[This is a weekly series that brings you raw, first-hand experiences from founders and investors in the trenches. Their story submissions are anonymous, allowing them to share openly without fear of retribution. Every Wednesday, we’ll run one new story chosen by Dana Severson, who operates StartupsAnonymous, a place for startups to share, ask questions, and answer them in story-length posts, all anonymously. You can share your own story here.]
If you were to ask, you’d probably discover that most founders have a secret or two following them around. In most cases, those secrets are probably nothing more than just your run-of-the-mill, most embarrassing moment.
However, for some, revealing their secret could mean they’d lose the trust of their cofounders, confidence of their employees, or possibly their career.
On the other hand, remaining quiet can be damaging as well, especially mentally.
To give these founders an opportunity to free their mind and speak openly, we asked them to anonymously share what they’ve kept quiet. Here’s what they had to say:
- “I have OCD and ADD, but do a really good job of hiding it! I tell them I’m a great multi-tasker when truthfully I can’t focus on just one thing because of my ADD. OCD is a little easier to hide because it’s mostly germ related. I can usually find excuses to avoid sharing food and haven’t had to exchange much physical contact with my team. I do say I need to use the restroom frequently as an excuse to slip away and wash my hands whenever I am feeling contaminated. “
- “My partners believe I’m an extrovert when really I’m an introvert. Not that big of deal, except I’m the face and voice of the company. I really, really hate talking to groups of people, which is a big part of my responsibilities.”
- “My coworkers don’t know that, after closing time, I’m a stripper. Yes, a stripper, not a dancer. I take off my clothes and give lap dances for extra cash. It doesn’t affect my day-to-day work, but if word got out, it would be career suicide.”
- “I start everyday with a bottle of champagne and then make 10 phone calls I was too sober to make the day before.”
- “I am dyslexic. I can read and write and no one would ever guess, but try as I might, I’m famous for my random typos. I usually blame technology and make a joke out of it, but mostly I just don’t see things right when typing.”
- “I was born into a single parent home. No one in my family went to college, in fact, most didn’t finish high school. I lived in Meadowview (in Northern California), dubbed “danger island” by locals. Danger island was full of drug addicts, drug dealers, gangs, and gang wars. Drive-by shootings and home invasions were commonplace. My brother was a Meadowview Blood. His gang activity resulted in our house being shot up–twice! My first sexual experience was at 15…forced at gunpoint. While I broke the cycle by completing high school, and enrolling in and subsequently finishing college, I was a young, unwed mother at the age of 20. I landed my first corporate job at Intel Corporation, excelled at the beginning of my career, then faced an unbreakable glass and racial ceiling. This was my catalyst to leave Corporate America and launch a business where I could own my own destiny. Little did I know I would be a pioneer in the natural hair care market!”
- “I’m deathly afraid of flying, but need to do it constantly for my work. The only way I can fly is when I’m drunk. Suffice it to say, I’ve had plenty of early morning flights and had to show up to meetings while I was hammered. I try to disguise it as best I can, but I’m sure that my clients can tell.”
[illustration by Brad Jonas]