For most of my life, I’ve struggled to put a harness on my rampant ADHD. In my 20’s, I looked to prescriptions to try and ‘fix’ my attention span; seeking to put a chemical harness on my mind in order to steer it.
That didn’t work.
I tried all of them. Ritalin, startera, vivance, adderall, modafinil (the pill from the movie Limitless) and even zoloft, which was hastily prescribed by a doctor who thought I needed to ‘come down’ in order to focus. The only thing that pill did for me was turn me into an emotional zombie, and remove any function I had from below the ‘belt’.
The older I get, the more I realize how much I haven’t felt the need to ‘grow up’ like most people say you should. You know, getting a usual J-O-B, ball-and-chaining myself to a 30-year loan and amortizing a white picket fence so I can tell people I ‘bought’ a house.
That doesn’t sound like much of a life at all, if you ask me. You didn’t.
Now that Atlas is a toddler, I’m starting to understand why people think there’s something wrong if they can’t focus on one thing for longer than a designated time period – it’s because we weren’t designed to work that way, as human beings.
In life, there’s a lot of ordering around and external forces that dictate how you’re supposed to live if you want to ‘fit in’ to society.
Given how the last few years turned out, I’m really happy I didn’t ‘fit in’ or trust the propaganda that demanded I turn myself into a human guinea pig for a profiteering pharmaceutical company.
I think that all of us have a responsibility to live our lives according to our own set of guiding principles. In my case, I felt a strong sense of conviction that the numbers we were being fed on the news for the last few years were a big pile of bullshit – and they were.
These days, I look at the usual path we’re told to walk in order to be ‘successful’ and I feel as if I smell a rat there, as well.
We live in a world where technology can perform tasks for us, and labor can be hired at an affordable rate. Thus, there’s no reason that any of us should have to give a majority of our lives to jobs that barely manage to put food on the table, or require on our 1-1 effort of time in order to operate.
I spent nearly three years of my life working at Expensify, the now-public tech giant of the FinTech world. At the time, I remember the sense of team spirit that kept everybody working in harmony; we were all working toward a goal, while having the time of our lives pursuing it.
I at my first thousand-dollar meal when I worked there, as well as travelled the world on the company dime. Prior to my move to Portland, one of the leaders at the company sat down with me and explained I was on track to become a leader within the company if I played my cards right.
It felt like a scene from a movie…
”I’m sorry, sir…but the crick in my back is keeping me from bending down to kiss the ass of ******”
Needless to say, I was quickly on my way out the door of that company, despite going through several rounds of pay raises and added responsibilities.
At the time, I remember having several chats with people at the company about our stock options. We had the option of buying company stock for around $22 per share, which was deducted from our salary.
“At a minimum, we expect the price to quadruple when we go public, if not 10X”
I can’t tell you the number of times I heard those words from directors at the company, who all promised us that our investment in the company was the best bet we could make.
Prior to leaving the company, I decided to cash out my stock options and instead take the cash. I remember how stupid I felt as I watched the company ring the bell at the NYSE, thinking that I had somehow missed an easy stack of cash.
For over two years, I had routine nightmares about being at the office and somehow not working there – feeling unwelcome and out of place. Those dreams haunted me a lot more than I ever cared to share, because I never wanted it to seem like I had any level of regret hanging around my neck, but I did.
Expensify opened around $3.41 per share this morning, nearly a 93% drop from their IPO price. Had I stayed with the company and put my money into their stock, my investment would be worth about 25% of what I had put into the company.
At the peak of their successes, Expensify was earning nearly $1M per employee. Wasn’t that enough? Couldn’t the company have been turned into an employee-owned-and-operated company, and the people who gave it years of their life could have actually realized their dreams instead of seeing their portfolios plummet 92%
That’s a great question.
I’ll never forget as I walked out of the building on my last day, the CEO barely even acknowledged me as I thanked him for my time at the company. His net worth dropped from over $200M to less than 15 in less than two years, and his marriage fell apart while he ‘invested’ his life into building that company.
It was really hard to get fired from that company. However, I share this story because it’s part of my own way of healing and acknowledging that sometimes life takes you in directions that are really uncomfortable at the moment, but they result in something beautiful.
Expensify fanned my passion for travel, and it gave me the ‘exit ramp’ to spend several years of my life living in other countries. However, a future there wasn’t meant to be in my cards, and I didn’t fully understand until years after walking out of ‘the bank’ for the last time in my life.
I think it’s really important to take an inventory of your life and look at all of the circumstances that had different outcomes than you forecast at the time. It helps you to understand the moments you were ‘wrong’ while reinforcing the times in your life where you did the right thing, no matter how difficult.