What started out bad, revealed so much good

Risk confusion business concept with a businessman on a high wire tight rope walking towards a tangled mess as a metaphor and symbol of overcoming adversity in strategy and finding solutions through skilled leadership facing difficult obstacles.A few months ago I received a very kind email from Mike McDerment’s Public Relation Manager. She wrote, “Mike McDerment passed your invitation forward to me since I help manage his speaking/media schedule. Your podcast sounds really interesting and think it could be a great fit for us.”

I was super excited. Mike is the Founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the #1 cloud accounting service for small businesses and the self-employed. I had been reading about his company, his team, and his great service for many years.

In fact, I read one of his “open letters” and as you might imagine, it caught my attention.

In his open letter, he wrote, “But that’s not the only struggle I’ve had—growing from founder to CEO has been a challenge. For years the role of CEO was incomprehensible to me, yet it was my role. Since then I’ve come to understand it’s about three things: setting the vision, building a world class team, and ensuring your bank account aligns with your ambition.”

It’s my personal goal to be THE place where you can hear directly from Founding CEOs like Mike. So, I was excited that he accepted my invitation to be a guest on the “From Founder To CEO” podcast because I knew he would deliver amazing insights for you. And, he did not disappoint, as you can hear the interview here. He specifically addressed the powerful open letter I reference above.

But, getting you this interview was not without its challenges.

About ten minutes before the interview, my Skype software forced me into an update that made me question if I would be ready for the interview.

With seconds to spare, I started to connect with Mike on Skype only to see and hear the maintenance crew outside my window with leaf blowers competing with my recording audio levels.

Our amazing maintenance crew moved far enough away just in time for Mike and I to connect on Skype. There was just one problem. The Skype connection was failing.

Mike was super kind and accepted my request to try the interview over Zoom. There was just one problem. The Zoom connection was failing.

When I offered to conduct the interview over the phone, I half expected Mike to now think I was some crazy person in Cincinnati Ohio who was wasting his valuable time.

On the contrary, he was understanding and very supportive.

There was just one more problem, though. I couldn’t find the “Skype to phone” button because the Skype update moved the button to another area unknown to me at the time.

When I finally found the button and connected with Mike on a quality connection, I thought for sure he would have declined the interview after all of these problems. Not Mike, he was excited to get started and gave a great interview. Gracious was the word that came to my mind.

Why am I sharing this story?

First, stuff happens. As a Founder & CEO, you know this. It happens everyday to you and your startup team. You adapt, overcome, and move forward. When you expect to have to work through problems, challenges, and issues, your heart and head will tend to be in the right place…understanding and supportive like Mike. If you think everything will be smooth and easy, you open yourself up to disappointment and stress.

Second, Mike McDerment has been at the “scale a startup” game for over ten years. He started in the basement of his parent’s house. He has seen the ups, downs, and sideways movements of his startup and didn’t let the snafus of our interview derail him. In fact, he demonstrated the core essence of one of my favorite quotes from American novelist James Lane Allen.

Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”

The next time you are in a difficult, challenging situation, what will your character reveal?

Have you ever had to overcome a startup challenge where you were not at your best? Let me know your story and maybe you might feel comfortable sharing it with our community? 🙂

Oh, and by the way, check out Mike’s insightful interview here.

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