The Fine Line Between Fearlessness and Threatening in Business

Twitter HQ, San Francisco

Fear and anxiety are inherent in being an entrepreneur. Everyday there are challenges that can derail you. As an entrepreneur I am constantly overcoming uncertainty and challenging my own doubts. That is why in the end when founders can overcome their deepest fears and uncertainties and are successful we have so much respect for them.

The dust has settled for me in San Francisco. I am now, for better or worse, living the new normal. I wanted to learn to sell, so I took the Nordstroms stylist job. Now, I sell things left and right. I no longer feel apprehensive telling people to buy things. Yesterday, I sold thousands of dollars worth of fine Jewlery. A friend of mine gave me this advice about selling, he said it is just “helping” people. So, that’s what I do and I do it well. My hope is that these last months at Nordstrom working directly with consumers will help me to understand how they think and how they buy. This will also help me sell my own company as I begin shopping my Ocean SF business plan around to investors in January.

This morning I contacted my factory to do a job for me. Every time I text the beautiful and elegant Connie Pang I fear she will no longer be there. With relief she responded and I will meet with her tomorrow. Why is this? Why am I so fearful when Elon Musk walks through his life fearlessly? He has a high tolerance for uncertainty and has the ability to completely tune out the doubters, but more importantly the haters. He takes on the haters. Where did he get this bulletproof mindset?

As I watch Elons actions at Twitter literally four blocks south of my apartment I think this is more about him being bullied in school than anything else. He was 12 years old and was sitting at the top of a staircase when a group of boys kicked him down a flight of concrete stairs than severely beat him. He was in the hospital for two weeks in South Africa recovering. How would an experience like this shape a person? While hospitalized he started reading five books per week and has continued to do so throughout his life. Maybe this is why he can work 18 hours a day. Part of this is spent reading on the coach and another good chunk of his work day is spent trolling through social media. Essentially he is just like everyone else. After the beating he vowed to leave South Africa and he did. South Africa can be brutal. It is a country with a violent history, so he moved to Canada. Could there be a more gentle country than Canada?

Sadly, what we often see when people are victimized is the bullied will become the bully. They reenact the same behavior they experienced. You don’t have to physically hurt someone to bully them. You just have to threaten them. Is forcing someone to work long hours and sleep on a mattress in their office and devoid themselves of any sort of personal life a form of bullying? It is when you threatened to fire them if they don’t.

There’s a fine line between being fearless and threatening. May all great leaders never cross that line. And, by the way working 18 hours a day includes reading books and surfing the internet. That’s what I call leisure.

Love and blessings.

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