I made the decision to do whatever I could to help alleviate the feeling of inadequacy, isolation, depression and suicide among founders by sharing real stories of real entrepreneurs’ struggles and successes. – Kristin Darga
In 2014, the relationship with my boyfriend at the time was ending and he was threatening to take his life by suicide. He told me why: he was overwhelmed, his business was growing too fast to keep up, and he didn’t see a way out; he wanted to kill himself. He shared every detail as to how he had it planned, and thought that it would be easy, painless.
I was committed to doing what I could so I called the suicide prevention lifeline. Calling the lifeline was the single most important decision I made, and, as a result, I am grateful to say, he is still alive today. He is one of the lucky ones – I happened to be there at the right time and fortunately made the right call.
He created an incredible business. He developed an entirely new, efficient, high-quality product, and in less than a year his business had about 40% of the market share. He couldn’t keep up. He was achieving his dream, but then felt totally overwhelmed and inadequate because he did not know how to keep up with the growth. We might expect those feelings when we fail, but here he was wildly succeeding and still felt unable to handle it.
Understanding that, I learned an extremely important lesson watching what he was going through as a success. I learned that everyone, absolutely EVERYONE, feels a certain level of inadequacy. No matter how someone appears to others, they are dealing with their own perceived set of internal shortcomings and often believe that they are the only ones with those shortcomings. That is simply not the truth.
Less than a year later, there were two suicides of startup founders and the sudden death of a third. Worst of all, all three were under the age of 32. When I read about Josh Greenberg (Grooveshark), Faigy Mayer (Appton), and Austen Heinz (Cambrian Genomics), I made the decision to do whatever I could to help alleviate the feeling of inadequacy, isolation, depression and suicide among founders by sharing real stories of real entrepreneurs’ struggles and successes.
Impact Founder creates a network for entrepreneurs so they never feel isolated or inadequate. Sharing the real stories of real entrepreneurs helps all of us understand that we are not alone with the challenges. While being an entrepreneur will never be free of stress and self-doubt, my hope is that it will never lead to the devastating outcomes of Josh, Faigy or Austen.
An For you
I invite you to see yourself somewhere in the following stories, potentially more than one place, and take solace in the fact that the person you are relating to survived to tell their story. This is a look at the range of issues from self-doubt to overwhelm to the internal battles of all kinds that entrepreneurs face. My ongoing research has also shown that the challenges they have faced are representative of entrepreneurs (people) everywhere. It is my quest to create a platform by which those stories can be shared.
What’s most fascinating to me is that at the time we interviewed these individuals, it seemed from the outside that they were experiencing success. And yet there they were, at that moment, still filled with self-doubt.