Life Happens

When the stuff hits the fan, it really hits the fan.  Blogs can do different things for people, and today my blog will be a bit cathartic, for me.

Over the past week and a half, a deal I was doing diligence on blew up.  I had been working on it consistently for four months.  Sucks, but that’s business.  The problem is real people with real lives get impacted.  In the future, I plan to schedule some blog posts about what I learned about this whole debacle, but put it in loose terms so anyone in the entrepreneur community can apply it to their situation.

This deal blew up in ways I never saw deals blow up before.  Really kind of went to my core where you question a lot of things.  Hard to understand.  One of the positives from the debacle is I have reconnected with many people I once knew, connected with some new people that will become a trusted part of my personal network, and I learned a lot about people.  The other positive is I came out with some new ideas on ways to help continue to build the entrepreneurial community in Chicago.

Tip to any entrepreneurial accelerator out there; one of the courses you might want to think about teaching is business ethics.  When the FBI sting happened at the exchanges in the late 1980’s, the CFTC forced every member to take an ethics class.  In the “It’s a Small World” category, the guy that taught that class was Marc Kadish.   When I moved downtown, my daughter and his daughter became close friends.  He and his wife are friends of mine to this day.  Any accelerator that wanted to implement a program around this would be lucky to have Marc.  Plus, he already has a template.

As I was navigating this debacle, three other things happened.  But one really hit me hard.  Business things I can deal with.  Personal, family type things are rougher.

As I go through life I like to collect friends.  Not because you need them for certain things, but because I genuinely like people.  I am interested in them.  When I was five, I met Kevin, who became best man at my wedding.  We met on the first day of kindergarten.  As Kevin and I traversed our way through grade school, middle school, then high school, we were part of a core group of friends that have stuck together to this day. It’s been a long ride.  We realize, having a group like this isn’t normal.  Yesterday, I found out one of our group has a pretty bad form of cancer.  He was diagnosed the day after Christmas.

Business is fun and games.  Starting up, investing in, and interfacing with entrepreneurs is rewarding and exhausting.  But, when one of your closest friends has cancer there is nothing exhilarating or rewarding about it.

People of the male persuasion when confronted with a problem always think of ways to “fix it”.  Women tend to talk through their problems and form support networks around them.  That’s why something like this is so devastating.  No one can fix it.   We are powerless.

There is one piece of good news.  One person in our group, Mike Spehn, had a terrible thing happen to his family.  He and his second wife, Gina, wrote a book about it, The Color of Rain.  I would urge you to read the book because it’s an amazing story.  I am sure my close knit group of friends will look to Mike to quarterback us through all this.

Last night, a group of us gathered to watch the NCAA national championship game.  We couldn’t be with our afflicted buddy, because last night was his daughter’s 18th birthday.  The sentiment in the room was with Notre Dame, because we want to believe in miracles. Forgive us if our minds aren’t on the day to day routine of business life.  One of our buddies is down, and we are struggling with figuring out how to help him.

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