Growing up, I never had the opportunity to travel or experience the luxuries some kids did. My first time on an airplane was when I was 24. It wasn't a vacation. It was an unexpected and life-changing journey. Looking back, it shaped my perspective on success and happiness in the tech industry.
It all started when I won a contest, including a California trip for Macworld and a brand new MacBook laptop. Little did I know I was about to witness the launch of the iPhone. To put it into perspective, I had to get my first passport for this trip!
I grew up poor. My parents divorced when I was five. They both made modest incomes. I never imagined I would have the chance to attend such an event. Yet, I was about to embark on a journey exceeding my wildest expectations.
As the plane took off, I felt nervous and excited. I had never experienced anything like it before. The thrill of the unknown was both exhilarating and intimidating. The conference itself was mind-blowing, and I returned home full of dreams.
I got fired shortly after my return. Ironic right? Yet, despite the setback, my newfound sense of possibility propelled me forward. Within a year, I started my first startup. Fast forward 17 years, and I still reflect on that first airplane ride and how it shaped my life.
A mentor once asked me how much money I wanted to make. I came up with the most considerable number I could imagine. Now, every dollar I make beyond that is icing on the cake. It's all gravy. This realization has led to two key insights:
Resilience: I know that I can manage even if I experience setbacks. My parents' lives testify that money doesn't buy happiness. Setbacks hurt! But, I know I can make it through them, thanks to my upbringing and the resilience it instilled in me.
Gratitude: I am grateful for every moment I get to live above my childhood expectations. It's as if I won the lottery, a marathon, and a game show at the same time.
So, what can founders and executives of growth-stage tech startups learn from my story? First, embrace the unexpected and cherish every opportunity that comes your way. Remember where you came from and let it shape your perspective on success and happiness.
Always be grateful for the journey and the resilience you've gained along the way.
It's not only about achieving success. It's about staying grounded and loving the small wins that make it all worthwhile.