Why Starting a Company Is Completely Irrational

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I once read a book by Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist researching decision-making from USC, about a man who had lost the capacity to feel emotions after he was struck by lightning. Much to my surprise, his man was totally incapable of making decisions.

His cognitive ability, the capacity to process and analyze data, remained fully intact. He could articulate the pros and cons of every alternative to each decision. His logical ability was flawless. But, he never could decide on an option.

There’s something indescribable about the decision to start a company; it’s frustrating to explain to someone else who doubts your decision. You can rationalize it and list the pros and cons, but ultimately it’s the emotional commitment to a vision or to a team that drives us to make the leap.

And what a thrill irrationality is.

Published 2013-07-11 in


I am partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

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