Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, February 12, 2024
by Neil Senturia
How are you feeling?
Series B financing going well, the board loves you, no homeless people camped in your parking lot, excited about the election choices, revenue ramping up, marriage is solid, climate change is a non-issue, just got back from Davos and life is fantastic?
For the 99.7 percent of us for which that is not true, we need a reset, we need some fun, some laughter, some delight. We need to stop, wonder at the universe, and remember that money doesn’t buy happiness. (Actually, studies show that it really helps, but your parents didn’t tell you that for fear that it would stifle your dreams.)
Meet Catherine Price, author of “The Power of Fun.” She teaches delight. “Making a point to notice and share things we find delightful can improve our moods, outlooks, relationships and our physical health.” She wants us to be “frivolous.” She contends it will help us live longer.
I like the use of the word delight. I believe in laughter. At this time, I think that particularly for the entrepreneur when the world is in a serious state of flux, there is a deep need to embrace those moments that amaze and delight.
As a first step Price argues for disconnecting from social media, but that is not enough. The next step is to allow yourself to be dazzled, to be amazed. When that happens, it makes you smaller, it centers you and maybe it even lets you laugh at yourself.
My normal response to fascinating stuff is to say “wow.” I have a bit of the child in me, and I want to suggest that a combination of gratitude and delight can actually be effective in running your company or just surviving in the company in which you toil.
I know there is a touch of corny here — you know the “look up at the stars and wonder” moments — but Price makes a great argument for what she calls “savoring, the practice of deliberately appreciating positive life experiences.”
Now there are several kinds of delight. If you have been tossed on the hot coals by your venture capitalist who said “no mas,” you can take a bit of comfort in some data, namely 38 percent of VCs disappeared in 2023.
I don’t think Price is advocating schadenfreude, but rather she wants us to elevate our own spirits, raise our ratio of joy to misery and seek wonder. Along the way, seek “playfulness, connection and flow.”
I like the idea of playful. That does not mean more game apps, but instead trying something goofy. My granddaughter made me a paper crown, and I wore it watching a football game. I think it helped the Chiefs win that day.
Price likes the word “marvel.” I know that is easy to do that when you read about the latest and greatest health care cancer cure genomic AI, but I am going to try to embrace baseline marvels — like electricity.
As many of you know, I am a passionate follower of magicians, magic tricks and conjuring. I know the same card cannot be in two places at the same time, but there it is. How can that be?
Barbara and I went to the Mat Franco magic show in Las Vegas. It was fabulous, and right before the conclusion of one of the tricks, I turned around and looked at the audience. Their mouths were open. It was wonder. The reveal and then came massive applause. That was the moment when they gave it up. They were transported.
I know that the startup racket can be brutal, but a few moments outside yourself might yield new insights. At worst, it should make you smile.
Finally, please indulge me while I beat my favorite drum — why people do stupid things.
Case in point: Joe Lewis, 86-year-old British billionaire, just couldn’t help himself. He was found guilty of insider trading. “I knew that what I was doing was violating a legal duty, that what I was doing was wrong.” His fine was $50 million and possible time in the slammer.
His net worth at the time was $6.1 billion.
So you risked prison and your reputation to make even more money and “to give some tips to your friends, employees and romantic interests.”
Joe, when is enough, enough?
Rule No. 796: “For A Few Dollars More,” Sergio Leone