Leaning In — The Start of a new Chapter
I’ve lived, schooled, and worked in the DC area for my entire life, and I’m an entrepreneur. Yet I know next to nothing about the DC entrepreneurship community. So I’ve decided to dive in. Why? For starters, I was catapulted out of the comfortable job that I buried myself into for the last 8 years when it suddenly failed. That really sucked. But I’ve decided to turn that failure into an opportunity and reconnect with the DC entrepreneurship community I’ve missed out on for far too long. These used to be my people, yet work became the perfect excuse to not stay connected. Slowly, I lost touch with this scene and now I know practically no one. That’s about to change. I’m going to visit a new co-working space every week and share my experience with you. Hopefully, we both can learn more about what’s happening here in the District, the people making it happen, and how this community reflects the way our world is changing at large.
Let me back up and tell you more about how I got here.
December 14, 2016 was the worst day of my professional adult life. A week prior, some unexpected news was delivered with devastating consequences. Namely, the shuttering of the company that had not only become my career over the last 8 years, but my family as well. That Wednesday, as I drove into the office, I fought back tears knowing the news that would be delivered that morning to our team.
Three days later, in the blink of an eye, it was all over. Our staff was laid off; half the team had been connected with opportunities at other companies. Our biggest contracts were shifted to our partners without a single appointment cancellation. The office was boxed up ready to be left for the bank. I was in awe of the character of our team to bring things down for a smooth landing when there was no incentive to do so. We joked that we even went out of business efficiently.
And just like that, greeNEWit shifted from the vision of my future to the pages of my history.
In the wake of those weeks, with a new year approaching, I was left in a position to start a completely new chapter of my life. One with a prequel, but no preface.
I had built a reputation at greeNEWit as the guy with the answers. But now I was left only with questions.
So what do I do now?
The answer came quickly. A surprise to me given my tendency to think through all angles before making a decision. And while my conscious hadn’t, my intuition had. The world of self-employment was calling. I missed having a business of my own, and this was my opportunity. I felt ready.
Though that first answer came quickly, the questions that followed came quicker.
What exactly is it that I’m trying to do?
Will companies see my value proposition the way I do?
Where do I even start?
In the months since making that decision, I’ve done more personal growth than the past few years combined. I’ve come to appreciate how much I learned over the past 8 years at greeNEWit. The opportunity of experiencing the full life cycle of a company as I advanced from the second employee into the COO was incredible. But I’ve also come to realize that my life had become very safe. I was doing more teaching than learning. And burying myself in the business was an easy way out from having to do the things I hated and feared.
This realization, among many others, came from an incredible 3 day emotional intelligence seminar I recently participated in. I learned how the easy road often reinforces limiting beliefs, and it’s only by getting outside of your comfort zone that allows you to test your paradigms. And mine certainly were tested.
I learned that the part of myself that I viewed as my biggest strength — my intellect and rationality — was actually holding me back in more ways than I realized. Holding me back from being creative and empathetic. Holding me back from developing new relationships. Holding me back from participating in new experiences.
I’ve also come to learn how strongly my brain is wired to view patterns and relationships. In many ways this has served me well, but it’s also created a need for me to anchor myself to things within my environment that I have an existing connection with. So when there’s a situation where there’s nothing to anchor to — say a networking event or, God forbid, eating alone in a restaurant — I get anxious or I simply just don’t show up.
So in the spirit of counter-intuitive thinking, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to show up. Each week, I am going to visit a new co-working space in DC. And each week, I’ll blog about my experience as I strive to learn new things from the DC entrepreneurial community, see how my ideas about business and the world resonate with others, and discover new things about myself.
This is me living my questions. It’s me leaning into life. And its me remembering simply to be.