An entrepreneur’s biggest opportunity: stop and think about this, please

This is by far the most difficult post I have ever written for several reasons. First, it is the first time I am publicly writing (outside my personal network) about the loss of my father-in-law. Second, I write with humility that there is something wrong with me (and others like me) who think the future is only a product of how we handle today.

90 days ago my father-in-law was killed in a car accident on Ortega Highway, a poorly planned, dangerous and over-crowded road connecting South Orange County and Riverside county. Through this I have learned the definition of “tragic”, a word I had used flippantly until now.

Saying Mike was my father-in-law doesn’t really do our relationship justice, as he and I have known each other since I was 17. By all accounts, Mike was my Dad.

 

Mike provided guidance throughout his life with his actions. He was an entrepreneur from an early age and hustled his way through life by creating opportunities in the present and finding his way to provide for his family day to day.

Mike and I were (are) wired the same. We know the importance of planning ahead, but for some reason we value our own ability to put out the present fires over the ability to invest in those building blocks that lead to protection of the future; building blocks such as life insurance, succession planning, estate planning or long-term retirement goals.

Over the last several days I have spoken with several friends about this topic with the hopes of alerting them to the importance of stopping the grind for one moment and thinking about the future, about tomorrow.

“As Entrepreneurs we believe how well we do in the NOW determines how we will do in the FUTURE.” Thus, we fail to plan for the what-ifs and view that level of investment (time and money) as a luxury.

One friend agreed and added, “Its tough to worry about the future when the now includes rent, payroll, cash flow and taxes.”

Another, who interestingly is now advising and leading venture backed businesses added, “Entrepreneurs DO plan for the future but take irrational steps to get there”.

I tend to agree with the both of them. Somehow we rationalize a prioritization of just getting through the next 90 days over planning for the unknowns as it feels like something we can better control. But the reality is that we can control the unknown if we only stop to think about it.

And that is the point of this note….stop and think about it.

I am missing Mike a lot today. I miss my friend, father, and entrepreneurial kindred spirit. I learned a ton from Mike over the years and will do my best to continue his legacy for the next generation. It is his passion for life and giving back to others that fuels my newly found interest in planning for the future and becoming an advocate for entrepreneurs to stop and think about it.

Ironically, Dave Hanley, a high-school friend of mine (whom I have known since the same time as my father-in-law) just launched a new app today called Tomorrow, on the anniversary of my father-in-law’s untimely death. I know that if Mike had seen the app he would have signed up and sent Dave a personal note of thanks and congratulations. And I want Dave to know that had he used the app, it would have changed things greatly for his family today. I encourage all of you to stop, think about the future, and plan for whatever tomorrow brings.

Tomorrow Overview from Tomorrow on Vimeo.

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