If you meet enough entrepreneurial superstars, you realize that a lot of them are nutballs.
Well, not quite.
I like to say that the reason they've done well is that they are on the "right side of crazy."
Think about it. If we all thing about things the same way, we're all likely to end up with the same result.
I had a startup that was acquired by a public company. My venture was their fifty-third acquisition in just over a year. Who does that? Only a crazy person, right?
That gentlemen sold his company for $3.5 billion just a year after he acquired my company. That's what I'm talking about. He was on the right side of crazy, and he did incredibly well because of it.
I was never that crazy, so my entrepreneurial ventures just did well on a more human scale, with exits in the $10 million to $20 million.
That guy is seriously bonkers, but he's worth over $70 billion now. Had he been sane, I suspect he'd be worth just a $100 million or so.
Richard Branson is another right-side-of-crazy entrepreneur who comes to mind. Who picks a fight with somebody like Larry Ellison? But Branson has done well. He's a self-made billionaire who has been quoted as saying "I've never really had the desire to fit in and that's served me well in business. Innovation doesn't come from being comfortable and doing what everyone else is doing."
Well, he wasn't really all that successful as an entrepreneur, what with all the bankruptcies and stiffing so many vendors, but his wackiness did somehow, inexplicably, get him to be President of the United States.
For whatever reason, people have always been attracted to those who are borderline nuts. We want to believe in something big, we want to escape the ordinary, and what better way than to back an entrepreneur who is so different from everyone else that we have to think "So crazy. It just might work" and give them our full support.
On a more somber note, there are some entrepreneurs who have seriously struggled with mental illness, to the point of having some very debilitating and destructive moments.
That's being on the wrong side of crazy, and, as long as we are on that topic, I should note that I am not making light of mental illness at all. It is serious business, and mental health is way, way more important than entrepreneurial success, let's be clear.
I'm not advocating anybody jump off their meds and become an entrepreneur. Rather, the point here is that you if you want to be exceptional, you won't get there by thinking like everyone else.
You need to work on being a little crazy every so often, and, who knows, maybe you'll end up being a massively successful right-side-of-crazy entrepreneur.