAPE THE VORTEX – PART DEUX – So I was onto Part Deux. One realization is that I had failed to set up “shifts” between the team members in advance of the last week of the contest. It made me feel better to recognize this blunder, and plan more effectively for next year instead of fashioning voo-doo dolls and putting them on a shrine in the corner of my room and lighting three candles and…KIDDING!

7. ESCAPE THE VORTEX – PART THREE. Sealing the deal of “Escaping the Vortex” was MOVING ON. I mentally moved on from this year’s case study competition, and started thinking about next year’s. Who would be nominated? Would we do year-round training on case writing? What about early-bird submission prizes? Thinking about SOLUTIONS and moving on is what helped me fully exit the vortex…until this morning.

8. THIS IS YOUR LIFE. THIS IS YOUR LIFE ON CRAZY ENTREPRENEURSHIP. My kids did not in any way, shape or form agree to this last sentence. Yet, somehow I feel very frustrated when I am on my Blackberry needing to respond to case-writers about technical issues, and the munchkins claiming they are mine are relentless about wanting to play in the snow and watch Spongebob. Aha! In addition to having shifts for my staff and myself in next year’s case study competition, I definitely need to set up shifts for my FAMILY! For instance:

  • Example 1: If I had a staff member on a shift this morning, I handle the kids stress-free.  It would not be “battle of the Crackberry.”
  • Example 2: During the 11th hour of the competition, my husband was out of town and we had no sitter. And it snowed.  So, now I am getting my husband’s travel schedule for the ENTIRE YEAR so I can plan better next time.
  • I’m sure I’ll have some other brilliant realizations, but, now I am just tired from the Vortex’s G-Force.

9. DELEGATION & EXECUTIVE-LEVEL TOOLKIT BUILDING. This is really the key.

  • Lesson 1. Learning to manage and delegate – not just lead – is what I am growing here in my executive-level toolkit. My workplace is virtual and flexible. It requires a few more check-ins than a traditional office environment.
  • Lesson 2. Furthermore, when we entrepreneurs try to do it all ourselves, and then enter the VORTEX, that is when we feel bad, overwhelmed, unsuccessful.
  • Lesson 3. And, let’s be honest. Those close to us feel it right along with us. Escaping the VORTEX is not just a “nice to have,” it’s a “need to have.”

Conclusion: So, my belated New Year’s Resolution is to think and plan ahead as I never have before.

The goal: STAY OUT OF THE VORTEX.

10. FINAL ACT – TAMING THE VORTEX. In the final taming-of-the-vortex act, I WILL watch Lady Gaga’s Grammy performance. Heck! I may even watch Pink too!  And Beyonce! I am going to walk the Hot Mommas Project talk and realize that smart Hot Mommas know when they are using their powers for good, or using them for evil. And, the Vortex is EVIL! Time to exit, and focus on Grammy playbacks, reading over fabulous and inspiring cases that never cease to amaze me, and a night at home with my little munchkins while daddy is at a Wizards game.

What are your tools for escaping the “Entrepreneurial Vortex?”

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What is the Hot Mommas Project?

The Hot Mommas Project is an award-winning venture housed at the George Washington University School of Business.  We make women’s stories teachable using our “case wizard” at www.HotMommasProject.org . The Hot Mommas Project library is the first of its kind, providing scalable, global access to role models and virtual mentors that can be used by educators, trainers, and parents. We’ve been featured in Prentice Hall textbooks, the Washington Post Magazine, NPR and are the winner of a national Coleman Foundation case award.

How you can get involved: Write your story, or nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older.

Our call for 2011 nominations has begun. While the contest runs through January 31, 2011 – Start now! There will be prizes this spring and fall for early bird publishers.

How it works: Nominated women come online, write their story using our “case wizard,” and click “publish” to be permanently archived in our case library.  Winners will be published in a leading Prentice Hall textbook in addition to other honors and prizes. To participate, nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older (yourself included) here or find us on Twitter. No, you do not need to be a mom.

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