The Fire That Saved Me US$100,000
It was an early September morning, and I was just getting to sleep. After weeks of my company’s busiest season in our history, I was a few hours away from a much-needed vacation. Like any other morning, my iPhone chimed repeatedly as I lay in bed. Unlike other mornings, the calls were coming from the Loveland Fire Department— they were calling to tell me that my office had caught fire!
I immediately drove to the office to see the damage. My team was safe and the damage was minimal. In fact, the sprinklers did more damage than the fire, but we were officially out of an office and a location to do business. Looking back, this fire taught me some valuable lessons:
The glass is always half full. When I walked into the office and saw the smoke-covered walls, I thought, “Awesome! We’re getting new paint!” I saw the water-logged reports and thought, “Great! We needed to file those anyway.” I saw our sales and production white boards and thought, “I’m glad those didn’t get wiped out! It’s high time we get everything online.” We noticed where we were weak, and that wouldn’t have happened were it not for the fire.
Plan for the worst and always consider the “what ifs.” We had planned for a fire and made the necessary investments to protect ourselves. Months before, our insurance agent said, “Hey Matt, what if this office burns to the ground? Are you covered?”
We weren’t, so he immediately took me through the list of insurances and property inventories, and put a policy into effect. I was also convinced under the premise of “what if” to buy a video-surveillance system. That surveillance video was there at the spark to trace the fire back to its cause, saving us from speculation and assisting the fire department in their investigation.
We had the chance to witness what our team is made of. During a trying time like this, the best and worst in people come out. I can honestly say that I saw what each and every team member was made of in their core, and I was impressed. I saw who is with us and who isn’t, and was able to trim the fat and make us a leaner, meaner organization.
I am thankful for the fire. EO has taught me to choose gratefulness in a time of crisis. I am thankful that no one was hurt, and for the advancements that have come as a result. I am also thankful for the US$100,000 I believe we’ll make next year as a result of the changes we made.
The days and weeks following the fire would have been colored by the remnant cloud of that fire had it not been for EO, its members, my Forum and the speakers I’ve met over the years. Because of EO, the fire had a purifying effect on us, and we’ve come out even stronger. Looking back, the fire taught me the value of my peers at work and in EO, and how a crisis can create much-needed change.
Matt Shoup is the president of M & E Painting and Shoup Consulting. Fun fact: Matt’s most embarrassing moment as an entrepreneur was not when his company painted the wrong house (which they did), but when they accidentally painted a 9-month-old baby. E-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.