Burdens of a Dream
Gresham Financial Book Club
Welcome to the Gresham Financial Book Club! In this blog series, we’ll cover the books that were instrumental to me when starting my business — and many of them have nothing to do with accounting.
Whether it’s growing your business, improving your health or making smarter financial decisions, these books can help you live and work better. They shaped my personal and professional philosophies, and I think you’ll find the lessons as valuable as I did.
Our first book is “Burdens of a Dream” by Craig M. Chavis, Jr. In this post, I’ll share my favorite chapters of this book and what impacted me the most. Then, we’re lucky to have the author himself share his intentions and impressions behind the book and the way I experienced it.
To join the Book Club, read and share your thoughts with us on social media (@GreshamFinance)!
Fifteen minutes a day can change your life
“Burdens of a Dream” offers insights for becoming a more creative entrepreneur through 33 life lessons gleaned from the author's personal journey. He shares his ups and downs in becoming a businessman that anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations can benefit from.
Like most of you current or aspiring entrepreneurs, I’m a busy guy; between serving my clients and managing the day-to-day of running a business, I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like. However, I make sure to dedicate 15 minutes each morning to reading — and one thing I like about Craig’s book is that in that time frame, I can make it through multiple chapters. It’s an incredibly inspirational way to start or end your day.
I like Craig’s writing style because it’s clear and to-the-point, so you can easily digest his meaning without having to chew on it for too long. It’s also broken up into episodic content; each chapter has its own lesson, but also contributes to the larger vision of the book. In just a few minutes each day, you can learn Craig’s powerful lessons to help change the way you live and work.
Collaboration is key to success
One of my favorite chapters is chapter eight: “Collaborate and Elevate.” The takeaway of this chapter is an incredibly important one, with implications that go beyond business. While entrepreneurs have a natural inclination to go it alone, collaboration is what truly makes you unstoppable. The independent, self-starting mindset can certainly help you drive forward in your business, but working with others produces results far beyond what most of us can accomplish on our own — and it’s a lot easier than trying to do everything yourself.
This chapter really resonated with me, since collaboration is at the heart of our mission at Gresham Financial. We not only work with our clients to improve their financial standing and plan for the future, but our team also collaborates with each other — whether it’s to serve clients, execute marketing campaigns or improve operations.
I personally found that the greatest growth happened when I was able to build my sole proprietorship into a team, bringing together other talented professionals who each brought their own unique skills and backgrounds to the table.
As Craig notes in his book: “I saw firsthand how working together with others fosters innovation, expedites personal development and brings access to new opportunities.”
Craig does a great job illustrating his own experience with collaboration through the story of starting his own distillery in Peru. As his story demonstrates, a creative entrepreneur recognizes the value of bringing together people with various skill sets, connections and personalities to work toward a common goal. Most importantly, however, they know their limitations and aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone — asking for help when needed and learning from others along the way.
Don’t be afraid to F.A.I.L.
Chapter 31, “F.A.I.L.” (or First Attempt In Learning), is another favorite of mine. As this chapter describes, what we commonly see as “failures” are really just opportunities for growth. Everyone makes mistakes, especially in the early days of starting a business. Not only can these serve as valuable learning experiences, they can pave the way for even better opportunities.
I certainly related to this theme, as I’m sure most entrepreneurs can. Getting a business up and running often involves periods of struggle, and mine was no exception. I’ve witnessed both my own and my clients’ businesses experiencing small failures on the way to growth that felt crippling at the time, but ultimately led to greater success. Even large failures can be overcome; if you can learn, adapt and grow, you can come back twice as strong.
In fact, one of my biggest “failures” ended up shaping the way I run my business for the better. I started my firm with a fully remote team, and this worked well — but when we began accelerating in revenue, I worried that the distance would be a drawback, and soon moved us all into a physical office. With how fast we were growing, I thought we would never have an empty desk. But as it turned out, we expanded too quickly, and the office arrangement simply didn’t work for our team. Morale dropped, we lost team members and I didn’t enjoy going to work at my own firm anymore.
In response, I made the difficult decision to shut down the office for six months, then to relaunch as a fully remote team once again. While at the time, this felt like a huge failure, it was actually one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my career: that operating as a brick-and-mortar doesn’t work for our business model, and having a team that works independently is a strength, not a limitation. We do our best work when everyone can operate with autonomy, yet leverage technology to collaborate effectively from wherever they are.
As Craig explains, this is what creative entrepreneurs do: They take setbacks as opportunities for growth, looking at where things went wrong and coming up with inspired solutions that capitalize on strengths and avoid learned pitfalls.
Craig conveys his personal experience with failure through the challenges he experienced with contracts and the Peruvian government when building his distillery. Similar to my story, enough was going well for Craig in the early days of his business that he didn’t see the warning signs until it was too late.
Ultimately, he had to close his distillery, which could have been seen as a crushing blow. However, Craig successfully transitioned that experience of “failure” into other, even more successful business ventures — including his creative agency, where he leverages his book and online coaching program to help clients successfully transition into full-time entrepreneurship.
So what happened to his distillery? Craig leaves the story unfinished, which to me is the perfect ending. He still has a vision for getting the company off the ground, and now he is armed with so much more knowledge and experience than before.
That’s part of what makes this book so impactful: As an entrepreneur, your story is never finished being told, and you can always go back and rewrite the parts that didn’t work the first time. But don’t take my word for it; let’s hear from the author himself about what drove him to write this book, what he learned and what he hopes readers take away.
From the Author
We are living in fascinating times; due to the coronavirus, millions of people have unexpectedly arrived at a personal and/or professional crossroads in their life. Those who have been affected are looking for hope, knowledge and a creative spark that will inspire them to get back on track.
I, too, have experienced similar hardships; after leaving the United States to serve in the Peace Corps, I started a distillery in Peru and abruptly lost it all. Those events would have crippled most people — but I eventually learned from my mistakes, captured my memories on paper and wrote my memoir.
As a business coach, my personal mission is to help 1 million people become the entrepreneurs of their own lives. This journey of entrepreneurship is an arduous process, and most people give up before they cross the finish line.
Staying the course is not an easy task, but if you’re willing to do things such as collaborating and elevating others and learning from your failures, then you are better equipped to accomplish your goals. Remember, life is an ever-evolving experience — but you should never be afraid to answer your calling to abandon the status quo, follow the road not taken and discover the person you’re truly meant to become.
Craig M. Chavis Jr. is a business coach on a mission to help 1 million people become the entrepreneurs of their lives. He is a serial entrepreneur, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, former division-1 collegiate athlete, and received his BSBA from Samford University and MBA from the University of Tampa. Craig is also a super foodie, world traveler, and lifelong learner.
Craig currently resides in Columbus, OH and can be contacted via phone, email or online at:
Isaiah Gresham | 05/01/2020