Last week's festivities and this week's already-harried activities have really driven home a point for me when it comes to being an entrepreneur: You have to 'contain the crazy'.
One of my favorite quotes is that "all people are crazy, but that we gradually learn how to behave sane in public". Entrepreneurs constantly walk that line between crazy and genius, and sometimes the crazy squeaks out a little too much and alienates potential investors or customers.
By crazy, I don't necessarily mean mental-instability, although the startup community is rife with that issue as well, but more the million different balls up in the air for most startups. If you are running a company, you know what I mean. Any given day is a melee of activity, and when you are consumed with it, it's hard not to speak on that level in every conversation you have with people. People who, most probably, confuse your ability to multitask with borderline insanity.
One positive example to use as an archetype for this is a gourmet restaurant. If you've ever worked in food service, you can attest that the experience on the kitchen side of the door and the customer side of the door are polar opposites.
Consider the finest restaurant in the United States, The French Laundry, in Yountville California. They have a lovely garden that you can retreat to between the multitude of delicious courses that affords you a glimpse of these poles in stark contrast.
Through the window on your left is the dining room, a haven of zen-like calmness and simple elegance where the waitstaff are omnipresent yet unobtrusive. You dine in serene simplicity that amplifies the amazing dishes being placed in front of you.
Through the window on your right is the kitchen which is akin to watching a well-choreographed fight sequence from an epic war movie. People and implements are flying around, seemingly at random, but actually in a symphony of movement with complex logic and synchrony behind every motion.
Never once does the constrained-chaos of the kitchen bleed into the haven of the dining room. Not once. As far as you know, these delicacies sprung forth fully-formed from Chef Thomas Keller's toque like Athena from Zeus' forehead, and not from a legion of perfectionist culinary ninjas. They keep that complexity obscured so as not to draw the focus away from their product, their message, their experience.
As entrepreneurs, we need to do the same with customers and investors. We need to make their experience with us a zen-like interaction with our brands, products and services, never aware of the complexity just on the other side of the door. It's not going to add to their experience to know that you had to pull an all-nighter to fix the bugs, it's going to raise concern about product stability. You don't want to lay bare all the nuances of your business to a prospective investor until they have expressed determined interest in investing and you have shifted to due diligence.
It's up to you to behave in public, on the dining room side of the door, and contain the crazy. That's yours alone to savor.