“Stefan, may I speak to you a second?” “Sure, Tre, what’s up?”
“Your personal story you just shared, really hit home for me. I was on the other side of what happened to you. I was the driver.”
This past Saturday I had just finished presenting to a group of participants in the Defy Ventures program here in NYC that Tre was in. Defy works with formerly incarcerated men and women now looking to start their businesses. People just completing sentences on hard crimes: manslaughter, drug dealing, rape, and so on.
In 2004 Trevaughn Hall was 21 and speeding at night in Brooklyn in his car with a friend. They just left a Christmas party and were trying to catch up to some other friends in a car ahead of them.
In a flash moment, Tre lost control of his vehicle, killing his friend and a 4 year-old girl in another vehicle in the oncoming traffic lane.
Recently Tre finished five years in prison for manslaughter because of this.
In the Defy program, Tre is working on getting back on his feet. He has started a cupcake / baking company. For him, baking is fun and he is good at it.
But during the presentation, I noticed Tre might be focusing on the wrong business model. I called him on it.
I told him there are two things that make a successful entrepreneur:
And while having things like an MBA, great rolodex of contacts, experience, etc. can be really helpful, without #1 and #2 above, you’re dead in the water.
Why? Because we entrepreneurs get knocked on our asses a lot. And what gets us back up to keep working on the business are these two things. It is the first thing investors will look for, as well as other stakeholders.
Tre then told me that while he likes baking, it is not his deepest passion.
A few minutes with him focusing on what he’s truly passionate about and he is now seriously considering changing his model: working with children, helping them find their way in life. Being a mentor they can reach out to on life’s decisions.
And while Trevaughn’s prison sentence is now over, his tremendous feeling of guilt is not. He cannot stop thinking about the little girl and his friend who are no longer.
He told me that with his new business idea, he would love to have children thanking him for saving their lives. I think he is on to something!
And for me, Tre’s story also really hit home. For the first time since 2002, where I was nearly killed in a hit-and-run, I thought about what it must be like for the driver.
If he feels anything like Tre does, I much rather deal with my recovery than his.
At the end of our very intimate moment on Saturday, I hugged Tre and bought a box of his delicious red velvet cupcakes.
Let the healing begin.
Action Steps for the Week
Are you passionate about your business? If so, great. What makes you love it so? Put that answer in writing and in a place you see it on a regular basis.
You’ll need the reminders!
And if not, why not? Is it something that needs tweaking in your business model? If so what and how?
If it is something that just doesn’t get you excited anymore, can you resurrect the energy? What would have to happen for that?
And if it just ain’t doin’ it for you, contemplate your exit strategy from the business. What has to happen for you to follow your dream elsewhere?
Then put a plan in place to make it happen.