Negativity is everywhere it seems. If you have the privilege, as I do, of living in the great electoral battleground state of North Carolina you are currently being bombarded by both sides of the political aisle with message after message about how bad things are.
My point in bringing this up is not to get down the rabbit hole of arguing politics but rather to note that no matter what happens in November, there's a large portion of our population that believes we're doomed.
This distinctly negative view of life is endemic not just to the political sphere but in all walks of life. The truth is, we all tend to bring our own version of this cynicism vibe into our little silos and mini-worlds, many times without even understanding the depth to which these subconscious attitudes are ingrained within us.
For me, this often means viewing the world through the lens of the tech/startup lens and applying my understanding of events thusly.
So over the last few weeks I've read seemingly dozens of articles absolutely shredding some of the biggest recent successes in the startup world. Ever since the Facebook IPO debacle, it seems that the only thing more in form than ripping the social networking giant is to pick apart one of it's even less-respected Internet brethren (I'm looking at you Groupon and Zynga!)
To be clear, there are a whole host of well documented issues faced by all of these companies (as well as other high profile comrades like Twitter, foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram and others). My point is simply this: these are the winners in the startup game, the ones who have made it through the valley of death and are riding the thrilling and yet frightening hockey stick growth curve of which all entrepreneurs dream. And even these winners are not immune to the deluge of unfavorable opinions from the masses.
How do we navigate this world then, especially as a startup knowing what we do regarding just how difficult the road will be? It's appropriate, I think, to answer this question via the classic Louis CK bit from a couple years ago in which he summarized our plight simply - "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy." (Watch the video, it's worth the 4 minutes).
Inevitably, when running a company, you will find yourself dealing with unhappy people. It may be your development team that needs more resource. Or your Board, who needs everything - EVERYTHING - faster. Heck, it may even be you, once the sheen of entrepreneurial optimism loses a bit of its early shine.
It's tempting to allow the micro-challenges of building a venture - like the lack of investment capital or a dearth of quality engineers - to shield us from acknowledgement of the amazing macro environment in which we live.
When those moments hit, let's all agree to take a minute to remember that we live in extraordinary times. Startups are almost immeasurably difficult propositions, with failure a constant companion and, probabilistically speaking, a likely final outcome.
And yet there has never been a time in history when entrepreneurs have had more information, easier access to investors, and better methods for distributing their products and services. It has never been cheaper to test an idea, never been more accepted culturally - even in conservative areas like the Southeast - to take a stab at an entrepreneurial venture.
And the fact that it is so easy to be negative is simply validation of the many problems that exist in our world that are begging for a solution.
By no means does this guarantee or necessarily improve the likelihood of success. It just means that no matter how negative the resonance of popular opinion is around us, there is no lack of opportunity. It's incumbent on all of us to focus on what we can control while remembering the other irrefutable law of the world:
Remember, if all else fails, another day will come. And we will wake up knowing that there's a chance that we will get a day like last Sunday. The sun will be shining, the sky will be blue. Everything will be still be amazing. And, yes, we can be happy.