“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Napoleon Hill
Two years ago I was “broken” and struggling mightily to regroup with the realization that I was looking at completely starting over. At the age of 37 I was jobless with a wife and three kids. I was completely reeling and grasping for answers. I learned who my real friends were and what I was made of.
I had just been squeezed out of the company that I co-founded with my brothers and an effort was made to stealthily embarrass us in the process. Two years has given me perspective on what happened, but I still have moments of heartache when I occasionally reflect upon what happened. However, I now know that my pain was not wasted. It acted as an education and developed my staying power, my faith and even my humility. I have had a lot of victories in my life, but it is the trials that have made me who I am today and who I hope to become.
We started that company from nothing and eventually brought in investors to fund our vision. The company was growing steadily each month and had already sold millions of dollars of product in its short time in business. We had impressive leaders within our organization in four countries. It is impossible to run everything perfectly in a start up, but there was no question we had created something special and rewarding.
June marks two years when I had my first interview after our squeeze out. It was with a good company and I was perfectly qualified for the position. I did not get the job. The company owner said to me, “Jeff, you are qualified for this position. You have a track record for this industry. But…you are broken. Whatever happened in your previous company has caused emotional damage that I cannot wait to heal.” Wow…that really was painful at the time.
A year ago I wrote that brave man who told me I was broken and thanked him. I was broken and it took a successful person, which I respected, to have the guts to give me an honest, yet brutal analysis of the person in front of him.
In the past two years I have rebuilt and hope that I am a better person than before. In the past two years I have gone about life with a new perspective. I no longer work 80-hour weeks and my sky miles are way down. I have insisted that my personal and business relationships are reciprocal or I do not continue that relationship. I exercise 5-6 days a week and have gained 15 pounds of muscle and reduced my body fat. My business partner and I have a steady book of business and edification exists in our conversations.
I don’t know the mental state of the gentlemen that took over our company. I don’t know the real state of affairs with the company they so coveted to brand as their own.
I do know that I have learned a lot from the situation and how truly successful people do business. I have met many incredible people in the last two years. I have also met many dreamers that want to achieve greatness. I have also seen many formerly thriving companies struggle to adapt to the new realities of the economy and technology. One thing is clear from what I have seen, to thrive today you need a movement driven by passion within your company. To have a real movement you must understand:
- Business is about people, and relationships are a major part of the necessary passion to ignite a movement.
- To create a movement that catches on, you must elevate people and empower them.
- Throwing a party to celebrate your own greatness does not build a lasting legacy; it just costs a ton of money.
- Money and power can influence people temporarily. However, passionate people (difference makers) do not want to be influenced, they want to be inspired.
- Business is more than just business. Business requires humans to succeed. Don’t forget how to be a human being. Lead by being human.
- If you are not willing to go into the field and live your product as the masses do, you will never understand what ignites a movement. Get out of the way and let the inspirational lead your movement. They are much closer to the product or service than you.
- You cannot force passion or movements.
- Movements are not about you. Movements are about the needs of the people who evangelize your product for free. Movements are about the wants of the people who live your product or service. Movements are about their wants and needs, not yours.
An unknown author said, “Determination, patience and courage are the only things needed to improve any situation.” I love my life. I love my family. I have experienced heartache in business, but who hasn’t. My situation is better today than it was as CEO of a multinational business just over two years ago. Live life. Enjoy it. Be human and if you are broken, fix yourself by finding your passion.