Gabriella (Draney) Zielke is the co-founder and CEO of the Tech Wildcatters. The Tech WildCatters is a company that invests their money, time, and resources into startups. As they work with many different entrepreneurs, Zielke wrote an article titled, “Do dysfunctional families raise better entrepreneurs?”
The basic premise for entrepreneurs, Zielke explains, is that they need to change up the status quo. So she posed the question: “What is the difference between someone who challenges the status quo in order to survive, from a very young age – and one who learned to challenge it for other reasons?”
Zielke explained that there two kinds of entrepreneurs; those who have gone hungry because they had to, and those who hadn’t.
Steve Blank was one that had to go hungry. He wrote an article explaining how he had been able to escape his dysfunctional family, which gave him this compulsive, relentless drive to succeed. For others like him, they poured their drive into sports or a career. However, for Blank, he chose to become an entrepreneur and start his own business.
Elon Musk chose to see what it was like to go hungry. During his college days, Musk chose to live off of a dollar a day for a month to test his resilience. When he started Zip2, his first company, he never even bought a house, or paid for an apartment. Instead, he and his brother slept in their office and showered at the YMCA.
Zielke herself grew up very poor and wanted to share her story to inspire others. She grew up hungry because they couldn’t afford to eat. After coming back from Mexico at age 15, she didn’t want her teachers knowing she was taking care of herself. While her highschool classmates could participate in any activity they wanted, Zielke’s focus was on working to pay the bills and get good grades.
Zielke never wanted to go hungry again, and put that “need to succeed” drive into her career. She posed the question: if she had been a regular teenager at her high school, would she be where she is today?