Activating my Personal and Professional Resilience

““Hi, I’m John, and I’m a recovering agency executive….”

I’ve always found it amusing: we spend so much of our professional lives in quick moments with new people where we need to adroitly define who we are and what we do.

In the course of saying that dozens (hundreds?) of times recently, I started to think about the why of my career and where/what I should really be doing — especially when I get the chance to share my story about my re-entry into the world I believe I was meant for: building and scaling a startup.

I ran through some of the narrative arc of my career and pre-career:

  • It all started when I was a kid, either running my paper-route, selling greeting cards or tie-dyes, or sneaking into my basement with my big brother to code computer games.
  • I progressed to data-entry in college, and ended up building hospital database systems which I licensed and sold off to my biggest customer.
  • Then, my last semester of law school — I had cancer.
  • I beat it, graduated, and started my first company with some of the best people I’ve ever worked with, and whom I’m honored to still call close friends.
  • We survived the .com bubble with a few pivots and sold in six years.
  • That launched my agency career where I had the privilege to build global technology and digital transformation teams and worked with iconic brands

I tried to find the common thread in these experiences. There were some accomplishments and lots of setbacks.

The term I kept coming back to was “Entrepreneurial Resilience.”

Oftentimes if you see an article with that in the headline, the remainder of the article is often cookie-cutter. It’ll be someone talking about hustle, about scraping for their first sale, the big customer win, etc. Those are the common entrepreneurial stories in which we deify the process of becoming an entrepreneur. While it’s certainly a process to be valued, it’s a lot messier and less fun than journalism wants to paint it.

It really is a journey of resilience and self-awareness.

But it’s also not a journey you do alone.

When I looked at the common thread in my experiences, I came to three realizations:

  1. I love building teams with awesome people, leveraging their strengths, and delivering results together.
  2. I love taking ideas and turning them into scalable products and solutions.
  3. I love helping people achieve better personal and career results using a combination of the above two.

With entrepreneurship, we focus a lot on (2) — scaling your ideas. Regrettably, though, we tend to focus a lot less on (1) — building the right team and assuring that the members of that team have their own paths set up even if you sell/exit.

I knew I wanted to get back to the startup/scale world, and I was intrigued around the topics of team-building, personal development, and resilience.

It seems like there’s a real pain point there, and most of what tries to fill it is generic “You must have purpose!” articles and videos.

Back at my first startup, I had worked with a client on developing performance management products for Microsoft’s executives and leadership teams. She is amazing, and we reconnected around some of the realizations I was having. And, she’s been leading work in the space for years.

We started talking more and more about resilience. If you’re a tried-and-true business leader and hear that term, you might assume it’s fluffy. You can’t track it, put it on a balance sheet, and there’s probably no tie to revenue growth directly from it. So, who cares?

The more we researched and worked with teams, we saw that resilience was essentially the defining factor between a high-performing, high-revenue team vs. a collection of people that just work together.

It’s probably important right now to define out resilience as best we can. For us, it is the ability to:

  • Engage with business challenges and opportunities quickly and effectively
  • Sustain business performance longer
  • Rebound more quickly from adversity
  • Learn and grow from the experience

Here’s maybe the easiest way to conceptualize all this: life is full of fleeting opportunities.

You’ll miss a lot of them.

What happens when you miss?

If you’re resilient, you’ll figure out how to present better for the next one and go get it.

If you’re not, you might give up, take a new path, bail out, etc.

In the long run, resilient people are remembered. Non-resilient ones are not.

And, It’s crucial to business. Data shows that resilient teams and people:

  • Deliver higher sales
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Are more productive
  • And, they’re more engaged and stick around longer

Anna (the old client on the Microsoft project) and I began to build out products to help develop resilient teams and people, as well as resources and tools to activate and sustain resilience.

Over time, it has become a new company: RallyBright.

If you’d like, you can get your own resilience score right here. I got an 83. Apparently I need to work more on “Action.” (I think I knew that but had been avoiding it until this test.)

Take the test and feel free to shoot me any feedback. I’d love to hear it.

If you’d like to build a high-performing resilient team and workforce, drop me a line or sign up at Rallybright. I promise to personally keep you in the loop.

With gratitude,