It was on Thursday, 24th of July, 2008.
With less than $50 in my pocket, I packed my clothes and books and announced to my parents that I was getting out of their homes, to start a business and build a company.
I was only 21 years and six months, the youngest child in a family of 10 children.
A few days before I left home, I had announced to the people around me that I was never going to finish my schooling or have a university degree.
In my country, that’s like being a terrorist, so I became the black sheep of my family.
7 years after I left home, I was still as poor as the day I left.
I had been to many cities in my country.
I had tried many things and failed in everything.
I had no money and nobody in the whole world believed I would succeed.
But then, I had my luck and built my first successful company in the year 2016, eight long years after suffering in the business world.
Now if I look back at the decision I made 13 years ago, to build a business regardless of what it might cost me, I wonder where I got the courage to do it from
Today, many people are asking, “Why are most successful entrepreneurs men?”
Well, I think that is a wrong question.
The right question should be; why is anyone an entrepreneur?
Why would any reasonable human being decide to be an entrepreneur?
I mean, if we understand what it takes to build a company, then we should know that something is wrong with whoever thinks he can do it.
Forget all the flashy cars and planes.
Forget the billions of dollars and the god-like fame you see with many entrepreneurs.
If we try to see a little deeper than those toys, entrepreneurship is hellfire and nobody should be there.
In his 2010 article on the Harvard Business Review, Jeff Stibel calls entrepreneurship a disease https://hbr.org/2010/09/entrepreneurship-as-disease
He writes; “Entrepreneurship is a Disease and anyone who catches that disease must be ready to suffer”
Again, why are most successful entrepreneurs men?
The answer to that question is, most entrepreneurs are men because when it comes to how to live a meaningful life, women are more reasonable beings than us men.
And before you write a negative comment that I may never read, what I just said is not my opinion.
It’s what science says.
In a 2015 research paper by Wharton management professor Ethan Mollick and Venkat Kuppuswamy from the University of North Carolina, https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-are-there-more-male-entrepreneurs-than-female-ones/
Ethan Mollick concludes that men are more likely to start a business or become an entrepreneur because of overconfidence.
Mollick said overconfidence is arguably the largest psychological predictor of someone’s decision to pursue a career in entrepreneurship.
If I look back at my life today and think about what I went through the first eight years of my life as an entrepreneur, the question I ask myself is; “Why would you do that?”
I had no money, yet I believed I could do it.
I was rejected, even disowned by my family members, yet, I believed I could do it.
My mother cried many nights because she was afraid something bad could happen to me, yet, I never cared about my life.
I wanted to build a company or die trying.
I mean, why would anyone do that?
It’s called overconfidence and if you think overconfidence is a good thing, let’s use a simple example we can all understand; automobile crashes.
According to World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/road-traffic-injuries , about 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
Well, blame men, speed, and overconfidence.
According to this study, published by Independent.co.uk, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/speeding-men-more-likely-women-car-insurance-a9583691.html , after analysis of more than five billion miles of driving data, the study found that men are almost twice as likely as women to break the speed limit while driving.
Why do men run 120 kilometers per hour when they ought to run 60?
It’s called overconfidence.
And that’s why more men die in an auto crash than women.
According to the World Health Organization, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/speeding-men-more-likely-women-car-insurance-a9583691.html about 73% of all road traffic deaths occur among males
No wonder overconfidence is the leading cause of death; https://www.survivalkit.com/blog/why-over-confidence-is-one-of-the-leading-causes-of-death/
Let’s talk about our health
According to this study https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/01news/newstudy.htm by National Center for Health Statistics, women were 33 percent more likely than men to visit a doctor.
Now let’s go back to entrepreneurship.
The reason why more men become successful entrepreneurs is the same reason men are more likely to ignore doctors and it’s the same reason why men are almost twice as likely to break the speed limit which is the same reason why millions of men kill themselves every year.
It’s called overconfidence and nobody should envy people who have it.
It’s like robbing a big bank.
If you succeed, you may be rich but if you’re caught you’ll spend several years in prison.
Even though more men become successful entrepreneurs than women, more men have also crashed their lives trying to build businesses too.
Now that we’ve talked about overconfidence as being the reason why more men become a successful entrepreneurs and why that’s not necessarily a thing to admire, let’s talk about another ugly thing;
Power, Competition, and love of material things.
I remember when I was a child, everything I dreamed about was about power, wealth, and conquering other men which is most likely one of the reasons why I chose never to be an employee.
To me, it’s easier to conquer the world and win the invisible competition against other men by owning a company that makes you a millionaire, even if you sacrifice your life to get it.
Science is very clear about this.
For example, this study was published by the University of Amsterdam; According to this study https://ase.uva.nl/content/news/2019/11/men-are-more-competitive-than-women-in-the-workplace.html?cb
This Oxford Biography article https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199941728/obo-9780199941728-0042.xml explains how from the point of view of evolution, males species have always lived in competition with another male.
Our forefathers fought other males to get females.
They fought with other males to either conquer them or keep them from being conquered.
Even in nature, male species live for power, competition, and dominance.
It’s the reason why male peacock looks like this; https://previews.123rf.com/images/manganganath/manganganath1506/manganganath150600374/41857717-a-beautiful-male-peacock-with-expanded-feathers.jpg while female peacock looks like this; https://pixfeeds.com/images/photography/wild/1280-615093676-female-peacock.jpg
it’s the reason why a lion looks like this; https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/310000/velka/lion-15744380814Sm.jpg while lioness looks like this; https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/F767/production/_103953336_de27.jpg
Ego is the reason men want to make billions, even if they’ll have to sacrifice their health, relationship, and peace of mind for it.
It’s purely irrational and if you don’t believe that, I’ll give you two examples;
This 2014 study of 40,000 adults by Kelley Blue https://santanderconsumerusa.com/blog/car-buying-women-driven-different-reasons-men reveal the following;
Women are more likely to see cars simply as a way of getting from one place to another, while men tend to view them as tied to their image and accomplishments.
Women are likely to buy cars based on their utility while men want something that announces their power and glory. That’s why 80% of Royce Rolls is owned by men
The reason why we wish to conquer the world isn’t because we’re smarter.
It’s because we’re not reasonable when it comes to how to live a good life.
For example, in this Fast Company article https://www.fastcompany.com/90671503/productivity-metrics-arent-useful-any-longer-heres-a-better-way-to-measure-whats-getting-done Wendy Wallbridge, author of Spiraling Upward argues that women define success differently than men
While men are productivity-centric because they want to prove that they can win other men, women want to lead lives that are fulfilled, get fulfillment from relationships, family, and the community.
Which group would you rather belong to; people who live for vain things like power, cars, and billions or those who live for others?
This 80-year long study on happiness https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/ gives us the answer.
Even though humans would not be happy if they’re hungry or homeless after we have the income to take care of our basic needs, spending time with important people in our lives beats the goal of having the fastest car.
The desire for accomplishment, for power, and things is the reason why more men are willing to build a company than women.
It’s the vain competitive spirit.
It’s the desire to be powerful, even if everything else is sacrificed for that glory.
It’s the love of things.
For example, in this study, published in the Chicago Journals by The University of Chicago https://sociology.stanford.edu/sites/g/files/sbiybj9501/f/publications/gender_and_the_career_choice_process-_the_role_of_biased_self-assessments.pdf
Of the bachelor’s degrees earned in 1990, only 31.2% of physical science degrees and 13.8% of engineering degrees were awarded to women.
According to National Science Foundation, https://www.nsf.gov/ in the United States workforce in 1993, only 8% of all engineers and 9% of all physicists were female.
Contrast that with the personal care workers which have 88% female and 12% male; https://ilostat.ilo.org/these-occupations-are-dominated-by-women/
In the year 1969, the 30-year-old Ted Turner wanted to buy a dying television station.
He had inherited a billboard business from his father, which was doing well.
But he was bored, and the television seemed exciting.
Because Ted didn’t know anything about the television business, everyone around him advised him not to do it but he was ready to lose everything he had and start again from nothing.
He bought WJRJ, Channel 17, in Atlanta, and through fire and water, began one of the great broadcasting empires of the twentieth century.
Ted Turner and other wannabe entrepreneurs are drunk with overconfidence and even though some of them become very successful, millions ruined their lives in the process and that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing to want to build a company.
It only means that it’s an unbelievably difficult endeavor that anyone who wants an easy life may not want to try.
While some people think that more men become successful entrepreneurs because women are rigged out of the game, the truth is that building and running a company is so difficult that no reasonable human should do it.
But thankfully we have some unreasonable beings who are willing to sacrifice their very lives to do it and those people just happen to be more among men.
Thanks for reading.
My name is Steve Courage