Broken promises

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

Ernest Hemingway

How I learnt to see the state of humanity.

Broken promises – Part 1

Unfortunately, I met the wrong person. Instead of the honorable coach I needed, I ended up with someone who didn’t follow up on commitments made, causing a whole lot of problems.

Early 2012, after my 6 months of coaching, my business angel decided he didn’t want to follow through on the staged funding, leaving our company with less than a month liquidity.

Overnight I turned into Greece.

Without an external solution, I would not be able to pay for the wages of my team members over the next months. The cash I had planned in my financial plan wasn’t there. I had two options: go legal on my business angel, effectively crashing my company, or move forward.

I chose the latter. In less than 3 months I arranged a capital raise and brokered a deal with our bank for the entire amount of the business angel agreement. We were back afloat financially.

Broken promises – Part 2

The commercial part of the business angel deal caused trouble as well. We had agreed that one specific type of activities would come our way. Instead we received requests for a totally different type of activities.

This left us with a big operational problem: we had team members almost being idle and others who were overstreched.

Presenting this issue multiple times to my business angel and one of his managers, they assured me that this was going to be solved and we could expect multiple development projects in the coming 6 months.

The initial 3 months didn’t bring anything, forcing me to focus on internal projects instead and start restructuring the development team. I didn’t want to lay off anybody just yet as end 2012 they reiterated their commitment and other clients brought some projects.

I was wary but I decided to go with them for one last time. In our yearly team meeting, I fiercly defended holding the small development team we had. I knew if they didn’t follow through, I would have to find a solution for the team.

“The Force – My team”

When starting and growing a company, the support from your team is crucial.

After all, as an entrepreneur you are the one taking all the risks. In my particular case, my aspiration was even bigger. My goal was to protect the playfulness of youth, something which I had seen dwindling in corporate environments, while ensuring business was thriving.

To do so, I needed a team that wanted to go the extra mile and that understood fun should be accompanied by results. A team that was willing to fight for each other and trust each other. That’s how I operated and how I expected other team members to function as well.

I thought I was proven right with one of my best friends who joined early on: unconditional trust. It was a cornerstone to how I saw and still see working together. No work/life, just life. That would be the guiding example to other team members.

Unfortunately, what I believed in was more difficult to support than expected.

I was forced to draw a conclusion which at the time was probably one of the biggest dissapointments in my life: my generation and the one behind me isn’t different at all from the others. I thought our perspective on life was more mature, but my experiences had shown me differently.

Some examples?

What to think about a team member, in his early thirties, who refused to work for a client because he felt insulted? What about two team members shouting and publically crying in the office, needing me to have them talk each other like two decent human beings?

What about a team member proposed to taking up responsibilities himself just to drop them because he didn’t feel like it any more or someone refusing to answer a mail to another colleague because she didn’t “like” him.

The mindboggling part? I all knew them individually as wonderfully talented people whom I respected and genuinely cared for. It brought me a question that has inspired me ever since: “why do people do what they do?”

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