What Daytime TV Can Teach You About Startup Stress

August 16, 2016

9:43 am

The first episode of Silicon Valley features the main character Richard throwing up in a doctor’s office because the guy can’t handle a seemingly impossible choice: Taking the money or keeping the company. The cheery doctor tells him it’s, “Just a garden variety panic attack. Welcome to Silicon Valley.”

Maybe Richard should have gone on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” to prepare.

The intricate rules of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” can attract the right kind of person: Someone who understands statistics, and can use them to know when to guess and when not to. Simply studying the odds can calm your nerves when you’re faced with an inevitable situation and start feeling that startup stress.

Prep Work Can Immediately Reduce Your Anxiety

An article from an ex-contestant and current Quartz editorial assistant, Molly Rubin, explores these options in depth. The whole article is fascinating, but the ultimate takeaway is exactly the sort of data-based answer that any anxiety-ridden Silicon Valley entrepreneur could use. Here’s Rubin towards the end of the piece:

“When I applied for this job here at Quartz, I combed through more than 100 articles on the site. I looked up every journalist and picked my favorites, so I could talk about their work with confidence. I researched the people I was interviewing with on LinkedIn. I asked my friends who work in journalism for tips, and I did a practice interview run-through with my boyfriend at home the night before. After all that practice and planning, I wasn’t nervous or caught off guard during the interview, and at the end of the day, I got the job.”

Tech Decisions Are Rarely Obvious

You’ll make choices about your startup that are never clear or easy. But if you rely on the data, you’ll know what the odds are that one choice should be taken above the others. You’ll be able to make the smart decision. You’ll also be able to be wrong more gracefully, without falling apart, since you’ll have always known it was an option. And dealing with startup stress by consulting the data is a move that should be pretty natural to tech-lovers, anyway.

Most importantly, when it’s time to walk away from a deal, you’ll be able to know why you did and keep from wondering “what if.” Rubin walked away once the stats were against her, and she got a cool $68K out of the deal.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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