Harry C. Sweere – the founder of the company I work for, told me this story before he died (paraphrased from memory):
In 1988, five years after we started, I was broke; I had no viable products in the market, little cash flow, and no workable plans for a new product. My house was over mortgaged, I owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to my friends and family, and I still couldn’t make the payroll. I sat in my office feeling depressed and defeated. I was about to call a meeting in the warehouse to tell the employees we were out of money and I couldn’t pay them and that I was closing the company. After that, I planned to call all the people that invested in our company and tell them it was over, I was closing the doors, and their investment capital was gone.
But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let everyone go. I couldn’t tell the investors I had failed. I called a friend at the bank and he helped me secure a $500,000 dollar loan at 15% interest – enough to keep us running for another six months. I didn’t know how I’d pay back the loan. But I had faith we would come up with some way to save our business. Shortly after that, one of our engineers developed a unique ball-pivot assembly that we sold to manufacturers worldwide. We paid off the loan in less than six months and we never looked back.
Today his company builds the finest ergonomic products on earth and does business in 65 nations worldwide. The drive and compassion of our founder thrives in our culture, even after his passing.
So I thought… how can I apply his wisdom to my life?
My site started out with a frenzy of traffic and attention from social media sites. It started with How to Break a Negative Thought Pattern and really broke through with 10 Things I Learned from My 4-Year-Old. After 10 Reasons Target is Better than Wal-Mart got farked, I felt compelled to thank those who inspired me by posting How this Blog Attracted 100,000 Visitors in the first 30 days.
For the next 4-5 months, writing was easy – it was a daily joy. But around the 6-month mark, I descended into an emotional and productive valley; right around the time I was trapped in my house during a blizzard. I’ve read that the six-month mark is when most bloggers quit – they’ve used up their best material, the newness of it fades, they aren’t making much money, and it seems like work without pay so they quit.
Seth Godin describes these productive, creative, financial, and emotional valleys as dips which serve us if we can identify them and push through them. All people in entrepreneurial or creative ventures experience dips and the dips weed out the competition and create scarcity in the marketplace. Those that make it past the dips are the ones that create the real value. I am grateful Harry Sweere pushed through his dip and made an amazing and positive impact on the world.
What do you do to push through your dips?