Your Entrepreneurial Spawn

Recently I found myself going through a bit of a ‘thing’ – in a good way. Certain forces within the confines of the CitySquares fortress have forced me to think about some exciting opportunities on the road ahead, as well as some challenges that I’ve never had to face before. And just as I’ve had to think about these good and exciting things, I’ve also had to think about worst-case-scenarios, as the market and economy put a damper on things and forced us to have backup plans. These things, coupled with a few family emergencies and close-calls, have caused me to shift my focus a little bit. You know how if you look at something bright for a little too long it can stain your vision for a short while? Well, think of entrepreneurship as the source of bright light, and the rest of reality as the backdrop to the stain. Let me explain…

As this company grows and gets closer to cash flow positivity, and as we continue to rack up traffic numbers, questions come to mind, like, “what next?” and “what does this really mean?” On the flip side, when the economy nosedives, and our primary markets stop cooperating so well, I’ve also been forced to ask those same questions but in a very different context. What a conflict! Furthermore, there was a very close-call with a member of my immediate family. These personal/family moments have a way of acting like gravity and pulling you down to earth very fast and hard sometimes.

So, these things have forced me to pause for a bit and think about who I really am. Because in either scenario, entrepreneurial success or failure, I am left with one single common denominator – me, myself, and I.

When you a third of your life dedicated to entrepreneurship, you inevitably become party defined by it. Things change. Your perceptions change, as well how others perceive you, including friends and family. Suddenly you’re no longer defined by the things that always defined you, but now you’re defined by what you spend 24/7/365 on – your business, your entrepreneurial drive. You are truly and without a doubt, true and through, an entrepreneur.

This changes you, and I’m not so sure it changes you for the better. Why? Because you lose a part of yourself. It’s unavoidable. When you put so much of yourself into one thing, for so long, you inevitably have to sacrifice other parts of yourself. It’s simply impossible to be an entrepreneur without sacrificing other parts of your Self. And when the business you create starts to take on it’s own life, its own characteristics, its own heartbeat and blood flow, suddenly you realize that it’s not a part of you anymore, it’s an entire entity unto itself. This entity is a being, if you will, that is the very personification of your entrepreneurial passions – its the result of it. It’s your entrepreneurial spawn, and it embodies everything that defined you.

I experienced this event, if you will, over the past several months, or rather, this epiphany. I had to ask myself, what if this thing actually, really, seriously takes off!? What if it really, actually, seriously becomes something!? What if it actually meets or exceeds my most realistic expectations? Or contrarily, what if it flops? What if the economy strangles it? What if outside influences and forces suffocate us? In either event – what happens to me? What do I do? Who am I, then?

So, here I am now, writing this post post-entrepreneurial-identity-crisis, I think. And I also think I’ve figured it out so some extent. I’m working hard now at trying to gather some of the missing pieces back together because I am not defined by my business, by my profession, by my entrepreneurial passions. I am defined by other things, who I am, how I treat people, how my family and friends view me, how my community views me. That is who I am, for better or for worse. I’m getting back to more balance in my life, and so far, I’m loving it.

The moral of the story is probably obvious – but just for the sake of clarity: As an entrepreneur, do not lose yourself. Do not lose sight of who you are and of the big picture, and of what’s really important in life. Maintain a balance in life. Many many years from now, when you are on your death bed, breathing your last few breaths, you will not utter words about how you wish you made more money, or how you wish you accepted that VCs terms, or shouldn’t have sold your company to Big Corp. You will think about family, about friends, about places you’ve been in the world, about those most simplest of things. So enjoy what your doing right now, and if you’re not, make a change.

I’m still trying to figure all this out, I definitely don’t have the answers. I may never have the answers! This is probably one of the big questions in life, ya know? I just know that I found a new perspective, and it’s working in the most meaningful ways.

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The Buddha: In His Own Words

img_0393This last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Evan Brenner, the man behind The Buddha: In His Own Words. Evan describes his show as “The extraordinary life of the Buddha assembled from the original texts and performed as a one-man play.” And yeah, that about sums it up. What you can’t really gather, though, from the website, and even from the coverage of Evan’s show in the media, is the total passion and sincerity with which Evan’s performance embodies.

I, along with my wife Ali, were lucky enough to attend his Saturday night img_0443performance at the Boston Center for the Arts. I was supposed to photograph it but unfortunately because of the intimate setting of the venue the shutter and mirror sounds from my Canon EOS were just too loud for comfort. So, for a nice change, I was able to enjoy the show as a spectator and not just as a photog. But I still had to take the photos – so Evan was kind enough to invite me back during the week for a private performance. This way, I could be as curious with my camera as I desire and wander around the stage, which is exactly what I did last night.

Evan actually performed the entire second act of his one-man show for me, with lighting effects and all. Yet, because of time considerations, and probably because of the pure passion he has for what he’s immersed himself in for who-knows-how-long – he did this performance for me, in costume, and in hyperspeed! It was The Buddha: In His Own Words, Act II, on fast forward. It was very challenging! Evan was moving around the stage as fast as you’d expect a performer to move when doing their performance in double-time. He was zigging and zagging across the stage, taking his various positions. He was contorting his body in ways only a performer or yoga student would, as if to wake his body from a day’s long slumber to ready for the evening’s show. His hands more expressive than I remember them being at Saturday’s show. His facial expressions, eye movements, even his mouth, all exagerated for the sake of waking himself and, I think, giving me some some color to work with in my compositions.

img_0550So, that’s what I ended up with – Evan Brenner, as The Buddha, fully animated and, best of all, sincere and full of passion. You can’t help but get a sense from Evan that he’s not just a student of Buddhism, but also a bit of a teacher. The books on his stage most likely all read by him over the past twenty years. As a spectator viewing with my own eyes, and as a photographer viewing through the viewfinder, I believe Evan. I imagine that’s all that he, and any stage performer, can ask for.

You can see all the photographs here, on Flickr. Please open to full screen mode, using the button at the bottom left.