Last week, I wrote about the topic of money because I believe it is so important toward running a successful business, social enterprise or non-profit. You can find the articles here and here. Over the last few days, I have had discussions with people who have approached me about my own challenges and I thought it would be a great opportunity to provide readers with my experience in case they are going through the some sort of obstacle.
I think, sometimes and for a variety of reasons, when someone has a thriving organization and becomes successful they may become a target. I founded and successfully grew within a few short years a non-profit from nothing to nearly $75 million. To put that into context, approximately 94% of United State non-profit organizations operate with less than $1 million.
While I was busy doing, I ended up being hounded by allegations. This does happen to people from all walks of life, especially public people like me. But, if you want to make a difference and be successful, you need to be able to deal with everyone, including those who may end up becoming your detractors.
In case you are curious, which I am very open to discuss because I have nothing to hide, is a claim that I received an inappropriate loan guaranty following the stock market collapse of 2008 that, in addition, was allegedly not reported.
As we all remember and know, the market was very volatile after the fall of Lehman Brothers and so many people were losing millions of dollars in a short period of time, including me. At the time, the organization’s CFO, lawyer, CPA and I agreed that a way to mitigate the loss was to preserve a small part of my portfolio into a fixed, over collateralized account. I was informed this was legal and appropriate under the circumstances. But, in an over-abundance of caution, we actually discussed this with the state’s attorney general.
However, the following year, with new counsel and experts, I was informed this was inappropriate, regardless of the fact that it was all recorded in IRS and state tax filings. Once this fact was brought to my attention, I immediately refinanced the loan and sold some of my personal assets to promptly provide the charity the balance owed.
At the time, the religion reporter at The Tennessean scrutinized these dealings, and since then, this story has continued to follow me in the new chapter of my life, years after I left the non-profit organization. However, if you want to read more about my challenges and my response to what you may find out on the internet, you can read it here.
Why am I talking about this again? I am talking about it for a variety of reasons. One is that as I build my new business, Wayne Elsey Enterprises, I want to make sure that I am transparent and communicating with my supporters and those who may not necessarily be fans. The other and more important reason is that I come across people like me who are entrepreneurs or leaders and I want to be an example to people demonstrating that, indeed, they can overcome any obstacle.
That is probably the biggest reason I am writing this post today. I have the opportunity every day to meet and talk to people who are looking to make a difference and change the world. And sometimes, people speak to me about their challenges with detractors and they don’t know how to move forward.
I want to be an example of the fact that when social entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders or business people have critics, they need to simply keep going. Find the opportunity to be able to tell their story, but keep focused on the goal and the goal is be successful with the work and enterprise.
Everything always sorts itself out. I am reminded of a great line from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be all right in the end…if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end”. So just keep going and doing what you need to do to make a difference and everything else will fall into place.