September 22, 2023

In 2014, I sold my business to Home Depot. 
My journey included failed acquisitions, partnerships gone wrong, perpetual self-doubt, deaths in the family, corporate buy-outs, brutal market competition, and a complete disruption of industry leaders — including Amazon and big-box retailers.
The journey was significantly more difficult than I had ever imagined. But don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the ride. Every second of it. I wouldn’t change a thing. It was worth it.
There’s a great quote from Naval Ravikant that goes, “We play the game to be free of it.” 
And I’m honestly not sure if I agree with that. There’s always a question looming for entrepreneurs who exit the business they founded: Now what?
Everyone who sells their company always says they’re going to do “nothing.” Sit on the beach. Take vacations. Catch up with friends and family. Change their iMessage photo to a motorcycle. You know what that’s called? “Living the dream.”
But what no one tells you about that dream is that once you’re living it, you quickly get over it. You get bored. You start dreaming again.
An entrepreneur who spends 30 years building a business full of ups and downs doesn’t just quit and do nothing. Their DNA is to create.
My advice for everyone reading this? It’s never over. And it’s never too late to start something new. Don’t play the game to be free of it. Play the game to enjoy it. Be present.
After the acquisition, I stayed with Home Depot for six years. The day before I officially left Home Depot, I penned an article that said, “It’s not retirement, it’s re-wirement.”
When [your kids] get on the school bus for the first time. Go away to college. Get married. Your job as a parent is to love them. That’s the easy part. And to help them become resilient and self-reliant. That’s the very hard part.
So too for entrepreneurs when they sell their businesses and let go. And then walk away from that business, as I’m doing tomorrow, May 1, 2020.
It’s hard to let go.
One night I met the conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, AndreĢs Orozco-Estrada, after a concert performance. I asked him how the musicians were able to smile while they were obviously working so intensely on the music, which had a particularly tricky syncopation. He responded, “The harder the piece, the more they enjoy playing it.”
When you’re doing nothing, you tend to miss playing the game. You miss the challenge. 
So after the acquisition in 2014, you’d think I would start the process of retiring. 
Well just like the Hertz commercial says, “not exactly.” 
I wasn’t ready for retirement. I was ready for what was next.
So I did what any sane person would do: I wrote a book. It was another four-year journey. It became a Wall Street Journal best-selling book.
And again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
So was I done after the book launch?
Well, I’m sorry to say that I started another journey: Public speaking. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at prestigious universities and institutions around the world via Zoom and in-person!
But now I’m officially ready to start my “re-wiring” process again.
And this time, I’m ready for a different kind of fun, I’m ready to do “nothing.”
Just like Orozco-Estrada said to me, “you should enjoy what you’re doing.” The more challenging the task, the more rewarding the accomplishment. If you’re not smiling during your most difficult moments, you’re doing something wrong.
At this stage in my life, “enjoy the ride” is my favorite core value because I understand it more fully now than ever before.
What’s interesting about fun is that research has shown that people seem to be more authentic, and can be more conceptual and creative, when they’re having fun and are at ease. When you push people too hard to perform, they actually perform worse. And they certainly don’t do any more than they’re told. So loosen up.
I’m using this time to catch up. I have made a pact with myself that I won’t be setting up new phone calls and new meetings. Basically, I’m going to do “nothing” so I can get back to all the things I need to do, however minor, and finally knock them out. Oh, and play pickleball!


About Author

Leave a Reply