It Has Never Felt More Lonely To Be

August 5, 2021

A call for more support systems.

Yesterday I found a bird nest with a single pearl colored egg above my power box. I paused, and pictured a mama bird foraging our hillside to gather a bundle of twigs to create a support structure for her baby bird to develop and grow. It made me smile, and think of Invitation, one my favorite Mary Oliver poems.

Later on, I read a research report by January Ventures, and this chart stopped me in my tracks.

“More money than ever is flowing into startups, yet our data revealed that it has never felt more lonely to be a founder, especially for founders who don't fit the traditional mold, such as Black founders and older founders.”

Loneliness is real — the majority of founders do not feel supported, and I’d argue the same is true for the majority of working professionals.

Simply stated, it has never felt more lonely to be.

Support structures are critical. An egg needs a support structure to enable it to hatch and become a bird. As humans, we need to feel supported by our community in order to achieve our personal and professional ambitions.

Loneliness isn’t just a sad feeling, it results in greater disparity. Women-founded teams received nearly 30% less funding in 2020 than they did in 2019. (Crunchbase) Why are we regressing? My hunch? Because it has never felt more lonely to be a female founder.

So, what do we do?

Keep investing in founders and people outside of the Bay Area, who are women, who are Black, who are over 50, but also create support structures.

What types of support structures?

To find the answers to that, I have a creative suggestion inspired by Candy Chang.

Candy Change, Before I Die. Savannah, Georgia. Photo by Trevor Coe.

1. Put up a poster board in your common area, or an anonymous Google doc with rows that says:

“It has never felt more lonely to be __________.”

2. Observe what your team writes.

3. Share the results with your team publicly.

4. Identify the themes that emerge.

5. Form small discussion groups around the most prevalent themes.

I guarantee you supportive ideas will emerge.

At The Grand, we recognize it’s never felt more lonely to be making a career change, or becoming a first-time parent or new manager. Check out the topics of our upcoming events here, or let us know how we can be your support system.