Today, I'm going to share with you the secret dark side of entrepreneurship and how it has taken a toll on me (and my family). Trigger Warnings: Abuse & Suicide
Don't worry...there's light at the end of this tunnel because I'm also going to share my plan of action to turn the ship around.
Growing up, I was physically abused.
It was pretty common for Asian kids to get physically disciplined, but I think my dad took things too far sometimes. I'll just leave it at that... ;)
At the age of 13, he committed suicide and left my mom, my 4 year old sister and me to face the world on our own.
Honestly, up until that point...I don't really remember much of my childhood. I've read that children who experience trauma can repress their memories in a subconscious attempt to dissociate with those experiences.
I'll skip past college because that's a story for another day, but I graduated in 2007 with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Washington.
To fast forward my time as an engineer:
- Duration 2 years
- Hired for 4 jobs
- Laid off 4 times
The 4th layoff would be the end of my career as an engineer. I was unemployed and frankly, UNEMPLOYABLE.
Over the next 2 years, I would be searching "how to make money online" every day while my friends were all busy going to their jobs, making money and building their careers.
It was a hard time watching them take off while I literally had no idea what to do as my credit card balances started racking up and bank account was drying up.
At one point, I had less than $100 in my account with 5 maxed out credit cards and a $80,000 USAA cadet loan I took out in college to support my mom and myself.
I eventually stumbled upon something called SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing a website in order to increase the position of that website for various keywords in search engines like Google.
Having a background in mechanical engineering is why I believe I got pretty good at it.
This is how my journey started.
As I think back to the 9 failed businesses that it took me to get here, I can't help but realize a few things...
- how many relationships I sacrificed (I've never been in anybody's wedding party because I chose to stay home Fridays/Saturdays to work instead of go out with friends)
- how much I sacrificed my health (countless late nights burning the midnight oil because I chose not to listen to my body and SLEEP)
- how the drive to succeed consumed me (even when we started making really good money, we lived like we were dirt poor so I could reinvest everything back into the business)
Having a traumatic childhood followed by getting into a mountain of debt made something snap inside of me. I became very impatient and aggressive when it came to work.
I never let the aggressiveness manifest into my family life, but I can admit with 100% confidence that I'm a very impatient husband and father.
When I get upset, I don't verbally or physically do anything, but I make it very obvious that I'm upset and as a result...my family has to walk on egg shells around me.
I always said things to Soo Jin like "I'm working hard like this for you and the kids and the way I am is part of who I need to be to be successful."
At the end of the day, if I'm doing this for THEM...the question I should've asked a long time ago was "do they WANT this life I'm trying to build?"
At the end of the day, I've been selfishly working late nights, missing family movie nights, snapping at my children, ignoring my wife because I have insecurities and I felt being a successful entrepreneur would fill that void.
I was wrong.
The only thing that'll fill this void in my life is love from the 3 people I love most in this world. (my wife and 2 girls)
So here's the plan...
On Fridays, I'm going to spend my day on self improvement.
This could either be reading, listening to audiobooks, taking courses or seeing a therapist.
In addition to sharing exciting new product development updates and asking for your feedback, I'll be sharing my progress as I try to untangle the web of trauma in my life and become the kind of dad my kids need and the husband that Soo Jin deserve.
I'd love....ABSOLUTELY LOVE any advice you have for me along the way. Hope my journey can help you as well.