This month—one many observe as “Sober October”—I’ll achieve a milestone that once seemed impossible: nine years sober. While this is certainly a personal accomplishment that I’m proud of, it was surprisingly what unlocked my entrepreneurial success. That’s right: getting sober was the key to activating my potential as a serial founder.
Two years into my sobriety, I was finally able to leave my decade-long career in enterprise software sales to go all-in on my own company. This was the moment that my dream of being a full-time founder came true, and I credit my transition to quitting drinking. Now, years later, I’ve raised $10 million for my own companies, generated millions more in cash and stock and fees, and accomplished what others told me for years could never be done.
The benefits of sobriety are endless, but here are six that stand out, especially if you are looking to start your own company. As with anything good in life, these benefits must be earned over time. If you commit to making a big personal change and have the courage to stick with it, you just might achieve the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.
1: No hangovers
This one is my personal favorite. Why? Because I wake up feeling like a million bucks every day. I repeat: every, single, day. And so can you! Say goodbye to headaches, grogginess, and sour moods. Start your day in perfect form: stone cold sober. The benefit of never being hungover cannot be overstated and is worth its weight in gold.
2: Laser-focus on your career
Launching a company is hard. Statistically, the odds are against you when you launch a company, because nine out of ten startups fail. How can you be an outlier? How can you break the mold and persevere in the face of such terrible odds? The answer is simple: by giving yourself every advantage by putting your time, energy, and focus into your company. How badly do you want to succeed, and what habits are you willing to give up to prove it? The choice is yours.
3: Better equipped to manage stress
Running a company is stressful. As a founder, you end up dealing with some kind of rejection or disappointment every week. It’s easy to want to escape the emotional pain and suffering of being a founder. When you’re sober, you own your stress by dealing with it head on. The most capable founders don’t run away from their problems—they face the storm and navigate until they’re through it. Sobriety gives you a platform to manage your stress and anxiety instead of letting these emotions manage you.
4: Clear and coherent thinking
If you start your own company and ask yourself where your business is today, the answer will largely be the result of all the decisions you’ve ever made. Logical decision-making is a critical skill to building and growing your business, and poor decisions will invariably lead to negative outcomes.
Even if you’re just slightly hungover, you’re not operating at your optimal capacity. When you’re sober, you empower yourself to make important decisions with a clear mind. By making more clear-minded decisions on a regular basis, you give yourself an edge which can evolve into a tangible competitive advantage.
5: Increased productivity
I like to tell people that when I was drinking, I was operating at 95% of my ability. Now that I’m sober, I’m at 97%. Yes: that 2% difference was an absolute game-changer. Why? Because when I quit drinking, I was 2% more motivated, thoughtful, productive, and effective every single day, every single month, for years. Moreover, I’m not a different person: I still bring the same strengths and weaknesses to the table. Sobriety wasn’t the answer to all of my problems, but by allowing me to unlock that two additional percentage points of potential, I could move the needle in my professional life in a meaningful way. After two years of sobriety, I am convinced this incremental improvement in my ability to execute is what gave me an edge and led to my breakthrough as a founder.
6: Enhanced mood
Your energy as a founder matters. When you show up to calls or meetings tired, frustrated, or lacking enthusiasm, people know it. Having neutral or low energy sends a negative signal to your team, clients, partners, and investors. We often say that positive energy is infectious for a reason: because it’s true. When you’re sober, you’ll show up with stronger energy to help you draw people in like a magnet.
Nine years after quitting drinking, I know without any hesitation that sobriety is both a superpower and competitive advantage. It was the answer that helped me achieve my dreams as a founder, and it can be yours, too.
So instead of taking a break for October, I challenge you to consider taking a break for good. They say the grass is greener on the other side, and in this case, it’s not just greener, but the skies are clearer, too. Join me.