In spite of, and maybe as a result of, the current uncertainty, I'm even more optimistic about 2017.
Maybe because I am the third of four children, and because my older siblings made a sport of pranking me, I have a pretty good BS meter. In college, I studied as a mechanical and aerospace engineer and I developed a love for solving problems, mining to the truth (removing the BS), and creating solutions for massive problems.
After college, I started to understand that the largest opportunities are often born from the darkest times. A little over 15 years ago, on September 15, 2001, I sat in our new, but completely empty offices at Headwaters MB. Just 15 days earlier, my first child and only daughter was born. Wow, what an amazing time and personal experience. And, just 4 days earlier, 9/11 happened... terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and an open field in Pennsylvania.
Now here I was, with the co-founders of Headwaters, Phil and Dave, sitting on temporary folding chairs, on the first day of our new business - we were launching a new investment bank, Headwaters MB. Were we crazy? If you recall that time, everything was upside down. No one knew if there would even be a financial market the following week. We were at war. We didn't know who to trust. Phil had just lost close personal friends and colleagues when the World Trade Center towers fell.
But that day, was an amazing day. We sat there and asked a simple question, are we really going to do this? Start something new, in these uncertain times? With all the fear? The answer was strong and passionate, "F**k yes! And F**k them!" Now, years later and many new business experiences for me, Headwaters is a thriving success. Our resolve and conviction still gives me chills when I think about it today.
For me, this past week feels a lot like September, 2001. There is a new source of fear which is being promoted by the new politics. So, why am I more optimistic about 2017 than ever? Because this is one of those once in a decade dark times that creates tremendous opportunities. Yes, I want you to make your voice heard about the events happening in Washington: be vocal, disagree, support your causes, and protect your friends and family. I also want you to find your opportunity. Choose to use this darkness to find your next opportunity, maybe finding your voice, maybe uniting with your community, or maybe building something new that combats the evil of fear.
For our team at Black Lab Sports, we are going full in! You see, we believe that resilient, mindful people, even in hard and uncertain times, will make a better world for all. And we are on a mission to identify, develop, grow, and support these unique people. We do this by standing up for our beliefs and values. We surround ourselves with awesome humans. We choose to work in meaningful businesses that develop and grow the individual, the team, and the community. We celebrate disruptive innovation and practice the art of turning thoughts into reality.
This week is another turning point. I refuse to give in to terrorism or coercion.
Terrorism: the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.
Coercion: the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal (as discharge from employment) or other intimidating behavior that puts a person in immediate fear of the consequences in order to compel that person to act against his or her will.
In the face of uncertainty and fear, we are moving forward and raising a new fund to battle against and minimize the impact of this new fear.
Good investment? No, great investment! The most successful entrepreneurs from Carnegie to Jobs to Gates to Branson have used hard times to create tremendous value and wealth. And I believe they would all agree that these times, like others in the past, are times for optimism and thinking forward.
What opportunity will you seize in this darkness?