It is not in the stars that holds our destiny, but in ourselves.
A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with an old college friend who I had not seen in about 10 years due to his relocation to South Florida in 2006.
There is nothing appreciably unusual about this as I have many friends who have moved out of the area only to return every so often to visit family and/or friends.
We spent the better part of 2 hours describing our respective decade long journeys, culminating with our thoughts about our future plans in the near-term.
Towards the end of our conversation, my friend confessed to me that he was truly happy to see me in my current state.
"Jimmy, I have to be honest with you... when I left 10 years ago... you weren’t doing too well", he said earnestly.
"You seemed like you were really struggling financially to make ends meet... even to a point where you were considering abandoning your business and taking a job working for someone else."
At first I thought my friend was joking around with me but from his face, I could see that he was serious.
"I was really concerned for your health and well-being", he whispered to me as though he thought he was revealing a dark secret.
"I wanted to call you up to see how you were doing... but frankly... I didn’t really know what I’d say to you".
His sincere concern put a big smile on my face.
"Well... things were definitely tight back in 2006... and truth be told... they got a lot worse by 2009.
"You would have thought that I would have had a lot of sleepless nights... but in fact, I slept really well.
"The way I figured it, I was doing all that I could to keep it all together so each night I was physically and mentally exhausted so I didn’t have any problems sleeping", I laughed.
We soon left each other’s company with the promises that it wouldn’t be another 10 years before we saw each other again.
Later that day I stooped to mull over the conversation at lunch.
I remember things were close to the edge, but at no time did I ever feel as though the situation was hopeless or did I feel as though I was out of options.
As I gathered my thoughts and pondered back to that time, I soon discovered why the situation looked a lot worse from the outside than from my perspective on the front lines... but throughout it all I never felt like "all was lost"... even at a time when OptiFuse was experiencing great peril.
Although we might not have had a full wind at our backs, OptiFuse never lost its way.
We never abandoned our core values and the reasons why we started OptiFuse in the first place.
Even whilst cash-flows were tight, we never lost sight of our "why". We were always drawn to the vision of "what-if" rather than "how much".
Our mission at OptiFuse was... and is... simply to provide high quality products that help to protect people and equipment.
We are in the business of protection not the electronic industry...
This is the idea we never forgot at any time.
During our days at work, we often get bogged down in the minutia... so much so, that we often forget why we’re there in the first place.
I can say without a doubt that we have one of the best teams ever assembled.
Not everyone has a college degree or an MBA, but a formal education isn’t what makes this team special.
Even in the worst of times, we all enjoyed coming to the office (or going out on the road if you happened to be in sales).
We all worked hard, but more importantly, we did the "hard work"... doing the hard work include those things that are uncomfortable but are necessary... such as collection calls or sitting down to create something new from nothing.
Sometimes we fight with each other over strategies, policies, procedures or implementation.
We might attack an idea... but we never attack the person and always try to treat everyone with respect.
No one pretends to have all the answers. We make mistakes... we’re human... we admit when we’re wrong and try to learn from those mistakes so we don’t make those same mistakes again.
When things weren’t going as well as we would have liked, we sat together to try to develop new ideas that could help...
It’s never about keeping score... taking credit... and shirking blame... it’s about working together for one common goal... and picking us up when things look bleak.
In addition to our direct employees, we also have a fantastic group of professional service providers, product vendors and loyal customers. When the going got tough, these people and companies asked how they could help while others, not so loyal, were quick to abandon us.
At no time did I feel like I was in the situation alone... I was in the game with my teammates and I certainly didn’t want to let them down and they didn’t want to let me down.
To say that anyone is successful on sheer talent or skills alone are just kidding themselves.
Luck, good and bad, can play a big part in determining whether a company finds success or not.
Now our original business plan didn’t contain a section called "win the lottery" but we most certainly had our own share of lucky breaks along the way.
Whether it was finding a new vendor partner or key customer, someone buying our building for a ridiculous sum, or chance meeting a private lender who bucked conventional wisdom and rolled the dice with us... each of these events were fortuitous and allowed us the opportunity to keep going.
Miracles sometimes do happen... or maybe it’s just a case of God helping those who help themselves.
At no time did we really feel that we we’re not going to make it.
Sure there might be some momentary pain (I still remember the day when we all needed to take deep pay-cuts to keep afloat), but we never stopped believing in ourselves and the people we were working beside.
We never felt like we were victims or that things wouldn’t get better if we just worked really hard and continued to make good decisions.
Things eventually did get better (after getting a bit worse in the onset of the Great Recession).
We periodically reminiscence, looking back at those moments, and feel a sense of humility and gratitude that we somehow survived.
It helps us to remember that there are a lot of people who haven’t been blessed with the same good fortunes that were often bestowed upon us.
Failure isn’t permanent... but a bad attitude can prevent a person and/or organization from achieving success when the time is right.
Our own destinies are often uncertain...
The goal of riding the roller coaster at an amusement park is not to get to the end but rather to be thrilled by the journey.
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse as we walk together, arm-in-arm, fulfilling our individual destinies.
Jim Kalb President
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.optifuse.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse