Gratitude by Blake Hawley

February 27, 2016

Sometime late last year a friend posted an article on Facebook about gratitude. As it was based on some science and research, I read it. Basically, it said that being grateful makes you happier. I thought that was pretty intriguing, so I tried it. I actually did a sort of daily affirmation (not Stuart Smally stuff) of the things I was grateful for: things like my family, great friends, a new start-up company I love, big things like that. It seemed to work after a while and I did feel just happier.

In January of this year I was accepted into an entrepreneurial program called Pipeline, and to be honest, I was desperate to get in. I knew it was very selective, so that competitive part of me was naturally enticed, but from the first moment I heard founder and CEO Joni Cobb talk about it, I knew it was something really special.

This week I finished the first module, and quite frankly, I am exhausted. My head hurts a little from the intense focus, the work, the presentations, the homework, the feedback. I suspect the 12 other Fellows who joined me on this journey probably feel the same. But mostly, I feel grateful.

Being an entrepreneur can have some intensely lonely, scary, exhilarating, worrying, and tense moments. Most entrepreneurs don’t plan for these emotions when they take that ‘leap of faith’ into this world, but most, if not all, certainly do experience them. One of the well documented challenges of being an entrepreneur is that these are the things you can’t really talk about. You certainly don’t want your investors thinking you’re terrified of failing, nor your spouse, who you’ve convinced that “this is going to be the best thing I’ve ever done,” and neither your employees, if you have them, who also put in more than their fair share of sweat and tears.

During this module I became part of the Pipeline Entrepreneur family. It might sound hokey, but I felt it happen. Surrounded by 12 smart, funny, dynamic colleagues with brilliant businesses who are part of my class, we came together to support one another, challenge and critique and generally just try to make each of us, and our businesses, the best they could be. I’m grateful for them. I know this week was the beginning of lifelong friendships.

There is more though. They assign Member Buddies who are available to help you as well. These are people who have gone through one of the 9 classes that preceded ours. They are resources to help entrepreneurs with the Pipeline process itself, as I already indicated, pretty darn intense, but they help with all sorts of things. The funny thing is, these are entrepreneurs themselves, founders and CEOs of growing or successful businesses, generally in fields that surround yours. A lot of thinking goes into matching us. Did I mention there is no cost to be in Pipeline? These Member Buddies aren’t paid and they don’t want anything-except to help. If it’s starting to feel a bit cult-like, it is, and it isn’t. It is a group of passionate entrepreneurs and people deeply passionate about entrepreneurialism, but it isn’t in that there’s no blind following, in everything, there is though, purpose and focus. Just like a business should be actually. We’ve only met a few times, but they’ve already helped me with a few meetings, and their clear support. My family grows and I’m pretty grateful for them already.

I’m still not done though. I have a Network Mentor. She runs strategy for a Fortune 100 company. She met with me on Sunday to learn about me and my business and how she could help me. What? I’m serious. She answers emails. She offered extraordinary advice in our first meeting. Did I mention Pipeline doesn’t take equity for all this help? And she’s been a mentor for someone in almost every class. She gives of herself, her time, and even if she did offer consulting, I couldn’t afford her. She has made offers to do introductions to more brilliant people. She’s a part of my family, and I’m grateful.

Still, there’s more. There are National Advisors. These people are bastions of industry, they’re successful entrepreneurs who have started, sold and run multiple companies, they run VCs, they teach at prominent universities and they give of their time to teach us, facilitate workshops, have one-on one time, and they don’t ask anything in return. I’ve only met a few so far, but the time and energy they gave this week was astounding. For them, too, I am grateful.

Pipeline Entrepreneur Fellowship is a giving organization, a 501c-3 non-profit with a generous grant from the Kauffman Foundation, but run by and full of astonishingly talented and passionate people who give their time, energy and yes, money too, to help entrepreneurs like me. If you care to learn more about them, visit www.pipelineentrepreneurs.com. I’d be grateful.