‘Despite All the Money, I’m Not Happy.’ Startup Lessons from Sohu CEO Charles Zhang; 张朝阳精神危机:我什么都有 但居然这么痛苦

‘Despite All the Money, I’m Not Happy.’ Startup Lessons from Sohu CEO Charles Zhang

Mar 12, 2013 at 14:00 PM by C. Custer, in OpinionStartups

47761464hd6d50b261387&690

Sohu founder and CEO Charles Zhang is, by the standards of most tech entrepreneurs, doing very well. His startup has long since blossomed into a full-blown tech giant, and success has brought him both prestige and heaps of money. Yet in a recent interview on Yang Lan One-on-OneZhang told the host that he is actually miserable:

I think there’s something wrong with me. I truly have everything, and yet I am so miserable. Happiness is totally unrelated to how much money you have.

Zhang has reportedly removed himself from the day-to-day operations of the company and has stayed out of the public limelight (for the most part) over the past year. In the Yang Lan interview, he revealed that this was because his anxiety was making it impossible for him to work. He also said that he had found his success was changing him:

Successful people often have this need to do things their own way. [After I became successful] I became more of a perfectionist; I wanted to control the outcome of everything, and even felt that I could live to the age of 150.

More details and quotes from the interview are here for those who can read Chinese, but instead of speculating about Zhang’s mental state, I just want to highlight a couple of the things we can learn from this interview. Many of us are entrepreneurs searching for that big breakthrough or investors working hard to turn money into more money, and Zhang’s reminder that money cannot buy happiness might be cliche, but it’s important to remember. Of course, that’s not to say that having lots of money isn’t nice (or at least I imagine it’s nice; if anyone wants to send me a huge sum of money I’d be happy to give that lifestyle a try and review it here). But if money is your endgame, it’s possible you’ll end up like Zhang, standing at the top of a pyramid and wondering why bothered to climb it in the first place. The other thing Zhang’s interview reminds is that success can and does change people. Maybe Zhang’s issues are deeper than that and maybe they aren’t — I’m not qualified to speculate on anyone’s mental state one way or the other. But it’s important to keep an eye on your own psyche as you move through the entrepreneurship process and make sure that you’re OK with any changes that are happening. Becoming more of a perfectionist might be a good thing to some people, but others may want to avoid becoming a domineering control freak (and let’s be honest, there are plenty of startup founders who fit that description even before they’re successful). We wish Zhang the best, as we do to all entrepreneurs at every stage of the game from bootstrappers to billionaires. At the same time, though, I wish that everyone in the startup scene would spend a little more time thinking about their own definitions of happiness and the effects being an entrepreneur can have on their psyche. We spend so much time talking about what technology is innovative, and yet many of us are chasing the exact same goal: make a globally relevant product and get rich. Perhaps sometimes we should approach our own thinking patterns with the same spirit of disruption and innovation we bring to hackathons and tech conferences.

张朝阳精神危机:我什么都有 但居然这么痛苦

2013年03月05日 01:59  新浪科技 爱文

“我觉得我出问题了,我是真的什么都有,但是我居然这么痛苦。幸福跟钱的多少真的是没关系。”经过一年多的“闭关”,搜狐董事局主席张朝阳在接受《杨澜访谈录》专访时首次披露内心的精神危机。

2012年中国互联网行业群雄逐鹿、硝烟四起,然而正在行业争夺的激烈时刻,“互联网老兵”张朝阳却远离企业管理和公众视线长达一年之久。2013年1月,张朝阳重新在公众视野中露面,他在一条微博中说:“闭关一年多,重新进入地球,发现三件事,1.人人都在用微信。2.人人都在说好声音以及梁博等对我来说陌生的名字。3.好像是开了十八大,民心从骂街和用脚投票变成了建设性和拭目以待,改革开放好像又时髦了。”

媒体追捧让我膨胀

张朝阳用“悲催”来形容他的2012年,他焦虑、抑郁,精神上常常处于一种外人无法理解的恐惧之中。

“脑子里总是有某些虚妄的想法赶不走,这些想法非常恐怖。”张朝阳说,以前用脑过度,导致脑子出现一些死循环,对与人交往产生了某种恐惧。这些恐惧没有办法描述,难以言说。

在他看来,早年成功之后不断被媒体、周围人追捧,导致了对自我的成功管理出现问题。“成功者往往什么东西都必须按照自己的意图走,我变得更加完美主义者,想要控制事情的结果,甚至认为我可以活到150岁。”

“大约2年前开始,我觉得我出问题了,怎么可以这样想,而且自己没办法克服。这导致我工作时总是出于忐忑不安的状态,因此我跟团队说我不能工作了,必须去解决我的问题。”张朝阳透露,他曾尝试去美国找心理医生、大量阅读心理精神类书籍,同时尝试在东方哲学中寻找自己焦虑的原因。

张朝阳曾在接受媒体采访时用“有钱有有名的第一人”来形容自己。他认为,自己有钱而且是阳光财富,又受过良好的教育,处于新兴产业,是将互联网带进中国的第一人,受到大量的媒体吹捧,滋养了虚荣和自我的膨胀。“表面上我还很谦和,但实际上我非常地傲慢。”

张朝阳年近半百却一直没有结婚生子,这让他感到更加孤独。他说,“我并不抵触婚姻,也不是不喜欢小孩,只不过是因为名气越来越大,突然发现我不用结婚了。不过,我已经开始改变,不会再试图抵触传统的习俗。”

钱多少跟幸福没关系

谈到自己的事业,张朝阳用“备受煎熬”来形容这些年的经历。他回忆说,从1996年融资时就非常困难,四处奔走。1999年,新浪崛起,迅速超越搜狐,当时董事会不信任他,随时可能会换CEO。2000年,新浪成功上市,搜狐还遥遥无期,直到上市的最后关头还差点没上去。

“在与董事会复杂的斗争中,我学会了权术,从一个学生变成了对利益关系有清醒认识的人。我的生活充满了竞争、危机和压力。远非外人所见的风光和得意,其中的坚信和孤独只有一个人默默承受。”张朝阳说。

张朝阳用李彦宏举例,百度要融资时可以用搜狐的成功做为例子,因此李彦宏的投资人都允许他先不赚钱,把搜索做好后再盈利,而搜狐当时的投资人不懂互联网,对盈利特别看重,导致搜狐只能“哪有商业模式去哪”。

张朝阳总结说,闭关结束后有三个变化,接地气、谦卑、幸福观。“以前我曾认为别人接近我都是有目的的,很少理睬那些主动接近我的人。现在我彻底变了,生命中每一分钟都是很有意义的,那一时刻遇到那个人跟你说话,一定是有意义的,他也是我生命中的一部分。”

“以前我曾经认为,越有钱,越有名气,就越幸福。但是经过这两年的闭关,我认为钱多不是幸福的保证,钱多少跟幸福没关系。我这么有钱,却这么痛苦。越有钱、越成功如果没有管理好自己,往往更容易让你陷入精神的痛苦。”张朝阳最后说。

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: