Aaron Lee is the CEO and founder of iluma Agency (formerly Illuminati Studios) and joined EO South Florida in 2011.
I joined EO Accelerator in 2009, when I owned a business and my business owned me. I had been bumping up against the growth ceiling for 10 years and needed to understand why I was in business.
In the summer of 2010, just after graduating into EO, I was standing on a cliff enjoying the amazing view in Positano, Italy, when it hit me. Until then, my business plan was best summed up as, “Don’t go out of business.” Instead of funding myself and my soul, it had been draining me financially and emotionally for a decade. I stood there and realized what my big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) was. It was to return to Positano by 2020, spend six weeks there and then be able to freely choose to spend another six weeks there. If I could turn my business into something that could help me afford that choice, both in time and money, I would know I had accomplished my original dream.
Today, I am seven years into that journey—and that choice and vision have helped me shape countless daily decisions. My business is growing exponentially. We have celebrated being on the Inc. 5000 list for the past three years and among the South Florida Business Journal Fast 50 and Best Places to Work. I have also served on the EO South Florida board for six of these years, including serving four years as MarCom Chair (earning the EO GCC Award in 2013), serving on the EO Miami University committee in 2013, serving two years as Learning Chair, and being elected the president of one of the largest chapters in the world (a position I hold now). This year I was invited by EO Global Chairman Brian Brault to participate as a member leader and signer of the EO partnership supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
My company is now four times larger in staff and nearly 10 times larger in revenue than when I began EO Accelerator. I’ll spend three days in Positano next May to begin scouting my summer home for 2020. Getting clear about the purpose of my business and tying it to a BHAG has fueled and inspired me for the past seven years and continues to do so today.
One of the most meaningful discoveries I made in EO Accelerator was that I was not alone as an entrepreneur. Before that, I often felt like I had no one to turn to. Accelerator made it safe not to know all the answers. That freedom to accept my failures, successes and countless bad decisions allowed me to forgive myself and refocus on the things that really mattered to me.
EO Accelerator allowed me to accept my mistakes, fill my experience gaps with wisdom and create an inspiring vision for my business.