Dysfunction is the essence of entrepreneurship. I've had dozens of requests from places like Harvard and Yale to talk about the subject. It makes me laugh that ivy leaguers are so keen to "learn" how to be entrepreneurs, because I'm not convinced it's a subject you can teach. I mean, how do you teach obsession? Because it is obsession that drives the entrepreneur's commitment to a vision of something new.
There is a fine line between the delinquent mind of an entrepreneur and a crazy person. The entrepreneur's dream is almost a kind of madness, and is almost as isolating. The nature of the entrepreneur's successful idea is that no one else has had it; by definition, your vision usually isn't shared by others.
The difference between the crazy person and the successful entrepreneur is, of course, that the latter can convince others to share the vision. That force of will is fundamental to entrepreneurship. Like a genie in a bottle, the idea is nothing unless someone can exploit it, which is another thing that separates entrepreneurs from everyone else. They act on what they see, think, and feel. And why are they that way?
Blame the dark side of entrepreneurship. If the entrepreneurs I'm familiar with didn't have disadvantaged childhoods, they were at least pushed into adulthood early on. They all share a sense of loss, which only deepens as the companies they created grow up and away from them. That in turn compounds the feeling of isolation.
Is it any harder for a female entrepreneur? Cliché claims that women bosses run a caring, sharing ship. According to the results of a Manchester Business School study, the truth is otherwise. The survey says women at the top are tough cookies, autocrats who rule by fear. But I wonder if that isn't a misreading of the entrepreneurial spirit, regardless of gender. The entrepreneur, whether male or female, is often great at starting something, but not so good at running it.
We entrepreneurs are loners, vagabonds, troublemakers. Success is simply a matter of finding and surrounding ourselves with those open-minded and clever souls who can take our insanity and put it to good use.