I’m a big believer in the idea that hardship builds character. I also think that challenges can get the best of us, and sometimes we tend to fixate on why something is happening instead of what we can do about it.
If you’re smart, you’ll emerge from every complication having learned something about yourself. But of even more value to you will be what you learn about the people you choose to surround yourself with.
Just over seven years ago, I was appointed CEO of Roma Moulding. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was unhappy with what I had, because it wasn’t what I wanted – not for my future self, the future of this company or its people. So I decided to change things.
The only way to accomplish this was by spending less time dwelling on all the things that didn’t work, and focusing my passion and energy on what would. I decided that this transformation could only be done one way – from the inside out. I mean that literally and figuratively. From coming into the office and tearing down actual walls so that people felt free to communicate with each other, to making sure my employees saw me as an approachable equal by seating myself in their midst instead of a corner office – I was more than determined to define Roma Moulding as an inclusive and transparent place to work that wanted its people to be happy at work.
I wanted to build a business that understood the foundation of success: that a product is only as good as the people behind it.
Fast forward to today, where we live and breathe that mission. It’s in the way we connect with our customers, partners and each other. It’s in our passion for innovation and our genuine desire to grow together. Mostly, it’s in our deep sense of camaraderie, which I’ve come to learn more about these last couple of days.
Last week, Roma Moulding was faced with what I would say has probably been one of our greatest challenges to date. We were hacked – faced with a cyber attack that essentially crippled our business and made it nearly impossible for us to function.
We were at a loss.
No internet, no phone, no email access. Valuable work that my team had poured themselves into was at risk of being lost forever, and our customers and partners didn’t have their usual access to us. As we scrambled to remain calm and collected, all hands were on deck and our team came together without the slightest bit of hesitation.
People were offering to learn new skills so that they could help each other, spending long hours at the office, even staying the night so that we could get through this security breach, all the while maintaining stellar customer service. Even more, our partners were in support of us, cheering us on as we did our very best to get back to business.
And all of it was voluntary.
No one was asked to stay back or make this a priority. People wanted to help. It was just that simple.
If I close my eyes and recall the chaos, the one thing I remember feeling the most is this absolute sense of fulfillment. Knowing that these are the people I choose to surround myself with – not just to work with, but to grow, play, laugh, share, cry, accept defeat and celebrate successes with. These are the people I choose to learn from. I was honoured. I was humbled.
I thought back to all of the change we’ve experienced in the last few years, and how it was all leading to this moment. Every office adjustment, every interview and new hire, every sale won or lost and every team meeting. It all led to this very important accomplishment of bringing together a caliber of people that make me feel like the luckiest CEO ever.
“Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.”
– Richard Branson
The decisions you make in times of crisis will always teach you something about yourself, but the decisions made by those around you when you’re in the thick of it will define your choices. Have you chosen the right people to surround yourself with? Because those are the people you are trusting with your future, your success.
In other words, if your building was on fire, who’s coming back in to get you?
Whoever it is, you chose them.