I made my first sale today. Oh man, it feels like I just lost my virginity. I wanted to pop a mini-bottle of Champagne and call all my closest friends to tell them every intimate detail of my newest achievement. Instead, I bought a root-beer and went back to my coworking desk to move my deal down our Nimble sales pipeline.
“Maybe it’s the sugar high,” I thought as I pulled out a pen, “but today is looking marvelous.” I almost tweeted that, but instead I excitedly wrote down everything that made the meeting work. “I wore floral print, I washed my hair today, I was early,” I thought deeper. “I listened and asked questions. I brought value to the company, I had our saleskit ready and I was upfront with the price.” For 20 minutes, I was Walt Disney making my customer believe that every manual email I send, every data set that I create, every tweet I compose, is all magic. People here are finally taking media seriously.
I leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes and smiled from ear to ear, “All I have to do is repeat this receipe and rest is history—” Ding! My thought was interupted by an email notification.
The email was from one of my potential advisors. He didn’t want to sign the NDA I sent him, and he sent me this bullshit article about why people don’t sign NDA’s. Don’t get me wrong, I get it, I think there are tons of people who sign NDA’s when it isn’t necessary. However, the article he sent me was completely insulting, totally opininated, and wasn’t really relevant to our past conversations. I’m a writer and a researcher, I’ve signed an NDA for a simple reason: I believe in my own company and I’m not going to compromise it.
I was crashing. I pounded away at my keyboard, looked my “WTF” email over and pressed send. Woosh, off it went into my cofounder’s inbox with the forwarded message attached.
My cofounder’s response was “You are the CEO, and you have to tell them what you want.” The thing is, it was a great response, just not the one I wanted.
Ding, another email. It was from the office of a very popular entrepreneur, who I wanted to interview while he was in town. “Looks like we don’t have you on our media list, let’s get you on there so you can come to all of our private events,” ok. I wondered why we weren’t on the media list. We had conversations with our local Startup Center, who was facilitating the event. The “Startup Center” told us that everything was full and that we probably couldn’t get in as the press to some of the more private events. I sensed that for whatever reason, our local Startup Center didn’t want us there. “Watch me jump through this loophole like a professional Media Circus ringleader,” I thought. “I’m going to every single one of these private events.” I responded to the office of the famous entrepreneur that I would be there.
I felt a cold shadow creep over my shoulder. It was my smug emeny, depression. “I’m so alone in this,” I said out loud in my 500 square foot apartment. “I’ve never felt more alone in my entire life.” I turned into a child who just dropped an icecream cone. “Having advisors that don’t want to be committed isn’t going to make my startup life or my personal life any easier. Having a Startup Center in my city that doesn’t take me seriously is bullshit. They don’t event want to include me as a tech writer to come to their tech event to cover our city as the only current tech news publication. That’s a problem.”
Then I got on Twitter…I looked at media news…the first story on TechCrunch was Marissa Meyer being late — and for no reason, right then, I started crying. I cried for Marissa and the author, Alex Tsotsis.Tears rolled down my face. “Media doesn’t get easier. It’s tough for Alex as a reporter to find a good story, and it’s tough for Marissa Meyer to lead Yahoo. It’s just challenging all the time, period. There’s not ever going to be someone to say to me that I did a good job, that I did my best, that I challenged myself in a way few in media had before. I won’t get on a 30 under 30 list. I’ll get critcized for my articles, written about in gossip columns, torn apart on stage, and I’ll have to work through all of these things that my predecessors worked through, on my own, just like they did.” I felt that queasy feeling you get after eating too many corndogs on one of those popup rides at the state fair. My head hurt. My stomach turned.
After discovering that all my media role models may have had a more emotional day than mine, I sat down and had a gin and tonic. I turned on the T.V. I composed an email to one of my friends who works in tech journalism. I knew she was probably busy so I kept it short. It was a thank you/response letter to an earlier email I had asking her for advice on selling. In the email I congratulated her on a recent event that took place in my neighborhood. I hope she needed to receive some validation as much as I needed a small connection. Even if she didn’t think about it, she got my email and fired back almost immediately,
“Thanks, hang in there!”
It may be a fleeting emotion, but there I was, back on the tightrope, fighting the lion, riding high at the top of the roller coaster again.