Turning Local Tragedy Into Fuel To Make A Bigger Impact – The Roseburg Shooting

Picture I took at Umpqua Community College during last years Roseburg Angel Investor Network competition… Daniel Clancey, CEO of Homeschool Snowboarding apparel company lookout out over the majestic view from UCC

The day started like any other “travel day” in the past.

My wife and I were flying to Charleston, SC for a friends wedding and some business meetings. We just landed on our 2nd of 3 legs of the trip and I turned on my phone like we all tend to do when we land.

Within seconds I could tell this wasn’t the normal uneventful landing routine I’d been through before.

Over and over again, almost like it was malfunctioning, my phone kept buzzing and buzzing…

… when I noticed one after another, text messages from worried friends and family were flashing across my phone.

To say the least, I was confused as heck.

The messages were coming in so fast all I could see was the person’s name and a fragment of a sentence before the next text message loaded and filled up my screen even more. A tragedy hit all too close to home (as we all know too well now) and in those seconds all I could do was run through the mental rolodex of anyone I could have possibly known who may have been up at UCC and praying the news my friends were watching somehow “got it wrong” and it was all a hoax or something.

As we all now know, what shook our community and dozens of families… and even our whole nation… is as real as it gets.

After my wife and I landed in Charleston (where we also experienced the worse flooding that area has “ever” seen) my thoughts immediately went to the question many of us ponder when these kinds of things happen.

First off, “why?”.

Which we’ll all try to find the answer to that forever… but we’ll likely never really understand it.

But next it was immediately to the thought of… “You never really know what is going to happen and am I doing enough with my time I do have on this earth to make the most of my time and to make the biggest POSITIVE impact while I’m here that I can possibly make?”.

Because waiting until “tomorrow” to finally do what makes your heart sing and positively impact people, frankly may eventually be too late. You just never know.

That’s a harder question perhaps.

And it’s directly related to our decisions as entrepreneurs.

But it also is something every single human being should put serious thought into… whether you’re an entrepreneur or not.

As an entrepreneur…

… the first thing that many of us focus on is the financial reward and the “freedom” that can come with it if you build your business right.

Also, the notoriety of doing well in business, and business can be pretty darn fun as well.

But what has happened to me over the years, and I’ve written about it before, is that many of us come to a point where we experience what I call the “empty promise of entrepreneurship“. I’m pretty sure I coined that term… 🙂

Those things that we seek out before we become entrepreneurs… when they come to fruition… many times they aren’t what you thought they would be.

The money is great, that is, until…

… you’re paying your bills and already have enough to live the lifestyle you want… then the continued pursuit of that very thing can sometimes lead to you being miserable.

The freedom? If you do it wrong (which most of us do the first couple of times) your company can actually be the very thing that traps you the most.

The notoriety? Many entrepreneurs gain that notoriety… but not for something that gives them that lasting fulfillment in life that they’re really looking for. The notoriety often comes from surface level “achievements” that can be fleeting (the Inc. 500 list, being a good businessman, knowing how to make money, etc.).

And this can all make us second guess what we’re doing everyday.

It can make us think entrepreneurship was an empty promise to a happier, more successful, and more fulfilled life… that just didn’t deliver.

This also applies to all of us who seek out jobs based on the surface level things. Things that suddenly aren’t too awfully important in the whole scheme of things during tragedies like this.

But entrepreneurship CAN completely deliver on that promise if…

… you flip the equation like I’ve learned to do more and more over the past couple years.

Flip the “promise of entrepreneurship” you have in your mind from being focused on money, freedom, and your notoriety… to the fulfillment you get from it being more based on the positive impacts that platform can help you achieve at a faster and bigger rate than you could doing it as an individual.

Many entrepreneurs figure this out sooner than others. Heck, the rise of “social entrepreneurship” has proven that many today figure out how to start their company by flipping the equation first.

That platform can help you spread the message that you’re truly passionate about, it can help make a massive difference in your world (whether that difference is concentrated on your community… or the whole world), that platform can attract amazing people who can help be a part of that mission you have in your core.

The platform we’re building at Carrot…

For us at my local Roseburg, Oregon software startup, Carrot, our Core Values (oncarrot.com/values) say it all.

And this tragedy in Roseburg reminded me to not look at my company as something that can potentially get in my way of my true mission in life by bogging me down with tasks… but that to treat the company as the vehicle that can help us amplify that mission to impact more people.

For instance, two of our Core Values reverberated through my mind in the wake of the shooting.

Our core values on “Be A Beacon Of Positivity And Possibility” and “Always Genuinely Care“.

If we can find ways to get these messages consistently to our customers, subscribers, team members, community, followers, and their networks… a ripple effect starts to happen… and maybe, just maybe it’ll impact those people who would have otherwise ended up carrying out these unimaginable acts… maybe… just maybe they’d feel like they’re valued here on this earth and are guided on a different path in life BEFORE they make that decision.

You never know.

We truly do live these within our company, with our customers, and team members… and even just these 2 core values can make a massive difference when all of us in society live them and spread them more.

A really great example of this is Dutch Bros. They announced free coffee for a while… in hopes of using their platform to raise even more money for victims and their families than they would if they just stroked a check.

Here’s another one… 

Also, a local 30 year old took his skills, passion, and energy and started making these simple yard signs and keychains after the shooting with the hopes of raising $500 for the UCC victims.  Almost 2 weeks later that $500 goal has exploded into almost $100,000 and thousands of yard signs made and sold that will be donated to the UCC Victims fund.  (you can buy one here)

So what can you do within your business and your energy to bring greater purpose to why your business exists?

How can you use that business and your energy as a platform to make a massive positive difference in the wake of this tragedy?

Heck, it doesn’t have to be this specific tragedy… or any tragedy at all. But how can you use your business to be that platform to reach more people and impact them in far greater ways than just selling a product?

Sometimes tragedies like this bring us together and give us a lot of perspective on life… and how we’re currently living it.

If you feel that entrepreneurship has been delivering you an “empty promise” of happiness and fulfillment that you’re just not seeing come true… you just may find that by moving your mission and “making a difference” activities higher… your profits will increase (as they have done at Carrot), the positive difference you’re making in this world will amplify, and your business can be a lasting platform long after you’re gone.

Be that Beacon of Positivity and Possibility…

For Carrot, we’re going to find more and more ways to be that “beacon of positivity and possibility” and “always genuinely care“…

… because we know that when people consistently experience these things in their lives it creates a butterfly effect that can reverberate through families, communities, and the whole world. Pray for the victims and families… and use your platform and energy to make a difference.

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