Friday, June 14, 2019

My Startup Journey - Doubt




Brilliant ideas

The right place at the right time
... and then the doubts came


I recently started my own company, Olifano. This is the second in a series of posts about the lessons I am learning along the way. Here is a link to the first.

I knew from years of reading about startups and startup founders that there would be moments of doubt. Reid Hoffman described it as “the valley of the shadow” and Ben Horowitz “the struggle”. In my own experience as an executive leading large teams of brilliant people I often suffered from imposter syndrome and moments of doubt as to whether I was really smart enough to lead others. But as a new founder when doubt hits it can really smack you.

“What are you doing?!”

“Why do you think you can make this work?”

“Most startups fail, why would you risk your reputation and spend... wait, how much?”

Not only are the questions bracing, for me at least, but they hit every day. I walk my dogs at 4:30 in the morning and in the darkness of Park City I think about the day ahead. For the last 60 days, running through the list of doubts has been the recurring theme. It’s tough to start the day with, “WTF are you doing?!”

I don’t have good answers for dealing with doubt or imposter syndrome. It might be one of those things that never really goes away. Maybe some of the founders reading this can chime in with how they deal with the doubt. For now, I remind myself that doubt is expected. It is a part of the process. I tell myself, almost every morning, “Just calm the f* down, this is a part of the journey.” And, “If you weren’t feeling this doubt something would be wrong”. It is a bit of a mantra given how often I worry about whether I am on the right track or not.

Doubt can be a good thing. It can lead to the tough questions that you should be asking. But it shouldn’t stop you. I won’t let it stop me.

I can’t wait to share what we are building with you. We launch this fall so please stay tuned! You can follow Olifano on LinkedIn or on Twitter.


About David Verhaag 


David is the Founder of Olifano. He has spent his career building and scaling teams at some of the leading HR technology companies. He was most recently the Chief Customer Officer at Degreed, the lifelong learning platform. Prior to Degreed, he held leadership positions at Kahuna, HireVue, and SuccessFactors. David lives in Park City, Utah.

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