I woke up today with crust all over my left eye: Pinkeye. And on the way to the bathroom I stepped on edible gold-leaf dust for decorating cupcakes. And apparently sometime in the night the cat ate my son’s map of Wisconsin. And threw it up.
At times like this, I wish there was a morning-after type anti-depressant that you could take as sort of an immediate pick me up. I remembered my agent once told me that Advil works that way, once in a while. So I popped a couple.
They did not work. I put antibiotics in my eye and tossed on an old sweatshirt and jeans that are so big they fit like sweat pants. And I headed out the door to go work.
Then I turned around, and went back in the house.
I think people do startups for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we are not even sure what the reasons are until after we get started.
The way I dealt with the trauma was blogging every day (therapeutic structure to a crazy life) in my pajamas (a nod to the fact that I was working alone and in fundamental disarray).
For the most part, when I had to show up to meet someone somewhere, I would pull things together a bit. Although when Ben Casnocha met me in Madison for breakfast his first comment was, “You don’t look like your photo.” And when I met Rebecca Thorman, she blogged about my ratty shoes.
So it was clear that I wasn’t holding things together that well. And when I convinced Ryan and Ryan to move to Madison to start a new business with me, I decided I had to go back to dressing up for work. Not suit and skirt or anything like that. But not pajamas. Not ratty sneakers.
And something happened – immediately I felt differently because I was back to getting dressed to go to work, because there were people I had to see every day. This moment converged nicely with the blossoming of my speaking career, which is one of the most lucrative career moves I’ve ever made, so I spent a lot of time at Bloomingdales, buying Joe’s Jeans and DKNY tops, to replace the expensive jeans and black tops that I bought six years ago, which was the last time I had to get dressed to go to work.
Then I started wearing makeup. Not a lot, but enough so that I could mark the difference between cleaning up cat puke and writing a blog post. And I felt a little more organized, a little more focused.
So today, I walked out of my house in ratty clothes and no makeup and I turned around. Because now I know that one way to feel better – maybe the most noninvasive anti-depressant of all – is to get dressed up to do work. The best days of work are those when I have the self-confidence to attack the hardest things on my to-do list with the most vigor. And one way to bolster self-confidence is to dress like someone who is self-confident.