I Assumed This Memoir Was Just Another CEO’s Personal Brand Reinvention. I Was Very Wrong.

You Might Learn About Entrepreneurship Reading Andy Dunn’s Burn Rate But You’ll Learn Much More About Being Human

The realization of how mistaken I’d been hit somewhere around page 24 when the author details slipping into a psychotic state where he believed he was the returning Messiah. You see, my purchase of Andy Dunn’s Burn Rate was primarily to be supportive (I like him), and this past spring, it went from its Amazon package to a ‘Later’ pile in my office. Last weekend, the yellow-covered memoir moved from that stack to my hand. And then I proceeded to binge-read Andy’s memoir.

Burn Rate punched way above its weight, but before I celebrate it, I want to be honest about what caused my initial hesitancy: Skepticism around whether the author was the right avatar to become celebrated for talking openly about mental illness. Andy and I are friendly and have that shared “lots of mutuals” Venn diagram which makes people feel connected. In short, I knew the public-facing version of Andy but actually not much of the human behind. And so my not-overly-generous assumption was this book was going to be more like a press release than a personal journey.

Wow, I sound like a cynical asshole for sure, but societal issues are frequently represented and explained not by the individuals who are most qualified to speak, but instead the people who have the means, access and ‘camera ready’ soundbites. And in doing so they distort the discussion, push aside others, and are ultimately extractive before moving on. The best version of these folks actually do want to help (and yes, I assumed Andy was in this group), but they’re still misunderstanding the impact of grabbing the mic versus using their status to elevate others.

However as the title of this post suggests, I was wrong. Burn Rate is an honest, vulnerable account of a life. A journey that Andy is still on, but at a point where he’s ready to talk about it. For himself. For those who experienced him along the way, knowing or not knowing the full story. And for those who don’t know Andy but might be on a similar ride (we all are to different extremes). And I am very very glad it got out of the ‘Later’ purgatory. I’d urge everyone to read it for themselves.

Before I hit publish on this, there were two things that especially stood out for me:

A) Family is everything. The family Andy was born into, the one he extended into via marriage, the one he’s creating with his amazing wife and child.

B) The parts of us that we know aren’t our best selves but we also fetishize their ability to drive us to success, and worry that without them we’ll somehow be less. Andy has lived this. I’ve lived this.

Thank you Andy for Burn Rate. I learned about you but I also learned about myself.