Living the Roller Coaster Life: How I Transformed Turbulence into Triumph

Back in 1996, our company appeared in a magazine featuring the fastest-growing companies in Canada. This led to an invitation to attend an event with like-minded entrepreneurs who were getting together to learn, share, and help each other along the entrepreneurial journey. That was my introduction to what is now the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).

I quickly realized after joining a Forum that EO wasn’t just there to help you get rich but to support the complete entrepreneur, from wealth creation to emotional support, community, and education. The organization exists to help entrepreneurs become better versions of themselves and find community and support as we walk what can often be a lonely path.

In the nearly 30 years since, I’ve come to count on EO and my Forum for support and guidance through every stage of the multiple companies I’ve run and every challenge an entrepreneur can face.

Here are four ways being a member of EO has enhanced my life as an entrepreneur:

1. Finding Strategic Support

Running a business is no easy feat. In fact, it’s more like riding a roller coaster of highs and lows. My Forum has been an anchor in tumultuous waters, playing a pivotal role throughout my career. I can’t over-emphasize how highly I value the role my Forum has played in my life. My Forum members helped me get through the dot-com crash when my publicly traded company collapsed, and I had to start all over again. They supported me through every major decision I made at the company. I recall the day before my IPO roadshow — how nervous I was — and how I presented my pitch deck to my Forum, and they shared valuable insights and honest feedback. They were also there to help me exit companies, sharing their experiences on how to maximize value during the process. I was able to deepen my understanding of business by learning about their companies and helping them overcome the obstacles they faced.

2. Sharing What I’ve Learned

In 2012, I was asked to speak at EO’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT by Patrick Thean, who was my CEO coach at the time. He wanted me to share what I had learned on my journey, and why I had successfully started, scaled, and exited companies so many times. What was that formula? What was the code that I had cracked? I looked back and began to understand that operating your company in Scale was very different than in Start. And Exiting was a whole other challenge. I had learned that story, people, money, and systems changed during each stage of the company.

I have learned many lessons over the years from speakers including Verne Harnish, who wrote Scaling Up, and Patrick, who wrote Rhythm. I learned that scaling is more about a formula to follow than gut instinct and that it can be replicated over and over again.

Today, each of my companies has value statements, daily huddles, goal setting, and quarterly strategic planning using the software designed by Rhythm Systems.

3. Becoming an Author

My lecture at MIT led to a 10-year journey of writing a book and interviewing dozens of authors, experts, and serial entrepreneurs, many of whom were in EO. We truly could not put this book together without the support of my EO friends and the wisdom they shared.

4. Identifying Blind Spots

In 2017, my Forum approached me and suggested that I had a work-life balance issue. They pointed out that I had devoted too much time to work and was focused on winning at all costs, at the price of neglecting my health, my family, and other priorities. This had a profound impact on me, and I started a journey to transform myself in healthy ways. I began to learn how to delegate responsibilities and not just tasks. I resigned as CEO and now partner with other entrepreneurs who run my companies day-to-day. Time has become more strategic, and I think a lot more about who I am as a person, my health, and the precious time I get to spend with family and friends.

Entrepreneurship is a trade like any other trade, and continued learning and development is the key to honing that trade. EO exists to move the world forward by unlocking the full potential of entrepreneurs like me, and I’m grateful for that opportunity.

My title is not CEO of this or that company. I do not confine myself to a single organization; I navigate the unpredictable seas of innovation and opportunity. I redefine success, challenge norms, and create paths where none existed before. I thrive in the realm of uncertainty, where every decision is a calculated risk and every setback becomes a lesson learned.

My title is entrepreneur.

Contributed to EO by Colin C. Campbell, an EO South Florida member, owner of Startup Club, serial tech entrepreneur, and award-winning author of Start. Scale. Exit. Repeat.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

Categories: Entrepreneurial Journey Inspirational Lessons Learned WORK-LIFE INTEGRATION

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