How’s it going? Yeah, Not Bad! Really?
OK, so this is the second time I’ve managed to publish something. Assuming it gets published. I’ve just looked at my drafts and there is a pattern forming in there.
Something I’ve noticed happens a lot, especially with the men in my circles, Is the “Yeah, Not Bad” response. We seem to be scared of telling things exactly as they are. There are many times there is much, much more hidden behind that response and it’s really hit me that I’m doing it a LOT lately.
My current situation is I’m working for a start-up that’s struggling for investment. People love our idea, the product is growing from strength to strength through the help of some highly engaged users and us working on their feedback. We completed YCombinator summer school and are doing all the things the videos and books tell you that you should be doing but it’s still not taken off yet. We were one of the two winners of Tech Nation’s Rising Stars 20222 Durham City awards, we have done some great work with The National Innovation Center for Data and Amazon’s loft Program, Things just don’t seem to be clicking at the moment.
I have no problems with “graft”, “Grind” or hard work. I’ve done that all my life. From retraining to being a Web Developer after working as an Engineer for Black & Decker/DeWalt whilst having a young family and being a rugby coach. Being up at 4 am learning and building sites was not an issue. It was hard work but I got a Jnr role and worked my way up. All the while answering the question How’s it going? with “Yeah, not bad”. Money was tight debts were rising and having to prove yourself as a Junior who is older than some of the seniors was tough going. This competitiveness stems from having a very high-performing brother and always being in his shadow but Yeah, Not bad. Is always the answer.
This has been the case for the 15 years plus of my carer in tech. I’ve been in and out of start-ups for the past 8 years trying to make things happen. I’ve worked pretty much every day whilst my father lay in intensive care following a heart attack the only day I took off was his funeral. All the time the answer was “Yeah, not bad”
It’s now 2022 I’m a co-founder trying to get a start-up off the ground that I can see will help vast numbers of people. It’s during a cost of living crisis and probably the most economically unstable time I can remember. We have very little in the way of cash coming into the house savings are dwindling. We have our eldest at the University and were trying to support him as much as we can. I still have commitments to the football team I've coached and managed for the last 5 years trying to keep them together and top of the table for what may be our final season as our club doesn’t often go past U16s. I’m trying to get my own consultancy off the ground to bring in some money. Side note learning the ins and outs of business is far harder than learning anything in tech has ever been. (Actually, Crystal Reports probably wasn't far off).
All of the above still had me replying with the answer “Yeah, not bad”. What really hit me was when my wife come home from shopping and was nearly in tears because she couldn’t afford to start the Christmas shopping or we would struggle to eat. DAMN!!!! “Yeah not bad”, Really? It has hit me that I genuinely don’t know. I’m torn. Things have never felt this hard or bleak. I’ve never in the past wanted to just sit and cry because I don’t know what to do for the best. I could find a well-paid developer job and hide back in the office of some mediocre company that has half-decent pay and benefits dress down Fridays and Christmas shut down’s. It feels like things would become much easier with that security blanket of a paycheck at the end of the month. It seems simple, am I mad to not do this? BUT…… Then I look at how far Fundify has come and how close it is. I have a realisation that without trying too hard I’ve managed to land 2 days a week helping in a great agency helping them push things to the next level and potentially build a product of their own. We still have enough savings to struggle for a while, which is more than many have and there is still plenty of opportunities for decent jobs in web development and tech should things really go Pete Tong. Should I be worried? Are my anxiety and panic attacks well founded or am I falling for all the doom and gloom in the media? I genuinely don’t know but even in this space of trying to put this down in some form, my mindset has switched from despair to excitement a number of times.
So is the answer still “Yeah, Not Bad”? You know what I think it is but at the same time this is a deep hole and if it wasn’t for having an amazing family, especially my wife, some absolutely awesome friends and still being able to afford a Disney+ subscription I don’t know where I’d be. All I do know is there is still hope I have the skills and the resilience to get me through so maybe it is “Yeah, Not Bad”
As I finish this I was thinking about reviewing and editing it. The goal of the article was to discuss men’s mental health and how we hide it but this went down a more personal path. It’s not something I would usually do and have never been comfortable with especially online. So I’ve decided to leave it in the raw state it’s in and use it as the therapy it became. Sorry if it is a bit self-indulgent and of no use to others but similarly if someone can identify with this and it makes them think a little then great. If you are struggling and need a chat hit me up. If you are looking for a consultant/developer/mentor for your team also hit me up. I just fired out my first attempt at the website for Digital Infamy https://digitalinfamy.com we have also just pushed the latest incarnation of our offering for a platform to help individuals find grant Funding https://v2.wearefundify.org.uk