Surviving the Startup Life: The Toll of Merging Identity and Work

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Guided Workshop

A live online conversation with Jerry Colonna & Parker J. Palmer on the pressures that can crush the leaders of startup companies.

About This Workshop

Parker J. Palmer - Surviving the Startup Life: The Toll of Merging Identity and Work

A Conversation between Parker J. Palmer and Jerry Colonna at Naropa University in Boulder, CO

How do we protect ourselves from being consumed—body and soul—by the pursuit of our life dreams? We invite you to participate in a live event at Naropa University with Parker J. Palmer and Jerry Colonna. Join the conversation about finding a way to deal with the "deforming pressures" that threaten to crush the leaders of startup companies.

The recent tragic suicides of extraordinary entrepreneurs have sparked an emotional debate about the hardships created by launching a new enterprise. While the outcome may not always be physical, we sometimes pursue our dreams in a way that is tipped toward being death-dealing rather than life-giving. Parker and Jerry will take us beyond the specifics of recent tragedies and invite us to examine how we "conspire in our own diminishment."

Our goal with this event—and other "Safe Space" programs—is to help entrepreneurs and other professionals explore the emotional rollercoaster of pursuing their life's work openly and honestly, finding support and healing with and from each other.

Jerry Colonna, a successful former venture capitalist, experienced that rollercoaster firsthand as his work left him "overweight, sickly, disconnected from my body, my family, and back at the point where the subway tracks seem like the right answer." Since 2007, Jerry has been a life coach, helping top CEOs and other professionals understand that they do not have to "disappear into the fire" as they enter the fiery kiln of their startups.

Parker J. Palmer is a writer, speaker, and activist whose work has been recognized with eleven honorary doctorates and numerous national awards. He has suffered from depression three times as an adult, "not just lost in the dark, but feeling that I had become the dark." He is founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, whose goal is to help people "rejoin soul and role." His ninth and latest book is Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.

This "Safe Space" event is presented by the Center for Courage & Renewal, Naropa University, Startup Revolution, and Cojourneo.


Jerry Colonna

Jerry Colonna

Life Coach

In 2002 Jerry decided that the venture capital work that earned him a place on Forbes ASAP's list of the best VCs in the country was just not enough. Then in 2007, he became a certified professional coach.

Jerry describes himself as an old guy who was there at the beginning. Over his career he has been a tech reporter; a co-founder of one of the earliest ad-supporter web-based media businesses; co-founder of the first Internet-specific venture firm (CMG@Ventures); a co-founder (with Fred Wilson) of Flatiron Partners; a teacher; a writer; and now a Life/Executive Coach focused primarily on entrepreneurs. Jerry lives in Port Washington, NY, with his family.
Parker J. Palmer

Parker J. Palmer


Parker J. Palmer is an independent writer, speaker, and activist who focuses on education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. Founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal, he holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and eleven honorary doctorates. Author of nine books, his most recent is Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. Others include The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, and Let Your Life Speak. In 2010, Palmer received the William Rainey Harper Award whose previous recipients include Margaret Mead, Elie Wiesel, Marshall McLuhan, and Paolo Freire. In 2011, the Utne Reader named him one of 25 Visionaries on its annual list of “People Who are Changing the World.”


  • + 70 participants