In the high-octane world of tech entrepreneurship, the stakes are always high, the competition fierce, and the pressure relentless. This reality is most vividly personified in the personas of tech moguls like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who seem to exist on a constant adrenaline-fueled high.
Their latest foray into cage fighting may be an effort to keep their adrenaline rushes going, because the only thing more powerful than the thrill of an adrenaline rush is the restlessness and agitation from an adrenaline crash. And as much as vision and visioning their respective companies into the future can provide that adrenaline rush, managing those companies, their stakeholders, the media and constant intense scrutiny is anything but exciting.
While their risk-taking and audacity have catapulted their respective companies — Tesla, SpaceX, Meta, and others — into the stratosphere, they may be missing a key ingredient in their personal and professional development: the hormone oxytocin.
What is oxytocin? It’s a hormone that promotes bonding, empathy, and trust. It’s what enables us to connect emotionally with others, and by extension, understand their needs, desires, and challenges. However, in the high-stakes game of tech entrepreneurship, it appears as though Musk and Zuckerberg have traded in this vital hormone for a constant influx of adrenaline — the hormone responsible for our fight-or-flight response, and the thrilling rush associated with risk and excitement.
While this adrenaline rush might drive their bold decisions and innovative visions, it can also lead to a restlessness, a kind of insatiable need for more excitement, more risks. And when the adrenaline crash inevitably arrives, the results can be unpleasant, leading to a constant chase for the next ‘high’.
Therein lies the concern. As much as their adrenaline-fueled behaviors have brought us mind-bending innovations, it’s also important to consider what they might be overlooking in their relentless pursuit of the next big thrill. The ever-increasing rates of stress, mental health issues, and feelings of disconnect among their employees and users suggest an unmet need for empathy and understanding — both traits that oxytocin helps to facilitate.