Malachi Leopold shares his story of becoming an entrepreneur
September 11, 2013
From launching his business at nights and on the weekends, to getting laid off from a full-time job, Malachi Leopold shares how he became an entrepreneur.
It’s always nice to share the story of a company’s successful launch. That moment when you turn your idea into a business, is a big one. But there’s a big difference between telling the story years later – and the moment of truth itself.
For me, the moment of truth happened on Monday, July 16, 2007. It was probably around 11:00 at night, I had given my wife a kiss, turned the lights out, and was laying there drifting off to sleep. But that night, I was staring up at the ceiling, thinking to myself, “Oh shit.”
I couldn't sleep because earlier that day I had been summoned to the HR director’s office and was told, “We’re going to have to let you go.” (Happy Monday!)
I was stunned.
Truth be told, my boss had beaten me to the punch. I had never been the greatest employee. Most of my time was spent convincing myself that I was ready to take the entrepreneurial leap verses continuing to work half-heartedly for someone else. I had crunched numbers, read books, networked extensively, acquired a handful of my own clients - but “my own thing” was still limited to nights and weekends. I had never done it without a safety net.
Now here I was, fired from my job. The situation was less than ideal. My wife was in graduate school and the only savings we had was set aside was for a honeymoon. I had only three weeks of pay severance.
Leonard Bernstein, one of my heroes, has a great quote - “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”
Twenty-four hours later, I made a deal with my wife - I would take two months to prove that I could do it - without putting us into debt - or I would find another job. As part of the deal, we took our honeymoon as planned, and the moment we returned, I started hustling as if everything depended on it.
That was over six years ago, and although I'm sure I could say, “We did it!” I'm still hustling my ass off! Sure the situation is a bit different now. I have five employees, am opening a second office location this fall and can project our cash flow for a year verses couple of months (or weeks!). I'm proud to say that many of our clients now include organizations that advance entrepreneurship, including Social Venture Network, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Ashoka and Social Enterprise Alliance - and I love telling stories about entrepreneurs so much that we’re premiering the second season of “Trep Life,” a documentary series about entrepreneurs that we produce with Inc. Magazine.
It’s cool to be where we are now. It’s nice to breathe a sigh of relief that we made it. I didn’t have to get another job.
But when you’re in that moment of truth - which could be the launch of your company, or the launch of a new product, or spending that first dollar of capital that you raised to grow - expect it to be uncomfortable. Expect it to be a little terrifying. You will never be able to project years into the future to see how it all works out. You won’t be able to predict the opportunities, or disasters, that will come your way. But one thing I've learned is that being able to roll with opportunities matters more than the nature of the opportunities themselves. In other words, opportunities will come to you as both
moments of “This is awesome!” and as disguised opportunities that come in the form of a complete disaster, such as “You’re fired.”
Roll with it!
Malachi Leopold is the Founder and CEO of Left Brain/Right Brain Productions. Malachi started out making small web videos for solopreneurs while working in the finance industry. LBRB Productions is focused on bridging the worlds of creative art and creative business.