Psychotherapy for Entrepreneurs
Therapy and Executive Coaching with Entrepreneurs
After the publication of the Hypomanic Edge, I gave dozens of talks around the country to groups of entrepreneurs, CEOs, and venture capitalists, and in every talk there was what I called “the eureka moment” when, three sentences into the talk, their eyes would go wide, and they would suddenly realize that they and/or virtually every entrepreneurs they had ever encountered have this mildly manic temperament.
It explains a lot. Not once did anyone in any of these audiences disagree!
But one venture capitalist took me aside and said, “You’ve just described every entrepreneur I’ve ever worked with, but the problem is we end up firing half of them,” a sentiment I heard often.
In a New York Times Business section article, “Just manic enough,” I explain how well an entrepreneur channels their hypomanic energy is what often makes the difference between success and failure, and indeed that’s what venture capitalists assess when they are sizing up a CEO.
That’s where our work can help.
I do a lot of work with entrepreneurs, usually a blend of therapy and executive coaching, that can be very valuable both psychologically and financially.
Establishing a meditation practice is key to harness the power of your creative energy, while still being able to slow down, take in what others are saying, and reflect before acting.
I emphasize how to gain self-control while at the same time not losing one’s creative edge, working to capitalize on hypomania’s strengths such as energy, drive, creativity, confidence and charisma, while also guarding against its liabilities such as arrogance, impatience, irritability and impulsivity to maximize success.
I’ve helped my clients make money, by supporting their creativity, and equally important, helped them avoid losing money, by avoiding the classic hypomanic entrepreneurial mistakes:
- Leaping forward impulsively without considering all the risks and roadblocks—what one client described as “ready, shoot, aim”
- Failing to listen to others who raise legitimate concerns, which both causes mistakes and alienates colleagues and co-workers
- Being overly optimistic about how quickly cash will flow in and products will roll out.
Given that cashflow problems are one of the most common reasons for a business to fail, this last point is important.
I sometimes say hypomanic entrepreneurs should have a side mirror on their car that says “objects are farther away than they appear.”
Assume everything will take 2.5 times longer and cost 2.5 times more than you predict and you can save a good company from going under.
“Are Americans rich because they’re nuts? That’s the thesis of a new book, The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, by John D. Gartner, a psychotherapist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. America may be the dominant force in the global economy because we’re a nation made of somewhat Crazy Eddies—gonzo businessmen and women who may be genetically predisposed to take big-time risks. It sounds right. Creativity and genius have often been linked to mental illness. Many virtuoso painters, composers, and architects are a little kooky. Why not entrepreneurs?”
–Daniel Gross, “Crazy Rich,” Slate, 2/15/05
“It’s about degrees,” says John D. Gartner, a psychologist and author of “The Hypomanic Edge.” “If you’re manic, you think you’re Jesus. If you’re hypomanic, you think you are God’s gift to technology investing.”—David Segal, “Just manic enough: seeking the perfect entrepreneur,”
–New York Times Business Day, 9/18/10
The Hypomanic Edge
Named one of the 100 most “notable new ideas” in the world in 2005–New York Times Magazine, “Year in Ideas” issue.
“A book that gets to the heart of the entrepreneurial personality…”American entrepreneurs are largely hypomanic,” writes Gartner. “Hypomanics are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence and really big ideas. They think, talk, move and make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions ‘just doesn’t get it.’ Hypomanics are not crazy, but ‘normal’ is not the first word that comes to mind when describing them. Hypomanics live on the edge, between normal and abnormal.”
– Richard Karlgaard, “Blessed are the hypomanic,” Forbes, 6/2/06
“For centuries scholars have tried to explain the American character…A professor of psychiatry attributes American exceptionalism to a new and hitherto unsuspected source: American DNA. He argues that the United States is full of energetic risk-takers because it’s full of immigrants, who as a group may carry a genetic marker that expresses itself as a restless curiosity, exuberance, and competitive self-promotion—a combination known as hypomania”
– New York Times Magazine, “Year in Ideas” issue, 12/11/05
See more at The Hypomanic Edge website.