Happy Father’s Day!

I’m writing this to you from my couch after an early morning coffee with my father-in-law as he passed through town, and a great brunch with my parents, Rachel and my boys. The day has gotten off to a great start, and I hope yours has as well.

On Tuesday of last week, I was on a two person panel at a young professional event with Mike Shmerling. Mike is a very successful entrepreneur and investor, and respected community leader here in Nashville. I serve on the Nashville Entrepreneur Center board with him and two of my very close friends have companies in his portfolio, but I didn’t know Mike or his story all that well before last Tuesday.

We were both asked to share our story about how we came to be where we are as entrepreneurs, and after Mike shared his, I honestly wondered if I had any shot at being anywhere near as successful and effective as an entrepreneur as he had become. Mike spent 17 years (I think I got that right) as a CPA at Ernst and Young, working with many businesses to ensure that their finances were in line. Over that career, he began to see patterns in the businesses and could distill what the successful ones did down to a short list of things.

With that short list, he went out on his own and since then has built and sold 5 companies, invested in many successful ones, and continues to own and operate several successful businesses through his company XMi Holdings. Clearly, his pattern recognition worked, the guy is basically printing money.

When I heard him share his story, I got pretty self conscious.

Holy crap… I DO NOT have that blueprint. I did not spend 17 years looking at hundreds of company’s financials and talking to their leaders to figure out what worked and what didn’t. And I wasn’t going to be able to. I’ll never catch up to Mike.

I carried that feeling for about half the day.

I don’t stay down long though, so when I snapped out of it, I realized some things.

  • I have my own patterns that I’ve witnessed (many first hand) and I continue to build my own model for success based on my experience. Experience as a technologist, a marketer, a business developer, a manager and a creative. Not an accountant. I probably wouldn’t have started the companies that Mike did, the way he did, and that’s not a bad thing.
  • I don’t need to be Mike. I can learn from Mike. I can watch him and study what he has done and reverse engineer it if I want. And if I’m lucky, maybe I can count him as a mentor.
  • I’m not in competition with Mike, I’m in competition with myself. Mike, if anything, is an inspiration and reminder of how awesome it is to be an entrepreneur.

There, that’s better. Back in my truth and my power.

There is no one path. Be inspired by other’s lives, but as J. Cole says, Love Yours.

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