Don’t Be Afraid, Be a Superhero
Have you ever stood at the edge of the high dive at the deep end of the pool, desperately wondering whether or not to just will yourself over the edge? I think
we all had that experience at least once when we were kids, letting fear overcome us as we would shamefully climb back down the ladder. This is very reminiscent of the plight of the entrepreneur, or rather, those who want to be. Much like jumping off the high dive, there is no “maybe” or “kind of”. You either jump or you don’t.
Jason Nazar, the co-founder and CEO of Docstoc, relates to fear in a practical way because he believes strongly that it is fear that keeps people with creative minds from diving into the deep end. “The journey is never smooth, nor is it meant to be, but I think that’s what makes it fulfilling and purposeful and also why not everyone does it,” Nazar reveals. The CEO began his own journey as early as age 6, in which he admits he became an elementary school loan shark of sorts. He had his fellow students borrow money from him with interest after signing a contract; though his first venture landed him in the principal’s office, it solidified his place among those swimming in the deep end of the entrepreneurial pool.
Nazar grew up in a traditional Jewish household, inheriting the “hard work pays off in America” mindset from his Persian father, who immigrated to New York in the 1950’s and met Jason’s mother, who recognized Jason’s promise early on. From the beginning, Nazar was instilled with the idea of self-sufficiency from his father, who had only ever worked for himself and found success in Los Angeles real estate.
Nazar rekindled his passion for financial self-sufficiency towards the end of college, earning a business degree and a law degree while balancing budgets as the student body president at UCSD. After graduation and short stints in public speaking, marketing, his own consulting company and even a hypnosis show, Nazar realized the idea of Docstoc.com, which he describes as “a place where people [can] get access to any business, legal, financial or professional documents they [need] fast, easy and free.”
Through the process of creating and maintaining his business, Nazar has had his fair share of fear, whether by doubt or financial issues. Nazar admits “it instills a lot of fear and I think that fear is most of the time very healthy because it’s what gives you the impetus to figure out how to get something done.” However, if not properly managed, fear can be very debilitating to the point of feeling extreme doubt, despair and depression.
“Entrepreneurs just jump into a situation and they know or they anticipate that things are going to get really hard, and they don’t have the answers, but they say to themselves ‘When I get to that point, I’ll figure it out then,’” Nazar states in earnest. “Whereas people say they want to be entrepreneurs but never do it—they let that fear of the unknown paralyze them from taking that next step.”
Just like focusing on the leap instead of the fall from the diving board, most realize that after the initial splash, the water feels fine. “Once you’ve started the business and you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have any money, there’s certainly an aspect of fear, but the reality of it is often less paralyzing than the anticipation of the moment,” Nazar says, speaking from experience. The CEO’s statements amount to the fact that you can never let the initial pain ruin the pleasure you get from calling a venture your own.
Of course, Nazar has some of the best examples in reality and fiction to draw inspiration from—superheroes; this is an easy notion to grasp when you visit his office, which looks more like the Marvel Comics corporate office with all its superhero motifs. “I often talk to our team about this idea: ‘Think of yourself as a superhero,’” and from the office décor, one should feel like a member of the Justice League or Avengers (whichever universe you may adore more).
Nazar himself wrote an article entitled “10 Things Startups Can Learn from Superheroes” in which he describes the main tenants he and his team adhere to:
1. Are the best at what they do
2. Always get the job done
3. Accomplish huge feats (make major differences or changes in the world)
4. Are powerful by themselves, but they’re more effective in teams
Nazar likens his team of talented individuals to a team of superheroes because he finds the above tenants to be a great business plan. He finds solace in the fact that each person is as passionate about the business as he is and has been able to generate something that is both powerful and meaningful to the community at large. The co-founder offers this final advice to would-be entrepreneurs: “don’t wait, do it now”; as for current entrepreneurs, he says this: “You’re not alone in your struggles, so to overcome your fears, you must stand tall and defeat them like the superhero you are.”
Are you still frightened to jump into the water, afraid you might sink? Sometimes the best way to get past the fear is as the Green Lantern does—through sheer willpower. It is the will to act and the will to do something outside of your comfort zone that takes an ordinary person and elevates them to something else entirely, perhaps even superhuman. Our favorite superheroes never give up, no matter how dire the consequences of failure may seem. Heck, you may find that once you’ve jumped in and resurfaced for a breath of air, the water will be just the right temperature and you will be able to start swimming in the sweet waters of creation, innovation and implementation.