By: Alefiya Master, Founder & CEO, MAD-learn

Pillar 5: Holy Shit to Hell Yeah! 5 Years of MAD-learn, 5 Pivotal Moments.

This is the fifth and final post that I am sharing with you this year about the 5 Pillars that have now formed as our foundation as a five-year-old company. The first four posts can be found here in case you missed them: http://www.mad-learn.com/blog/

There is no doubt that every entrepreneur believes he or she can build a product or a business to solve real problems that exist. We often tend to think we have all the skills and resources to go off into a cave and emerge with a solution that will immediately take hold and make a difference. The reality is far from this.

I have been blessed with having people in my life that have helped me and supported me not every step of the way, but when I needed it the most. People who have told me things like

“you don’t have the experience that is needed to run a company”

and others who have said “you’re a badass and you don’t even know it”. I have had some investors tell me I need to shut the business down and others tell me they want to help me pump millions more into it. I have had team members say “you’re ineffective and you need to not ever manage people” and others say

“I love working for you and the ideals and values that you bring to the team. You have such a strong and important voice that needs to be heard.” 

A massive customer loss towards the middle of last year put our whole plan for the year in jeopardy. It was a holy shit moment that we did not expect in the least. We had one of the most successful implementations with a few pilot schools at this district and were on track to expand across the district. But then it fell through. They decided against expansion and we were left scratching our heads in bemusement. I did the only thing I knew how to at that point – talk to everyone I could think of to brainstorm, get ideas, get advice, and get outside my box.

The result of several weeks of heads down talks with amazing friends, mentors, investors, and advisors (including, but not at all limited to Susan Bearden, my very first MAD-teacher and strong supporter to this day, Dino Miele who has spent hours brainstorming ideas and guiding us on the best ways to have big impact, Vicki Davis who is an all-star teacherpreneur, wears 100 hats, does more in a day than humanly possible, and has loved and supported us since the day she discovered us, Salik Rehman who always has specific go-to strategies that I can implement right away in our business, and of course, my dad, who never stops questioning me but also never stops believing in my ability to make change) was us ending the year having doubled our growth and impact – far beyond what we thought was possible! From Holy Shit to Hell Yeah! It’s not about how hard something hits you, or how badly you think you’ve failed, it’s about everything you do to pick yourself and your team up and bounce back from it.

LISTEN, even and especially when it’s hard. It allows you to uncover your blind spots and be better for it. Know that if you can figure out a way to bounce back from the slumps, and keep your eyes and ears close to market forces that drive the feasibility of your business, you can continue to move your team and your impact forward. Never forget how important mentors and advisors can be to your process of growth. You don’t need an Advisory Board to get advice. All you have to do is be willing to ask tough questions to people who have a little more or a little different knowledge/experience/understanding than you do. And then be willing to listen, learn, and act on the change that is inevitably needed to continue to grow your impact.

Pillar five: Holy Shit to Hell Yeah!