If you saw the movies Up in the Air and The American, did you notice how George Clooney played essentially the same character in each? A handsome schlub reconciled to a soul-killing job, whose instinct to save himself kicks in too late, when he's over the hill.
The American was 10x the better movie, and not just for avoiding anything like the bullshit let's-reconcile-with-my-long-lost-family-and-dance-poorly-at-a-wedding-I-didn't-even-bring-a-gift-to scene in the other movie.
Anyway, I stray from today's topic: the emotional sustenance that comes from knowing who you work for.
Clooney's character in The American is an assassin. He's hired to build a custom rifle for another assassin, played by Thekla Reuten, who turns the very weapon on him, though she ends up being shot by their mutual boss, who is out to kill them both. "Who do you work for?" Clooney asks her as she lays dying with a gunshot wound to the head. "I work for the same person you do," she says.
Now that has got to be stressful, to learn that your customer is your mortal enemy and your co-worker, and that your boss has all the loyalty of a public company CEO.
But one thing that impels many entrepreneurs to do what they do, I think, is an instinct to pursue the self-respect and emotional health that comes from knowing the people for whom you are toiling.
We leap quickly to the phrase "working for yourself," but isn't it a bit more complicated than that?
Artists and assassins work for themselves. Startup entrepreneurs work for KNOWN customers plus KNOWN co-founders plus KNOWN investors plus KNOWN employees and perhaps only incidentally for themselves.