I have seen magic happen. Serendipity. Luck. Chance. Call it what you may. Things in this life happen for a reason. While stories of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin and Larry Page have flooded newsreels and shook hearts and minds, they almost seem supernatural. Impossible even! At 20 years old Zuckerberg was launching the code of what is today’s Facebook, a multibillion-dollar company that has revolutionized the way the world communicates. At 28 Musk founded a company that once merged became largely what PayPal is today, and has since spiraled on to leading the nation in the future of human travel through SpaceX and Tesla Motors.
While these men serve as today’s titans, I have become close with the stories of others. Bill O’Hara, a close friend that I served with in the Navy, is CEO of KlowdTV, a disruptive Internet streaming television company that is going head-to-head with the likes of Comcast, Dish Networks and others. He was just written up in Inc.com and his company was just named one of the top start-ups in Washington DC.
Likewise, a friend from Notre Dame, Konrad Billetz, founder of Frameri, an innovative eyeglass and sunglass company was featured in Forbes 30 under 30 and even aired on the acclaimed television show Shark Tank!
Steve Lehman, another close friend from Notre Dame is launching Threadies, a social enterprise that is providing custom-designed teddy bears to child refugees to provide comfort and hope. In the midst of the current Syrian refugee crisis, his effort couldn’t be timelier.
One of the most influential in my journey has been Todd Connor, CEO of Bunker Labs. Todd, a Navy veteran himself, founded the nation’s premier veterans entrepreneurship incubator and has in lockstep created a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem that is connecting and igniting veteran entrepreneurs across the country. His passion and vision serves as a catalyst for this nation, and is infusing hope in the lives of so many.
We could dive into the details of how each of these entrepreneurs came to be: what they studied, who they knew…what is in their DNA. But I can tell you that they were willing to take risk, and they were passionate. They felt something. They believed in something. And they were willing to do something about it! If that’s not the beginnings of magic, then I’m not sure what is.
Harnessing this spirit and drive, I myself have been ignited to do something game changing, revolutionary, and impactful. The flurry of ideas for new ventures has been something I have kept close at my bedside. During my last years in the military, I dreamt of starting businesses.
Knowing very little of the business world, I decided to go to business school. The University of Notre Dame took me in with open arms and shared the book of knowledge and opportunity to me. With that, I have tried, and I have failed. Too many a time, I have been confined to the idea stage of many business ventures. In one of my recent endeavors as the co-founder of Frienso, a mobile app for college campus safety, my team made it well past the idea stage. We laid out the strategy. We built product. We pitched. We iterated. We pivoted. We went into testing, but yet again, fizzle…
Given these circumstances, I could shut down this part of my mind and rest comfortably by telling myself that I gave it a shot. I could envision myself in the mirror saying, “Hey Chad, it was a fun ride, but let’s be a mature adult here.” Don’t mature adults have jobs and build careers? Don’t they take incremental steps up the corporate ladder?
I found an excellent corporate ladder to hop onto. A steep one at that, as I’ve often been one for a challenge. This time in consulting has been meaningful and impactful, but at the same time it has taken me a step from where I feel I need to be as burgeoning entrepreneur.
I need to be candid, available, in the moment. I need to be me. That’s why I am taking this leap of faith.