Confessions from a Twenty Three Year Old CEO

I think I am a weirdo.

My age is something that I prefer to not bring up–if I can just forget it and cast it into oblivion. But I think I cannot just do that. I have to yield to it at some point, and probably even to reality. Most especially since I have a feat that I need to drill into my thick skull: That I started a startup in my twenty three years of living. I am a twenty three year old CEO. And the startup that I started, which I started with zero financial capital, still lives after almost one year of being founded!

This experience is something that I want to poke at, to think about, to learn from, to dissect, to treasure, and yes, to write on.

These points that I will be sharing may be jumbled, but here are the lessons that I learned from this crazy of an adventure that you might also learn from.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who plan to juggle a dayjob and a startup, read on!

Time Management

This may not be an important thing if you have your hands free for your startup (or your dayjob), but when you have a dayjob and a startup, pro time management skills is a must! You’re working two jobs at the same time! The other has a distinct clear future and it pays your bills; The other is a high-risk-high-reward venture that may not pay anything yet.

I believe some of the actions for this then is to develop effective time management strategies and a commitment to be purposeful in the usage of time. And last but not the least, to not just work hard, but WORK SMART.

Psychological Management

A GREAT part of the strains of startup is psychological stress. I think this is highly the case if you’re also the CEO of the group. There’s only so much that you can handle. The stress, your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical weariness — these are heavy and they will take a toll on you.

Some of the actions then, just like above, is to develop effective strategies for dealing with stress. Your self-talk, your feelings, your thoughts, your determination, your vision, your habits, your systems, your environment, your faith, etc. Most of them basically revolves around how you manage your self. I believe self-management is a very important part of this experience.

On Growth

I think that in terms of technical growth, personal and character development, and networking opportunities, I am growing faster than most of my peers. I’m working more than the standard 40 hours a week. I’m being exposed to more technical problems and solutions. I’m meeting and talking to more people. I’m solving more problems crossing across diverse natures and disciplines. My speed of gaining experience and the areas where I gain experience is much more demanding and robust.

This also became evident with my dayjob. As a result, I had been entrusted with more responsibilities, I had more confidence, I was faster, and I also became more inquisitive of how the systems, processes, and business of our company work, which to me previously was hiding from plain sight.

This is also the stage where I came face to face with my own immaturity and lack of experience. When you’re twenty three and you started an initiative with people who are more experienced than you, you can’t help but see it. But it is how you take it as a learning opportunity that I consider to be most important.

On Pain, On Grit

I have to admit that a lot of days I just want to give up: Mornings where I wake up and start the day by questioning my own existence: Nights where I cry out of pressure: Vacations where I can’t take my mind from work, etc.

The days then will come where you will start to question everything. Your motivations, your actions, your plans, your life. But from there, I found a solid foundation upon where my motivations and dreams are laid. So I find the grit to press on. And I find a stronger source of light that lives within.

One of the lines from a successful entrepreneur that I can’t forget is this one: “Running a startup is like eating glass and staring into the void.”

Running a startup is painful. But it also develops a stronger will, a stronger mind, a stronger heart, a stronger grit.

On Grace

One thing that I also learned from this experience is this: That I need to practice grace. Not only towards others, but most especially towards my self. Ideally to be gracious as how the Lord is gracious.

After all, we are just beggars of of grace.

On Moving Forward

My sister said that I now achieved a childhood dream of mine: To be a CEO. I really hadn’t thought about it. But if I now think about it, it is kind of true to a degree. I am indeed living the dream.

The doubts, the struggles, the weariness, the uncertainty, they all contribute to the pain that keeps me from practicing gratitude. But having a mind for gratitude is important.

And from this gratitude, I’m moving forward. Despite the struggles, I’m learning more about the world. I’m getting progress.

On Progress

We initially named our startup “Progress” because we want to have progress.

After wanting to revise our name, I suggested to name us “Progressia” because I want our startup to become a symbol of progress: A group of people who are working towards progress, not just for ourselves, but for our people and our nation.

We want change.

We are working towards progress.

In the case that if we fail, we will actually not since we stand as “people who are working towards progress.”

Win or lose, we will still win.

It’s a win-win scenario.

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