Burn Rate

Burn Rate is a book about the intersection of mental illness and entrepreneurship. It tells the story of Andy Dunn starting a men’s fashion company, Bonobos, while fighting with bi-polar disorder. Here are some parts that I highlighted:

On mental health:
  • When we say someone “is bipolar” rather than “has bipolar disorder,” that’s like saying that someone “is cancer” rather than “has cancer.”
  • Perhaps depression is the absence of hope.
  • I became an expert at camouflage. Hide in workaholism, hide in alcoholism, show no vulnerability, do no serious self-inquiry, and have no hard conversations. In other words: get no help.
  • I came to perceive my job as, if not a mood stabilizer, certainly an antidepressant. By demanding so much of me, by insisting that I show up and keep the lights on at the company, the business gave me a purpose that transcended my malaise.
  • I wonder if I would have been able to pull this off were it not for those frenetic episodes of elevated mood that bipolar disorder made possible.
  • We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.

On relationships:

  • Ingredients that spell doom between partners are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
  • It occurred to me then that the best way to build influence with someone is to accept their influence to begin with.
  • I am who I say you are.

On business:

  • When you work at a private equity, your bosses buy and sell companies, mostly with other people’s money, and earn outsize returns by leveraging those investments with debt.
  • Information technology, software, and the developing internet made possible asymmetric returns that you couldn’t access in businesses where you had physical inventory and real estate.
  • I realized that the most self-confident leaders are not the ones who need to talk, but the ones who ask the best questions.

The book was a page turner, I couldn’t put it down after starting. The descriptions of his manic state were very engaging and I could imagine myself as a manic CEO. It’s a good read if you’d like to build empathy towards people with bi-polar disorder.

December 18, 2022

sarp centel

Sarp is a software developer. He writes about technology, books and software.
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