Soon after joining the Entrepreneurs Organization, I got involved as a mentor with Accelerator. Accelerator is a program run by EO that helps early stage entrepreneurs “accelerate” past the million-dollar mark. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a mentor; by asking questions, listening and sharing experiences with my mentees I helped them avoid some of the classic Entrepreneurial pitfalls. In return, working with the Accelerators re-energized me, sharpened my leadership skills and kept me on the cutting edge of the latest business trends (classic win/win).
So, when the opportunity came to act as Accelerator Chair for Vancouver, I jumped in.
I arrived at the Chicago Global Leadership Conference wide-eyed, excited for my training and ready to rock. Realty set in fast. I learned that my Accelerator chapter was “red flagged”, membership in Vancouver was dwindling and our local board was not “bought in”. All of our mentors had jumped ship; some Accelerator members had gone rogue and even worse, some no longer qualified for the program. Yikes, what had I gotten myself into?
On the plane ride home, I put together a “turn around” plan; it wasn’t pretty and it looked like a tonne of work. I was busy with my own business and three young kids; I didn’t have the time to execute the plan. I seriously considered flaking out.
Waiting for me when I landed was a voicemail from one of my mentees. He had landed an important client, a tipping point for his business and he was over the moon. His excitement and passion completely lifted my spirits and reminded why I got involved with Accelerator in the first place.
That voicemail was all it took. That same passion, positive energy and tenacity that propelled my mentee to his first big win were going to the catalysis for turning around Accelerator Vancouver. There was no momentum to capture and no legacy to build upon. But, I believed in the program and I had a Vision. In short, I cared and I hoped that would be enough.
I put together a committee of amazing people and we set to work turning around Accelerator Vancouver. To make a long story short, in one year we grew membership from four to twenty, our Accelerators grew their business by 25% on average, we added five incredible EO mentors and the Vancouver chapter as a whole, bought in.
The lessons learned during my year as Accelerator Chair were many. Without a doubt my “nugget” was the power of positivity. At our darkest hour, when I wondered if anyone would show for our first recruitment event and our success was in doubt, I relied on positive Leadership. Really, that’s all I had to offer, passion and positive energy.
The lessons learned have been transformational to my leadership style, which in the past, hinged on intensity and singular focus. My staff at Wolfgang has noticed the difference and they have commented many times how they appreciate my calm and positive support. Never thought I would hear that!
So, thanks Accelerator Vancouver for a fantastic year and an invaluable lesson. What a ride, what a blast!