Career Stories: Working at a startup that’s on fire


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In life, we will have to go through many difficulties and challenges to achieve success. This is how we grow and gain valuable experiences.

Here’s a story shared on Quora about a tough time starting at a startup. For those who are facing challenges and stress at work, this will be an inspirational story for you.

Career stories: Working at a startup that’s on fire

Career stories: Working at a startup that's on fire
Career stories: Working at a startup that’s on fire
Imagine this:

Since you were 7 years old, you had your eye on marrying the most beautiful, kindest girl in the entire world, Julie Dream.

However, you were the ugliest and shortest person in school. Nobody knew your name. Everyone ignored you. You were nobody.

In middle school, you formed an action plan to get this girl. This was the brainstorming phase of your pursuit. You had lots of crazy ideas. Maybe you should buy a Super Bowl ad to get her attention. Maybe you should borrow millions of dollars and hire a PR firm to get your name out around the school. Maybe you should invest all your resources in an inbound marketing campaign, building out your personal blog, becoming a guest columnist in your school newspaper, or creating infographics about how awesome you are. Maybe people would link to your infographic when discussing the concept of ‘awesomeness’ generally.

SEE MORE: 20 Deep Quotes to Lead You During Life’s Greatest Challenges.

None of these things, however, promised immediate return. These things all seemed tangential to achieving the dream.

In high school, you decided on an action plan. From here on out, you were going to take concrete action to make your dream come true. You were going to lift weights. You were going to read books and get smart. You were going to get the best grades. You were going to take lessons on how to be funny and how to dance well.

In short, you were going to do everything you could for however long it took to get this girl, and you thought about it every waking moment of your life. And that’s what you did.

In college, the rubber hit the road. It was time to get serious. Julie still didn’t know your name, and you weren’t getting any traction towards even dating her. However, you saw faint indications that your plan had worked for others, so if you worked hard enough and dreamed big enough, it might actually work for you. Some of your older friends had grown up and gotten their dream girls with similar techniques. Julie was still eluding you, but somehow she felt nearer than a few years ago.

You tripled the time spent in the gym, the time you spent studying, the time you spent learning how to be cool. Your Body Mass Index was plummeting. Someone told you Julie had mentioned you in conversation at a party. It seemed like you had kind of figured out a formula that might be working. You stepped on the accelerator; you didn’t sleep.
College was nearing an end, though, and you felt like you were reaching a decision point. Although some indicators looked great, some didn’t look so great.

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For example, In addition to having an awesome body and personality that your girl didn’t even notice, you were ditching other great opportunities in pursuit of this girl. Your parents thought Julie Dream was in the “fast group” – too risky and volatile to attain. They wished you would just settle down with the ones who were actively courting you – Gail Goldman & Sarah Sachs.

Meanwhile, Julie was dating lots of other guys you looked up to on-campus – Gary Google, Frank Facebook, and Tony Twitter. These guys were all 10 years older than you. These were beefy dudes, Big Men on Campus, and could provide any lady with more security than you ever could.

The worst thing was that Gary, Frank, and Tony even seemed to be encroaching on your space. Every good idea you had for getting Julie – they did something similar. Every wingman you tried to recruit to your cause – they recruited with greater ease. These guys had already achieved the dream – were they trying to shut the door behind them?

You made a decision to ignore Gail & Sarah – those seductive ladies who wanted you so bad they actually paid for your dinner. You also decided to ignore Gary, Frank, and Tony – your worries wouldn’t change anything they might do in pursuit of their dream. It took superhuman willpower to keep your eye on your dream, ignore all the best advice of your family and friends, and forge on.

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You graduated from college, and finally… you started seeing some real traction. At this point, your body was stunningly chiseled. Your mind was brilliant. You were hilarious. You were better in every way than all of Julie’s incumbent contenders.

Your big break came when you got noticed by Julie’s three best friends – Sandra Sequoia, Katie Kleiner, and Allison Andreessen. Not only did they notice you – they all started pursuing you, all at the same time, without any warning. You were suddenly the hottest thing in town. These three people had never heard of you two months ago, and now they all wanted your sexy body. And they were fighting over it. And the world was noticing.

These girls did so many ridiculous things to secure you as a long-term fling that CechTrunch, Shamable, and OmGiga – the three most popular gossip blogs on campus – didn’t stop coverage of this insane bidding war for weeks on end.
And even though you knew that getting into a relationship with one of Julie’s best friends could take over your life and meddle with your dream, you did it anyway – because you had seen others do it before you and they seemed like the fastest way to getting Julie, who you have dreamed of every moment of every day since you were 7 years old.

SEE MORE: 47 Valuable Lessons From Successful People in The World

So here you are. You are living the dream that 99.99% of people in the world would kill for – you are super-buff, super-smart, super-funny, generally respected by your small campus community as super-awesome… and you’re dating one of the hottest girls around. Taken together, life is good.

But you want more.

You’re thrilled you’ve made it this far, but what you have isn’t enough. Your middle school plan is working great, but you still doubt and question it. You’re having fun and you love the pursuit, but you just don’t know whether you’ll ever get Julie Dream.

That’s what it’s like to work at a start-up that’s on fire.


Postscript, August 2014:

I wrote this answer in January 2012, just after we had raised our Series A round. At the time we were decidedly not on fire. This post was completely, totally, entirely aspirational. We were nobody.

Today we’re still mostly nobody, but the story’s a bit different. Sandra Sequoia pursued us 18 months after I wrote this post, and we bit. And then Tina Tiger pursued us 24 months after I wrote this post, and we bit again. And now Gabby Google has pursued us, and we bit again. We had raised ~$5m when I wrote the post; today we’ve raised ~$150m.

And yet the feeling is the same. We’re thrilled we’ve made it this far, but what we have isn’t enough. Our middle school plan is working great, but we still doubt and question it. We’re having fun and loving the pursuit, but we just don’t know whether we’ll ever get Julie Dream. We just keep working and working and working, building and building and building, hoping and hoping and dreaming.


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