Addict, Entrepreneur or Both?

On May 3rd, 2004, I walked into a rehab at 42 years of age.  Being an addict/recovering addict is a wild ride that is difficult to understand for almost everyone, including me.  As a personal problem, it hijacked my life on many occasions.  As a societal problem, it demands more resources on a yearly basis than the Iraq War. I can’t tell whether I was an addict or an entrepreneur first.  Peter Drucker says, “The entrepreneur is willing to put his or her career and financial security on the line and take risks in the name of an idea.”  With just a small tweak Peter Drucker’s statement could describe an addict, here is a small rewrite, the addict is willing to put his financial security and life on the line and take risks in the name of a substance.

In my 20’s, the first time I got clean, I risked my Mommy’s $5,000 loan to begin my first technology business Computer Physicians.  Over a few years, Computer Physicians’ success turned me into a Yuppie.  By 1994, I was bored.  I felt I enslaved by my own business.  I needed out.  I took a sabbatical and went sailing for about six months.  This impulsive move was disruptive to the business, my partner Marc, my relationship with Berni and my recovery.

I tried to start a couple of other technology companies hoping that I’d be happy.  The next nine years I got further and further from happiness.  I kept thinking that money, success or building a company would do it for me.  Nope.  It didn’t fix me.  Eventually in 2001, I relapsed.  In another blog, I’ll talk more about that.  In May of 2004, I stumbled or crumbled into rehab.

My life took a monumental step forward 11 years ago the day I saw the parallel between being an entrepreneur and an addict.  It hit me like a tsunami.  Luckily I had an internet connection and a computer in rehab.  I imagined using entrepreneurship to help alleviate the damage addiction does to the individual and society.  That thought organized my life.  In my soul, I knew I was an entrepreneur and an addict.  Combining both gave me purpose.  Soon on I was studying the missions and approach of the Skoll Foundation, Pacific Community Ventures, Investors’ Circle and other sites that opened my imagination and inspiration to social entrepreneurship.

It has always been easy for me to borrow and deploy.  This time, I borrowed from Muhammad Yunus, Investors Circle, Pacific Community Ventures, mixed them all up and started the 12 Angels.  The 12 Angels’ mission is to provide the investment capital, consultation and mentorship to support sustainable businesses that help alleviate the individual and societal destruction caused by addiction and mental health disorders.  Businesses we support vary from healthcare service and biotech to companies that create jobs for recovering addicts, giving them a chance to enjoy productive and healthy lives.

We are going to be launching 12 Angels version 3 in June of 2016, from scratch.  If you are interested in helping build version 3, send me an email at alex@12angels.org.  Stay Tuned!

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