The irrational fear of missing out (FOMO) #startups

I know an entrepreneur who attends every event that happens in Bangalore. Provided its free. He also organizes many events. I used to wonder where he has the time to run his company or do his job. I have yet to ask him why he attends all these events.

I could hazard a guess. It could be the free food, or the chance to meet other people that might help his company or a chance to make serendipity happen.

Then I overheard a conversation he was having with his mind. Turns out he suffers from “Fear of Missing Out” syndrome, or FOMO.

To be fair, those “rare connections” do happen. That’s the whole point of serendipity. And also the point of never giving up. You just keep plugging away at it until you get to the promised land.

I am that person.

I realize that I have the irrational fear of missing out.

The trouble is , every time I meet an entrepreneur, I learn. I learn a small little thing that I did not know before. It always happens. Without fail.

I have learnt one trick about how to get more views per post with a single character added to my posts. I have learnt the perfect Subject line you can write to get a better open rate in your email newsletter.

So the question is always one of the value of the time spent. I fear that I might miss out on learning something, but at the same time I fear my time is worth a lot more than the lesson learnt.

It is the fear of missing out and it is an irrational fear, but I am curious as to how you overcome that fear. Thoughts welcome.

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4 thoughts on “The irrational fear of missing out (FOMO) #startups”

  1. Lessons learn are useless if they are not tested or implemented, as a young entrepreneurs learns more than he can execute, it is always good to have more weight-age to execution. Without that one can not move ahead and actually be missing out the lessons which one can learn on later stages and can give high payouts.

  2. I tried in vain to find an answer someone wrote on Quora.com that spoke to this. I wanted to quote from it. Paraphrasing, it said something about paying attention to the ratio between the amount of time and effort on various activities and the ROI you get from it. A majority of your time should be spent on things with a high output ratio. When I moved to Bangalore to put on my FailCon event, I too attended every event I heard about (paid or free) and networked like crazy. It paid of wonderfully. But lately, there has been diminishing returns from attending events and networking. It’s great to attend events if you enjoy it. Nothing wrong at all with being a “people person”. But at some point, that ratio of “people I’m glad I met” to “events I go to” hit a peak. When that happens, it’s time to re-evaluate.

  3. I have a solution for this – connect with people who have high #FOMO and spend a weekend in a pub / coffee shop learning what you have missed out 😉 It is definitely not possible to attend all these events. And even if it is possible, the ROI is not great.

    BTW, Mukund – will love to know these tricks:

    “I have learnt one trick about how to get more views per post with a single character added to my posts. I have learnt the perfect Subject line you can write to get a better open rate in your email newsletter.”

  4. Mukund, my experience is that, like the best martial arts, you can use the power of the opponent (FOMO) in your favor. First, visualize the most important things you need to happen to advance your own interests. E.g., it could be (1) find more customers (2) find a strategic hire/advisor (3) find a brilliant developer, and (4) learn about a better solution to an existing operational problem. Then, relentlessly go to events until you have met someone to help you solve all of them. If, after 10 events, you’ve solved not even one – then reduce your forays! If, after a few events, you’ve solved all the pressing problems, then visualize the next set of problems, and start over! BTW, I’ve started doing this with the events I go to, and it seems to be working. I’ve even started doing it for all social interactions I have – e.g. the other day I met someone who was walking his dog, and we talked about some pressing problems they were working on at his work, and at the end of it, I thought, here’s a potential customer for us.

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