“This year is MY year!” Who doesn’t believe that the night of New Year’s Eve? I did last year, and I had no idea what it would mean a couple of months into 2016.
I was Managing Partner for an up-and-coming creative agency (3elevenMEDIA) that had pivoted to developing apps (Swamp.Digital). We landed a huge client, I had recently “jumped off” my full time employment and money was coming in. I even secured a meeting with multimillionaire sales master Grant Cardone using a live online webcasting tool named “Blab” (no longer existent) on a Pitch Night he held from his home to become involved with his organization. It couldn’t possibly be more exciting than this.
Fast forward a few weeks, it would have been wise to have devised some sort of sales strategy, maybe hire a sales rep for a small base pay and incentivize him/her with commissions and who knows, maybe some equity in the near future. We didn’t. We were 3 months into the year, I had pretty much stopped taking most of my salary, I was “Ubering” folks around town half of the week’s nights and every weekend to make ends meet. Did I mention I have a wife and son to feed at home? Those were rough times.
Soon after that, we realized that the opportunities laying ahead weren’t exactly in line with the runway our company had left. It no longer made sense for us to continue pursuing the business. So we put our heads down and head back into the workforce we had “escaped”. Not to mention that due to our untimely demise, the millionaire meeting never came to fruition. What happened???
June 2016… After 20+ submitted applications and 6 interviews, in rolled 6 job offers. I took the one that pulled at my heartstring. A business accelerator, incubator & coworking space, StartHub. I would take a pay-cut from other opportunities but would be involved in a roll to help startups in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that I hadn’t even realized existed for all the years we ran our own. I was eager to get involved.
Here’s the lesson learned. Failure in our own business literally opened up this door for me. It was amazing to hear from someone across the negotiating table that due to all the ventures I had attempted, I was a more fit candidate for their company. Oren Klein, Head of Operations at the time said to me, “Listen… your failures just mean that you’re that much closer than the next guy in getting to where you want to go.” Music to my ears… That statement is engraved on my mind forever.
Failure is quite simply, proof that you are someone that does not GIVE UP, that when you fall you GET UP and wise up for what’s next.
So unto my second point. Why is community so valuable? These last couple of months, leading a coworking space, meeting unbelievably selfless industry leaders and attending incredibly organized (PACKED to the brim) events designed to help the next generation of entrepreneurs, has taught me a lot about people, relationships and of course, business. Just a few days into the position I became extremely aware of what I had done wrong in the past. We missed so many new opportunities by “cocooning” ourselves in our office only to come out for important appointments or client referrals. That’s how runways shrink.
I found out that people are really out to help each other succeed and to collaborate in any way possible to encourage growth for everyone. Just by learning as much as I could from people and taking a genuine interest in finding ways for me to help them, I found what would have been a fountain of endless leads for our ex-agency. It was at that moment I vowed to ensure that no business makes that same mistake. It’s unbelievable, in such a good way, how perfect strangers will take time out of their day to receive you with open arms and exchange ideas to help one another. It’s become my mission to make sure that startups don’t go through what I did. I put forth my maximum effort in finding them a lead, a potential client or a key meeting that could take their business to new heights as a way to pay this vibrant community forward. In doing so, there is no greater satisfaction than knowing that we are all creating the future of entrepreneurship in our city, one handshake at a time.
In summary, let me leave you with this. Learn from your failures (there’s always a lesson), Meet people, be interested in their goals & dreams, collaborate when possible (it’s always possible) and pay it forward. No matter in what stage you find yourself in life or in business, you can ALWAYS give back in some way.