Entrepreneur Beginners Guide
“You Cry When Things Don’t Go Your Way”
Disappointment is an endless wellspring of comedy inspiration. —Martin Freeman, English actor
There’s no crying in business! Well, that’s what I thought until I read the Steve Jobs biography that came out shortly after his death. To my surprise, it seemed like Jobs cried about everything that didn’t go his way. For example, when Jobs was forced out of Apple, the very company he founded, he cried. Apple’s board at the time decided to support John Scully as CEO and planned to reduce Jobs’s role in the company. Walter Isaacson, author of the biography, wrote, “He [Jobs] went back to his office, gathered his long-time loyalists on the Macintosh staff, and started to cry.” This was just one of several examples throughout the book of Jobs crying. A few of the reasons are somewhat justified—like getting kicked out of the billion-dollar company you started—but others seem especially frivolous. Jobs also cried when cofounder Steve Wozniak was deemed employee number one and he was not. He cried when some of his best employees left the company. He cried when negotiations didn’t go his way, He cried when his team had design problems. I think you get the watery picture.
I was quick to judge Jobs, but then I remembered that I, too, have cried when things have not gone my way in business. The first and most emotional breakdown took place when I was twenty-five, and a major investment fell through at the last minute. I felt like my world was ending, so I cried. This wasn’t a dignified weep when tears slowly well up and finally pour from your eyes, streaming gracefully down your cheeks, when you still have control over your body. No, it was much worse. I cried so hard that I sounded like a toddler who could barely breathe. Mucus was coming out of my nose, and my ‘body jolted rhythmically during inhalation to keep up with the outpouring of raw emotion. Luckily, my supportive girlfriend was there to console, hold, and pray for me and tell me that everything would be just fine. I eventually recovered and felt better because of the waterworks.
When I recalled this incident, I smiled because I knew that Jobs and I were so passionate about our businesses that we couldn’t help but express in the most natural way how an adverse situation affected us. Many entrepreneurs internalize their unhappy emotions so as to appear invulnerable. There certainly is a place for that. However, sometimes a good cry is what a CEO needs to move on and to overcome whatever has happened.
Everyone talks about how entrepreneurs should be passionate. However, they rarely talk about being passionate in the most comprehensive sense. Passion manifests itself in different forms, from working long hours to yelling at members of your team, from having youthful enthusiasm to even crying when something doesn’t go your way. If you feel the urge to cry every now and then about an issue related to your business, go ahead and cry. It’s quite alright. Many entrepreneurs in the world have cried about their businesses. They just aren’t honest enough to admit it like Jobs and me.