What does a CEO do in the two weeks leading up to his startup’s launch day? 99 out of a 100 times the answer is “hustle his ass off, line up press, deeply scrutinize product, figure out distribution playbook, create email lists, coordinate the blast, develop playbook for how to work social channels, target influencers, help the team sane while they are sprinting to the finish line, put out fires, etc. etc. etc.”
What did I do in the two weeks leading up to Wildcard’s launch? Lay in bed, sweating out a super intense fever, shiver, sleep, alternate between advil and tylenol every 4 hours for 13 days straight, and stress about how I couldn’t do almost any of the things I should have been doing because I was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life.
The first day I was in the office was the day before launch, when I squeezed out about 3 hours of work before dropping like a brick. I remember scheduling a Techcrunch conversation with Sarah Perez and telling her 11AM is better than noon because my fever usually spikes around noon each day…”hopefully that’s ok?”
Overall I think our launch went pretty well. No major fires, a bunch of thoughtful press. Some fair criticism and a lot of generous support and excitement…when people ask me how it was I generally say 8.75 out of 10…and that is almost entirely thanks to a handful of amazing people here stepping up and picking up my slack to make everything happen. While I was pretty depressed that I couldn’t do my job in a critical time after a year and half of build up, I was pretty inspired that we had built a team that could do my job for me…about as well as I could have done it myself.
So that was the two weeks leading up to launch…but this story doesn’t end there…after another two weeks of remaining ill (albeit slightly less ill)…i started spending a lot of time at doctor’s offices, trying to figure out what the hell was going on…blood test after blood test, results were not regular…white blood cell counts were high even when my fever went away, and then my doctors notices something in my blood called myelocytes. Myelocytes are immature cells that get spit out from your bone marrow before fully differentiating…a quick search on google will confirm that they are often an indication of mallignancy and this news sort of brought me out of the sphere of “fuck this is a bad virus” into the sphere of “fuck is this lymphoma or leukemia?” After a horrendous experience interacting with a sea of physicians assistants and doctors that were not MY doctor, I finally got 30 seconds with the dude who has been giving me physicals for the last 15 years and he sent me to a hematologist/oncologist. Occasionally myelocytes can be present in your blood when you are just really sick…and a bad infections or viruses throw your body, including your bone marrow so out of whack that they spit those puppies out before they are ready…but I’d have to go see a specialists to figure out what was going on.
Yesterday, I finally got the last test result back and I am home free…in the clear…no more myelocytes, normal white blood cells, no more follow up appointments…back to business as usual…but the last 5 weeks or so in total have been pretty fucking rough. I’m not sure exactly why i’m writing this all out, but this is a space where I usually reflect on things that are on my mind…and for the last month when normally Wildcard would have been my entire life…in reality…it was pretty hard to focus on Wildcard…and I guess writing this out just provides some kind of closure to an experience I’ve never really had before, but that I suppose bcomes a part of life as you get beyond your invincible 20’s…
As I really settle back into a more normal mindspace…as I really check in with where we are as a company…and dedicate the mindshare that I am used to allocating to it…I am struck by the contrast between today and yesterday before I got those results. I can’t help but observe that import is relative, not absolute. Day to day it definitely feels absolute. Work can be so intense. Get a hire, lose a hire, win a deal, lose a deal, succeed or fail…these things FEEL so heavy…so important…when their is nothing heavier in your immediate vicinity…and even when something heavier emerges…health…9/11…ebola…etc… how fleeting that moment when the heavy becomes light in the face of something greater…our memories are so short…less than 24 hours before Wildcard’s homescreen is as consuming as “does my blood have cancer in it.” I know that is a bit extreme to say…but it is incredibly difficult to consistently maintain the notion that import is relative…or even to hold the contextual and the universal or truth side by side…to see import on a spectrum as opposed to a point.
I’m not sure there is anything to do with this reflection, except to remember that even the heaviest points, the ones that make the everyday feel unimportant…they are just points as well…and there are things out there of an even greater weight…that we are I suppose fortunate not to hold in our minds…for fear that everything would be reduced to nothing
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