I believe it is possible for entrepreneurs to be healthy and happy while they build great companies that change the world. When I started my first company at 17, my one goal was to be an entrepreneur. I've since launched more than eleven tech startups, scaling one from conception to 350 employees and $50 million in annual subscription revenue. My biggest exit was a $169 million sale to a publicly traded company before my 30th birthday.
I was selected as an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 and was listed in Inc Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2010. What I didn't know at the time was my success, or what I had thought was success, came at a cost.
I learned that when I sold my company, I didn't sell the panic attacks and the debilitating anxiety. I had a habit, like many of us, of pushing myself to the absolute limit. Trading sleep to hit deadlines, trading nutrition to save pennies, and enduring chronic stress year after year to chase my dreams. Then in 2009, I was told I had cancer. And it was stage four. Faced with my own mortality, I thought about my loved ones and how desperately I wished that more of the thousands of hours I spent staring at my computer were hours I had spent with them.
I knew there must be a better way, and I spent the next five years figuring out what it was. I studied how entrepreneurs manage stress. I personally tested techniques for achieving high performance while maintaining mental and physical health. I then took my years of experience and research and used them to create the Founders First System; a simple set of processes, disciplines, and metrics designed to improve the experience of founders and business leaders around the world.
My goal now is to make the founder journey easier for entrepreneurs, so they have the stamina to succeed and share their brilliance with the world. Not just once, but time and time again.