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Staying grounded

Created by Kauffman Foundation.

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Video transcript

- My name is Toby Rush, I'm CEO and founder of EyeVerify. I was fortunate to grow up in one of the most entrepreneurial environments anyone can ever dream of, and it's called the farm. I was throwing hay when I was in junior high. My dad bought me a couple of pigs and said, "you take care of the feed and the vet fee" and then I sold those and bought more, and then I bought a couple cows and then I started doing hay and then I had my own straw business. I didn't think I was creating my own companies, but that's what I was doing, and I look back at what my dad and my grandpa did, they're a CEO and CFO and COO and they ran massive small businesses day in, day out. I don't think I recognized it until really now what I'm doing, I'm doing a lot of the same stuff they did. I've been being in entrepreneur spaces CEO and founder for twelve years now. I've always just enjoyed being out in the front and leading. If you can't trust the guy leading the company, especially in a field that you're not familiar with, it's not gonna work. I've pitched to a lot of customers, I've pitched to a lot of venture capitalists, I've raised a lot of money, I talked to a lot of people, and one of my downfalls is I pack an enormous amount of very dense information in very short periods of time, and as eyes would glaze over I realized that's not very effective, so I just really learned over time just to pare back the information, to really use visuals, use analogies, emotional words that kind of tie it all together. A startup is a crazy, emotional roller coaster. Lots of ups and downs and lefts and rights. You're gonna be hearing, "no, that's not going to work" or "that doesn't make any sense" or "that's ridiculous". I'm a competitor at heart, so I love a competition. One of the hardest things I had to learn, how do I separate myself from the company? So if the company succeeds or fails, that doesn't mean I as a person am less or more. So being able to separate those two, and know I am grounded and have a foundation that is independent of the company. Now, it's impossible not to let my company's success or failure impact me, that's just not human, but at the end of the day, I've got a family, a set of friends, people who love me for who I am, not the success or failure of my company. That is one of the hardest lessons as an entrepreneur you've got to learn, is to separate your emotions from the ride of the company. And when you ask yourself, is this really gonna work? Am I really doing the right thing? Should I just shut the dang thing down now? If you get a number of really close friends who've been there, done that, and you all look at it, and you can take the emotions out of it, and you say, "this doesn't have the legs, it doesn't have the scale, you know what, we gotta shut this down, we're just wasting money, we're wasting time and money and resources that it's simply not gonna scale". So, it's not an easy decision, but entrepreneurs also have this incredible drive and tenacity to sometimes push through that and prove them wrong, and then that's the razor's edge that we live on.