Unburnt Out and Back to Work
Back in early March I left Stocktwits after nearly 11 years. My time at Stocktwits was an incredible experience. I joined a few months after the March 2009 bottom and was able to build one of the largest communication platforms for retail investors during one of the largest bull markets in history — one where we have finally seen active investing become en vogue once again. During that time we invented and cemented the cashtag — one of only a handful of true and widely used social protocols in existence (next to @mention and hashtag). That will always stay with me. I’m incredibly thankful for my time there and remain on as an advisor. I also remain incredibly bullish on the team and platform — which I’m sure has been absolutely thriving since the start of COVID.
When I left I was incredibly burnt out. You read about burnout and don’t believe it will happen to you, but it’s kind of like boiling a frog. In fact, if you’re a hard worker and don’t believe it will happen to you, then it’s more likely to happen to you. On the day after I left, my plan was to take most of the spring and summer to rest, reset, and focus on areas of my life I had been neglecting before beginning to work on what was next. I was excited to spend some time in NYC catching up with my network, read the pile of books that I accumulated, actually see some weeknight concerts, and focus on what’s next. Then COVID hit.
Working in early stage companies, I was quite comfortable with dealing with setbacks and uncertainty, and finding ways to work around or through them. In fact it’s almost second nature to do so. What I hadn’t learned, however, was how to do nothing. The stress and anxiety surrounding COVID complicated this further, as it felt even more urgent to do something. I proceeded to spend my first two months burning myself out even more — volunteering on a COVID project and trying to build my own social platform on top of Zoom to benefit bars and restaurants. It took a month of playing Playstation and an appendicitis to snap me out of it and in early June, I finally began to rest.
In early July, my wife and I have moved down to Durham, NC. This was always a medium term plan of ours that was expedited by COVID. We couldn’t be happier and I’m excited for the future of the technology scene here, which I will blog about in the future.
One of the favorite things I’ve ever read about moving is that it slows down time, which sounds awful in a period of quarantine and pandemic, but has been essential for me to recharge. The last two months I’ve been able to spend time getting the house set up, work on my golf handicap, and keep my mind and body active but not stressed. When we arrived in July, I set the Tuesday after Labor Day in my calendar as the day I would start to transition back to work, and while I’ve been slowly transitioning back over the past few weeks — today I make it official.
Over the next month, I plan to focus on what I want to do next, and, while I think I know what I want that to look like, I am always open to new and exciting opportunities and feel free to DM me on Twitter, @zerobeta.
This post is mostly intended to be a long overdue “here’s what’s happening, here’s what’s next”, but also a cautionary tale on burn out. Burn out is real, and I’m sure COVID has made it even more of a problem for many more outside of the startup world. Working from home makes it easier to work longer hours and get consumed with work — and thats before you even begin to factor in those with kids who have inherited new childcare responsibilities.
I’ve been incredibly lucky and fortunate to be able to take this time off and to have a wife who has worked tirelessly while I was burning myself out, put up with my bullshit, just to turn around and support us while I’ve been getting Unburnt.
Excited to get back to work. This time I’m bringing the lotion.