Adversity Fosters Entrepreneurial Journey
Struggle breeds resilience that leads to success.
I am a firm believer that you cannot really be successful until you have dealt with adversity, and even failure. You need a struggle in your background to give you the grit and resilience to pursue success, because even in the best circumstances, things do not always go as planned.
In my case, the adversity came in 2004-2010. In 1998, I left a lucrative job practicing law for an in-house job with a publicly-traded mortgage company. Regular hours, no time sheets—just a normal Monday through Friday job.
That all changed in 2004 when the financial and real estate markets began to lose steam. The cash flow for the company I worked for came from securitizing loans. The cash we received from each securitization funded the loans we made the following quarter. In May 2004, the securitizing banks informed my company they would not be closing an anticipated securitization in June. Without this closing, the business was not sustainable. In an instant, the jobs of 1,100 employees, including mine, were imperiled.
During the next nine months, I was one of the people asked to stay on and manage the wind down of the company. On a weekly basis, I was tasked with laying off people. It was awful to go into the office every day and see people I had worked with for years leaving in tears with their belongings in boxes. I saw more and more empty desks every day. Eventually, it was my turn to leave.
I was lucky. I found a job immediately. Although I did not like the job or the people I was working with, it was a paycheck. In late 2005, I found another position, with another mortgage lender. Unfortunately, after a few years, that company failed also, and I was tasked with managing a second mortgage company wind down.
A pattern was beginning to emerge. After helping to close that company, I was fortunate enough to find another position with a third mortgage lender in 2008. I am sure it will not surprise anyone to read that shortly after my arrival, the partners decided to close that business too, and they kept me to manage the wind down. I had developed the unfortunate specialty of being a pro at closing mortgage lenders.
It was not a position I relished, but I was good at it. The problem at being good at it was that I was always on the brink of unemployment. As I was finishing the wind down of the third company, I laid awake at night worrying about finding my next job. My husband and I had tied our future to mortgage lending and real estate, neither of which was providing the income we had anticipated when we bought our house, cars and other items.
Then, in 2010 my life changed. I was given the opportunity to take charge of my destiny. One of the partners in the company I was finishing winding down asked me if I wanted to partner with him to start Rehab Financial Group LP. I had never imagined myself an entrepreneur. Yet he and I built RFG into a very successful mortgage lending company. The first few years were very difficult, but I had learned from my prior experience that I just needed to keep showing up and doing my best and, eventually, I would land on my feet.
The point is, just keep doing it. Don’t be afraid to try something you hadn’t thought of before. I believe that luck is nothing more than making yourself available for opportunity and recognizing opportunity when it is there. Take the leap.