Networking Tips

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The Emotional Toll of Entrepreneurship

By: BNI Staff
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    Networking Tips

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    BNI Staff

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Submitted by regular Virginia Green, PhD, MBA - Member, BNI Pipeline, Redondo Beach. This month’s submission also includes an incredible story of resilience from fellow chapter member, Lisa Marie, survivor of the 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting.

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs

I am one of 582 million people,  almost 8% of the global population, who have devoted their lives to entrepreneurship. This means that for the past two decades I have been in the process of either starting or running my own business.

An entrepreneur has been described as someone who passionately and creatively pursues an idea from concept to actualization as a result of a discovered need or challenge in the market.

The mental health crisis in start-ups

In a recent study by the University of San Francisco researcher Michael A. Freeman, approximately one half (49%) of entrepreneurs suffer from at least one form of mental health condition during their lifetimes. These include ADHD, bipolar disorder and a host of addictive disorders.

Freeman’s research has shown that start-up founders are:

- Twice as likely to suffer from depression

- Six times more likely to suffer from ADHD

- Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse

- Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts

These conditions erode not just the effectiveness of start-up founders; they also have a negative impact on the endeavors that these highly intelligent human beings have risked their financial, relational, intellectual and emotional capital to pursue.

1. Destigmatization: BNI’s efforts to promote the idea that it’s OK for founders to be vulnerable and open up about their mental health challenge are just what we need.

2. Wellbeing resources: BNI’s philosophy of Giver’s Gain expands the horizon of its members beyond financial and other key performance indicators by also taking into account the mental wellbeing of their most important asset, the founders.

3. Partner support: as one of the most important partners we all have, BNI needs to include mental health professionals in their organizational ecosystem to serve as support systems and to implement empirically proven, enhancing and curative strategies for the leadership to help us, sometimes beleaguered, entrepreneurs.

We entrepreneurs are trained to ignore the qualitative needs of our well-being measured in meaningful and authentic relationships, overall life satisfaction and happiness. The message we have internalized from the field’s most celebrated entrepreneurs is the outdated prescription of 'no pain, no gain' and a pernicious message that success is purely measured in quantitative returns, return on investment and profit.

A recent blog post by fellow member Lisa Marie shows that this message is simply not true. Reflection and resiliency are vital and the support that we give each other as Members is as essential as any referral that we could receive.

So please, I encourage you to take some time and read Lisa's story below. It's an incredible tale of a strong individual whose story can inspire us all.



Route 91 Family: #Honor58 & #LoveWins… 

By Lisa Marie

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