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How To Power Through When Adversity Hits

Welcome to BW Missions Newsletter 10

I will always remember the night I was cut from my high school freshman basketball team. More than 80 players competed for 15  spots. 

I made it all the way through to the final cut … and was one of the last five players who was not selected.

Starting out at a brand new school with an incredibly talented team (that went undefeated), I was surprised I even made it that far.

Looking back, what made me stand out was probably throwing my body around the floor as a defensive force – catching the coaches attention (this was before I developed a jump shot). Showing I was 100% in and fully committed kept me in the potential roster all the way through tryouts. Even worse, I had already quit the freshman football team – so basketball kind of felt like “do or die” just to fit into a school with so many students.

Side Note: Having a strong sense of identity and belonging never came easy for me until after college. I’d always felt stuck on the outside looking in (until I found more entrepreneurial minds). 

The next question I had to answer came front and center: “Should I continue training for Junior Varsity?” 

Many empty tissue boxes, beaten up pillows, and exhausting days later, I went up to my room, swiveled around in my room desk chair, and made a decision: The team’s decision about my abilities would never define my self-worth OR identity.

I kept going, gave it another shot to make the JV team and Fast Forward 365 days later: I was the only person who made JV who hadn’t make the freshman team.

As I compare this journey to the trajectory of my professional life, I see clear parallels running side by side. Learning how to persevere when the unknown lays ahead has kept me going in critical times of my life:

  • Wandering aimlessly around my college town for 2 extra years after graduation as I tried to figure it all out with little funds in the process. You’d be surprised how good pasta started tasting on a daily basis – especially when Marshall Mosher made it.
  • Throwing myself into the flames working with Allen Gannett for a year. There were so many times when I questioned “Am I cut out for this? Can I excel?” Most days felt like “Just survive another day”.
  • Building a global community of students with the brightest minds from the top universities around the world. I questioned how well I fit in, and often felt a sense of imposter syndrome – only if they knew I willed my way into school after countless rejection letters.

In these moments, it’s our choice —and no one else’s — whether to fall down and not get back up, act as if we belong or not, take the easy road by looking the other way…or whether we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and refuse to let our negative experiences define who we truly become.


Joel “Thor” Need: Newsletter 10 Featured Mission

Speaking of turning scars into positives, Joel “Thor” Neeb has a laundry list of experiences and accolades that would barely fit into this newsletter. As a Former Fighter Pilot [F-15 Mission Commander] and Instructor in the Air Force, stage IV cancer survivor, CEO of Afterburner, and triathlete, he considers his mission of reframing adversity and pain as tools for growth to be his Survivor’s Obligation, which is also the name of his recently-released book (P.S. it’s already out of stock on Amazon, but you can still order). 

Joel is creating a platform for those who are fighting or have overcome long odds to share their stories of post-traumatic growth. This can mean overcoming challenges that forced you to look within, but ultimately catalyzed growth.

We are capturing those experiences for Thor and sharing them as a means to facilitate growth for as many people as possible. If you have ever found yourself struggling to find hope in a dire circumstance, be the hope for someone else by filling out the form here to be considered for selection.


Growth: Newsletter 10

WHAT I LEARNED FROM CONDUCTING AN AUTOPSY ON MY FIRST FAILED STARTUP

Have you ever committed to a deep reflection on your own life? What about your business? What about comparative and side by side look between two businesses. I spent hours doing a cathartic deep dive, 3 years of knowledge later, on all the things I really messed up with my first startup, and all the things I (believe) I got right with this startup.

These frameworks, skill sets, and systems are all transferable … to any brand. Thanks Ben Bradbury for giving me this idea. My hope is it helps you ideas to build your own brand and marketing efforts – the right way – from the ground up.

Here is my Autopsy on My First Startup compared to BW Missions. Read it in full on our website!


Opportunities: Newsletter 10

TAX SEASON: IT’S THE WORST, BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE

Especially not when you have a good accountant who simplifies everything. I’ve been working with Matt Lopez for the past year at Burdette Smith and Bish. He will sit with you, listen to your questions, not rush you, and then help you save a lot of money. We all like those people, especially when they have the human spirit. 

FACT CHECK: “LAWYERS TAKE ALL YOUR MONEY.” DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS JUST YET …

Meet Katelin Kennedy. You know when you get on the phone with someone and they provide clarity and confidence? That’s Katelin. She’s been instrumental in helping me put our legal house together and works mostly with the startup market. She’s genuinely nice, from the South, and lives in Raleigh, NC. If you’re not on LinkedIn, reach out to me and I’ll provide her email and introduce you.

A FUN BOARD GAME FOR STARTUP FOUNDERS?

Have you ever found yourself catching up with a friend, talking about IDEAS? Sitting at a bonfire with your friends discussing what problems you are solving? An old college friend recently launched Pitch Deck. It’s like Shark Tank meets Apples to Apples. Check out his Kickstarter video.

HOW DO YOU FIND —AND ENGAGE— YOUR PERFECT AUDIENCE ONLINE?

Morgan J Ingram, Sales Trainer at John Barrows Sales Training, says it so well. He ascended the ranks at Terminus, moved to a manager position training other AE’s and now a sales trainer (and great speaker). This is the first part of the sales process before the cold calling.

HOW DO YOU BUILD A PRODUCT AS A SERVICES COMPANY?

It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s really possible. Even if you don’t have a physical product, understanding how to build digital assets and products as we head into 2020 is paramount. This Forbes article explains it nicely.

HOW DO YOU EVALUATE EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE? USE SCORECARDS

The end of the quarter just happened. However, when it comes to evaluating employee performance and putting the right team on the bus, look no further than the Scorecard system Lawline uses. 

Michele Richman is the Vice President of Business Operations. She was kind enough to share this great blog she wrote and helped me implement into our company. It is a great resource for organizations in all fields and of all sizes.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

Ernest Hemingway

This quote feels like it describes my past 3 weeks. It’s just been a “slog,” and I haven’t had much time to breathe. I feel like I’m being hit from all directions. It also relates to pivotal moments that could define my life.

I find a similar resonance in how this concept relates to people like Thor who have chosen to combat discomfort as they take any and all challenges head-on in the face of adversity. How we handle our setbacks truly does define us.

The Pathfinder
Catherine Kushan

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