Yesterday something happened, that made me windswept and pensive, as you can see.
I was sitting at a desk in a space and I felt it.
An edginess. An unsureness. Hints of desperation. I found myself staring at the screen before me, clicking on tabs, mind spinning. I felt disconnected. I felt small.
It didn’t help that I was a bit hungover after the dinner party the night before. Which was excellent, by the way. I love to cook. The Fitzroy apartment I live in has a kitchen that is good to cook in. The apartment is basically a kitchen with a couple of beds.
See that? Distraction. Sorry, I don’t want to waste your time, or, I guess, lose your interest.
I felt alone. And overwhelmed.
By this new venture I was starting.
That’s exciting, huh? After twelve years, building what would become Vinomofo into a hundred million dollar global wine company, team of a hundred…
A new adventure.
For five years, I’ve been standing on stages talking openly to strangers about the failures that marked my path to Vinomofo’s “success”, inferring hopefully with some humility a story of resilience, and this balanced dance on the knife’s edge between stubborn self-belief and brutal self-awareness…
And yet I found myself, once again, inert with – let’s just call it what it is – fear.
A cliff, ominous, four months away, when the money I have will run out. I was feeling the weight of the family who depend on me.
What if this idea isn’t bright enough? Isn’t important? What if no one cares? Or worse for me – will I find myself compromising to generate revenue? Will I become ordinary?
It’s just me.
I’m being a bit cryptic, I’m sorry, but I really want to try to let you into my head. I want you to be able to feel what I was feeling.
I’m André. Until this company I co-founded and was CEO of, Vinomofo, I’d pretty much failed at every business I’d started. And a few careers as well.
I’d built this thing, not alone, that didn’t fail, that was of my heart, and defined me, more perhaps than a business should, and now I’ve left it, not in a blazing moment of clarity and certainty, and not entirely of my own volition, but that’s a story for another time.
And I’m creating something new. Something that in concept is inspiring to me. Deeply connected with my own purpose. My own beliefs and values.
And I find myself afraid.
You might think that because I’d already built something “successful”, had learned so much, had built a good reputation as a founder, and perhaps even a thought leader (cringe) or at least a thought contributor on brand and tribes and culture… that I shouldn’t be feeling this way.
I was a little surprised, too, let me tell you. It’s a fucking awful feeling.
Of course I’ve felt this feeling before. And my normal André response is to go into myself, find a spark of inner strength and belief, build up a bit of a wall around the fear, and step in.
But yesterday I made a decision, and today I’m acting on it.
I decided, simply, to share.
Not just how I felt yesterday, but the founding of my new venture. All of it. My decisions, my feelings, the things I learn, the mistakes I make, the person I am, and this thing I’m building, as it takes shape.
Share the whole fucking adventure, openly, as it happens.
Why am I doing this? It’s not a content strategy, though of course I’m not oblivious to the fact that it will also be that.
I’m doing this because of how I felt yesterday.
Because I want to hold myself accountable – to working hard, to staying true. So I can be uncompromising. Nowhere to hide.
I want to force myself to connect, to collaborate. I’m sitting here, remembering how lonely and overwhelming it can be starting something, on your own. And just thinking about sharing it all – I suddenly don’t feel alone. Nor overwhelmed.
I feel that it will also force me to be humble. To be okay to show that I don’t know everything. That I’m making it up as I go. My learnings are the sum of my own experiences, but also – this is new. Every person I speak with about this is giving me ideas. Teaching me. I want to acknowledge that, and thank them.
I’m nervous about the fact that I’m going to be pitching myself as someone with expertise, and if I reveal that I don’t have all the answers, where then is my value? I guess I have to trust that it’s in my ability to use my brain and my heart to apply everything I learn and believe.
Also come on – I doubt I’m the only person to feel pressure to project knowledge and self-confidence and self-belief.
I’m going to let that go.
I want to go all in. Arms wide, and trust that being HUMAN about it will be right. Maybe it will resonate with someone watching or reading this. Maybe it will give them permission to be flawed, to have doubts.
I think unless I do this with absolute transparency, vulnerability, humility and humanity, then it’ll be boring and self-indulgent.
I want to share the fears, the ideas, the fumblings and the moments of joy and (hopefully) triumph, as they happen, as I build this.
Okay, now suddenly I feel a bit silly. A bit melodramatic. Why would anybody care? Am I just being a wanker?
Ha – there’s that voice again. Hush, voice. This is either right, and important, or it’s not, but I’m going to do it anyway.
So, here we go:
“On Monday 6th August, 2018, as I walked out the door of the board meeting that ended my life as CEO of Vinomofo, I had an idea…”
– TO BE CONTINUED –