LeWeb13: Dina Kaplan, Blip Co-founder (Fear) [en]

Fear and the role it plays in your life. Dina asks for a show of hands, who has thought about it? steph-note: I’m astonished how many peopled didn’t raise their hands.

Two years ago Dina was at an intersection, two blocks from work, incapable of crossing the road.

Thanks to Adam Tinworth for the photo.

When they launched, she worked without stopping. Literally. High-power, high-media life. Public face of the company, daily press stuff, managing 6 departments, awards…

She looked fearless, but it was all BS. She wasn’t mindful of her fear, but fear was holding her back in every area of her life.

She was super stressed and taking way too much on, but afraid to ask for help. She’d taken on a role, emulating men (“What would Larry or Sergei do?”). She was held up as a model woman entrepreneur, but felt like an actress playing that role. Didn’t have the confidence to be herself. Imposter syndrome, part of her who worried that she didn’t deserve what she had.

She started having panic attacks. Lived in fear of passing out in the middle of NYC intersections. Started taking cabs everywhere.

Back to that day in November, she’s on that intersection, trying to make eye contact on the other side of the street so that if she did pass out, they would stop to scrape her body off the street.

Decided it was not working. Quit her job, took a one-way flight out.

Travelled, but was still being entrepreneurial. The girl with the endlessly cool vacation photos on Facebook.

Patrick, for years, had been telling Dina to meditate and face her fears — which she didn’t listen. Went on a hike together, tried meditating. Being rather than doing.

She went to a 10-day silent meditation retreat to study meditation. Hard and painful, no way escaping herself. Wanted to quit on day 1, on day 2, on day 3. On day 8, she understood what her driver was: she was obsessed with being like. Bullied in summer camp when she was little, vowed to herself that she would be like. Cost? Was never authentic even though she managed to surround herself with people and friends.

Didn’t ask for help because didn’t want to upset people or cause trouble.

How could she break the pattern? Patrick’s words came back to her: if she faced her physical fears and conquered them, would that help?

Start with a big one: scuba-diving. When she was young, somebody had died on her very first scuba-diving trip. Went diving with another family, the father never came back up.

Super afraid before going into water, but felt ok once inside. And after, felt different: she had done something for her. Ziplining. Bungee jumping. Decided to do it for herself, for a new life.

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Back in NY, she has changed. Tells a VC friend she thinks every entrepreneur should learn to meditate. He calls back to say it was a super meeting. She dared to be herself.

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Used to be afraid of confrontation, of asking favours, of being herself. Is OK with people not liking her.

But… no need to bungee jump to be free or spend a year in Asia.

Three things:

– mental agility, breaking your habits, those that hold you back
– fear: what if I face my fear?
– mindfulness, not just to connect to others, but connect to yourself

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