Category Archives: Miami

WIMS Client Spotlight Blanca

WIMS Client Spotlight: Blanca Commercial Real Estate

Blanca CRE is Florida’s leading independently owned commercial real estate services firm, known for customizing solutions that drive success for their clients while giving back generously to the community and industry they serve.

They deliver outstanding results for their clients by leveraging their superior market intelligence, data-driven research, carefully customized strategies, and excellence in service. Their differentiators –including a client-first approach and passion –have attributed to their phenomenal growth and continued success on behalf of their clients. When you look at their client list, it’s filled with some of the most elite companies operating in South Florida as well.

They are a full service firm that offers a complete spectrum of brokerage and advisory services related to landlord representation, tenant representation, property acquisition and disposition, and property management.

For more details on their service offerings you can click below:

They are a women owned business distinguished by the WBENC Certification, they are proud to be a woman-owned business that maximizes opportunities, builds innovative solutions, and drives results for their clients.

The market reports they regularly publish are second to none and offer a ton of insight surrounding the South Florida market. They also have an office planning tool that is helpful.

The Real Estate Branding Revolution - Creating an Immersive Experience WIMS Consulting

The Real Estate Branding Revolution – Creating an Immersive Experience

We have seen the benefits of storytelling and branding as a marketing tool to create an experience for companies and people in almost every industry. As of late, we have seen the real estate industry begin using branding and storytelling to create a lasting impression on people to invoke emotions and appeal to their aspirations. But what does this look like and how can it best be leveraged?

Sports teams, athletes, actors, and “influencers” hire marketers, agents, and consultants to carefully curate, promote, and monetize their personal brand to better connect with fans. Restaurants are leveraging their atmosphere/vibe, décor, and community involvement to appeal to customers just as much as they focus on the actual food and beverage offerings. So why not real estate too?

Traditionally, real estate has been a game of square footage, location, and expectation of appreciation to determine value. The best players in the real estate game look past these objective features and focus on the subjective needs of their target market.

This means taking into account, and optimizing, the impact you can have on someone by establishing a memorable experience that will leave them itching to revisit the property, envision themselves living, working, or owning it, and at the very least passing it on by referring it to others.

Many in the industry are now treating their buildings and spaces like they are their own company by creating a brand around the asset that helps to differentiate from competition. Developers, investors, and brokers are leveraging technology more than ever to showcase their properties. Commercial and industrial buildings are now building their own websites, social media, their own videos, and marketing, and much more. Apartments and multi-family buildings are too. Plus they’re integrating CRM systems into the day to day operations to close the loop on leads, prospects, and track referral sources.

Some are now adding virtual and augmented reality walk throughs to show off the amenities, highlight key features, and visualize the surrounding community and more as well. Tenants (and potential investors) can get an even deeper feel for what a space can offer without having to physically be present in the space.

Creating a story surrounding a space to develop a certain desirable atmosphere for people matters more than ever. You are no longer just selling square footage as much as you are selling the ability to solve their problems, meet their goals, and help add value to their life, business, or whatever the case may be.

Building a brand that people want to share is a powerful tool. Creating that reputation of being the place to be essentially markets your space for you. This could be through adding more amenities such as a pool, a gym, a lounge, a rooftop patio, an art gallery, anything to foster an ambiance of originality that can be shared with friends and colleagues. People remember what they have not experienced before, giving you an advantage over competitors if you can differentiate in this way.

All of this adds incredible valuable for commercial properties, office buildings, and apartment complexes. If you can create an immersive impression, it can have an effect like the movie “Inception” that lingers longer after they visit the website, do a walk through, view a brochure, or watch a video. That is when you know you nailed it and is what you should aspire to.

What other approaches are you seeing being used to help tell these stories and create these brands?

Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

Time and time again, we have witnessed corporate empires come crashing down. On a high from peak performance, many of these companies were resistant to change their historically successful practices with their “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” or “we’ve always done it this way” mindsets. The things that got them to the top eventually led to their downfall. Instead of proactively preparing for an inevitably changing environment, firms often find themselves behind the innovation curve because they have relied on their organizational inertia from past wins. 2020 was a year full of thrivers and survivors, but it looked a little different than other times of financial uncertainty.

Instead of a shifting of industries on the power curve like during the global financial crisis when electronics, utilities, and financial services fell off their historical peaks, we are instead seeing a further widening of the performance gap between industries. According to an article published in July by McKinsey & Company, the six most profitable industries have seen $275 billion a year added to their expected economic profit pool; the six least profitable industries have lost an estimated $373 billion. Companies that did well before the pandemic are proving to be resilient.

The thrivers have taken an adaptive and innovative approach to business and include the following industries: pharmaceuticals, software, technology hardware, and media. After releasing last quarter’s earnings, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” The survivors, many on the verge of bankruptcy, are not doing well. This is a trend that existed, but only proved to accelerate with the onset of COVID-19.

The fastest companies to adapt to the new norm have been and will continue to be the quickest winners taking advantage of opportunity during this crisis. Manufacturers of personal hygiene-related products are increasing production. An exponential increase in demand for pharmaceuticals has these companies reinventing their production processes as well. The potential of the telehealth industry is being realized as nearly half of all physicians are treating patients virtually, up from 18% in 2018. Automation through robotics has created an interesting angle for companies through the mere fact that robots cannot get sick like human employees. E-commerce companies have spent money on adapting infrastructure and capacity as they receive more of the traditional brick-and-mortar retail market. Tech-heavy firms have further adapted their ecosystems.

Even companies in traditionally slow-adapting industries have made changes. Restaurants have increased their delivery and take-out volumes, putting together special packages that entice customers to pick up. Multi-family, specifically apartment complexes, have gotten creative with their marketing to get leases signed. Universities have been pressured to express the importance of their value to not only current, but prospective students, as the online education market was already expected to triple in growth from 2015 to 2025. With interest rates reaching record lows, an increase in buyers and homeowners looking to refinance are shaping an attractive future for the real estate market. Implementation of new technology into these industries is paramount to the future of these firms.

These industries, high in reliance on the demand of consumers, also need to realize the importance of relationships with those who make them money, the customers. They can get the most out of their marketing by implementing CRM systems, such as Zoho or Salesforce, to methodically target and follow up with prospects. Businesses need to reallocate resources to parts of their business that have the most growth potential in the future.

To the companies that have waited for some clarity from the fallout of this pandemic, you need to realize that doing nothing is doing something (although we would not recommend that). Companies that move early in a crisis and get ahead of competition often maintain this lead for years. Lao Tzu is credited with saying, “The wise man is the one who knows what he does not know.” There is always room for improvement and no proven right answer as times are constantly changing. Without staying ahead of trends or at least educating yourself about them, your practices will soon be outdated.

It is clear given the current state of the world that changes need to be made to your business; do not waste any more time. Transformational leaders do not let a good crisis go to waste. What are you willing to do to take advantage of the pandemic’s opportunities?

If you need assistance, we have a variety of bundles to help you start a company, scale a company, or simply perfect your marketing and CRM implementation. Check out our 10K to 10X Video bundle, 10K to 10X 2020 bundle, 90 day MVP package, or reach out to WIMS Consulting to see how we can add value to your business.

Q4 2020 WIMS Consulting

Q4 2020: FINISH LIKE A SAVAGE & PREPARE FOR 2021 DOMINATION!

There’s something about Q4 that is always exhilarating to me. Knowing that “the game” is coming to an end, each and every play is more significant, there’s less margin for error. Perform well during this time and you can make up for a lot of previous mistakes and setbacks along the way. Let up or fumble the ball, and you can destroy all the momentum you made thus far. No pressure, right?

All of this is going on while simultaneously a new game is going to begin soon thereafter. Endings are always thrilling, but so are new beginnings after all. The new year coming up is especially enticing given the chaos of the current one. Whether it was a rough year, or an incredible one, you have to just keep looking forward and continue to get better.

Despite the hectic grind I’ve been on lately (pretty perpetual at this point), I wanted to take a little time to revisit and write up a quick/updated “Q4 Manifesto” which is mostly for myself, but then I decided to add a few extra tips for you too, primarily applicable to both your business and professional life.

  • Don’t wait for January 1st to start your New Year’s Resolutions, now’s as good a time as any. It’s a misguided practice that usually doesn’t end well anyway. You don’t need an arbitrary start date to work on self-improvement, that should be a daily practice as it is. Why not start right now?
  • Get AGGRESSIVE – Close out ALL of those pending dream deals that have been lingering. Do much more outreach and lead generation. Don’t dwell on whether you’re annoying people or assume that they already have an expert helping them that does what you do. Push harder!
  • Think about and plan out ways you can continue to streamline your business & professional operations. This can include CRM, automations, revisiting your tech stack, delegating more tasks, etc.
  • Try not to eat and drink everything in sight just because it’s the holidays. Maintain (or in some cases start) your workout routine consistently and only indulge occasionally. It’s especially tough given all the parties and networking events, but some balance now will spare you later.
  • Enjoy time with my family and friends and BE PRESENT. Don’t spend that precious time distracted with your head in the clouds and worrying about things that are out of your control.
  • Debrief/Reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t, what do you need to improve upon? Lay it all out objectively and identify opportunities to get better. While this may seem obvious, it’s crucial.
  • Strategize for 2021 (and beyond) now. Spend an appropriate amount of time writing out specific goals, sketching out project plans, and dreaming big. From there be mindful, thoughtful, deliberate, and thorough enough to also make your plan realistic while still stretching yourself. Once this exercise is completed, start working on implementing that strategy ASAP to carry some momentum with you.
  • Add appointments to your 2021 calendar (monthly/quarterly, etc.) now to make sure you schedule the time to reflect on your progress and measure where you’re at along the way to ensure you continuously improve.

A few specifically for you:

  • Get and implement a CRM already! Seriously, how many times do I have to say it? If you need to spend some time asking a few questions on how to get started, reach out to me, that part is, and always will be, on the house.
  • Start a blog, a podcastvideo/webinar series, whatever. Leverage content marketing to develop and enhance your brand and get your business’ name out there.
  • Finally start that business you’ve been day dreaming about for years now.
  • Or at least start working on that side hustle you’ve been planning.
  • Identify an organization you’re interested in and get involved in the community. This could be philanthropic or civic, doesn’t matter as much as simply taking action and giving back.

There are plenty of others I’m forgetting. And I will likely revisit this some more over the next few months to continue tweaking it.

What are some of your Q4 goals? What about your 2021 goals? How can we help you achieve them? Please let me know, would love to hear from you!

Enterprise Level Salesforce.com CRM

Enterprise Level Salesforce.com CRM Implementations for Mid-Large Companies

My firm, WIMS Consulting, has been providing CRM implementation services since its inception (and personally I’ve been leading them for 15 years now). We have been platform agnostic (we work with all of the primary platforms, including Salesforce.com, Zoho, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others); however, the firm has recently taken measures to beef up it’s partnerships and team in order to deepen its focus on delivering more large scale enterprise level Salesforce.com projects.

We have helped many companies of all sizes with their CRM implementations (from startups to enterprise level), particularly leveraging Salesforce.com and Zoho, and we will continue to do so. But the massive shift in approach that mid to large-scale companies were forced to adopt throughout 2020 really highlighted operational challenges, issues that a well-functioning Salesforce program would do wonders to mitigate.

When properly implemented, Salesforce will have an incredible impact on sales and marketing, operations, communication (internal and external), automation, and so much more. You can take one look at their stock performance and see how much value they provide to their clients.

Not only are we aiming to build out Salesforce programs from scratch, we are also highly capable of jumping into existing iterations that have gone a bit off course and helping to right the ship. Or we can come in after the initial phase or two and help your company supercharge it to take the functionality to the next level.

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now, yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. 2020 was the year that changed this. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

One of the most important features, especially right now, is that Salesforce helps you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing Salesforce can be a significant commitment initially, if your company does it right (which engaging us significantly increases your odds of that), the benefit to your business is invaluable. With 2020 in the past, now is the perfect time to start planning and conducting your due diligence to start 2021 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

3 Ways Restaurants and Breweries Can Boost Marketing During COVID-19

3 Ways Restaurants and Breweries Can Boost Marketing During COVID-19

The restaurant and brewery industries are ones that COVID-19 has hit hardest as customers have literally been ordered to stay away from these establishments for months now. However, this does not mean that it is impossible to find ways to profit. Here are 3 ways to boost your restaurant and brewery marketing during COVID-19.

Update Your Online Assets

Your customers still want to eat your food and by now, they are most likely tired of cooking from home. They’re wondering whether you’re open and how they might benefit from one of your meals. Let your audience know how they can order from you by updating the following assets:

  • Website
  • Social media platforms
  • Google My Business

We have seen various methods of still serving customers, including curbside pickup, carryout, and home delivery. Update your website so it’s immediately clear that you’re open and offering one of these solutions. Provide your new hours and any specials that may be offered to help families in need during the pandemic.

Social media accounts can help highlight any new specials that you may be offering. Provide encouraging stories that point followers to the easiest way to get your food. In the “About” tab, make sure to reflect these added specials, new hours, and delivery methods.

Update these same changes on your Google My Business page so anyone looking you up online or in Google Maps discovers your new ways of doing business.

Be Empathetic About COVID-19

You know where every single one of your customers is right now. You know what each person is thinking because you are going through the same thing. You understand their fears and concerns about the future. Provide them empathy and comfort by personifying your business as much more than a business, but as people too. Marketing is not simply advertising; it is sharing your story with customers about why you are a business they should align themselves with.

You may fear that you’re taking advantage of a negative situation, but if you show value, customers will come. If you do it correctly, then you can become a shining light of hope for you customers.

Help customers understand that it’s acceptable to celebrate even during a pandemic. They simply should do so safely by social distancing. Help them understand that you’re here to provide comfort food and celebratory food to brighten their day a bit.

Offer Something Other Than Food & Beverages

We already know that margins are small in the food and beverage, so focus efforts on developing other avenues for revenue. Get creative and ask yourself what else you can offer. For example, how can you use gift cards or merchandise to increase overall profit during COVID-19?

Offer incentives for customers to purchase gift cards to give away to friends and family. It helps increase your revenue immediately and gets more awareness into the community that you’re open for business. In addition to giftcards, you can sell merchandise via an online store on your website.

There’s no need to see your restaurant or brewery suffer during COVID-19 if you get creative and proactive about your marketing. Don’t go on the defensive. Get on offense and become an inspiration for your local community.  

Private Investment Funds in 2021: Focus on Optimizing & Streamlining Existing Portfolio Company Investments to Grow amid Volatility

The whirlwind of 2020 rattled businesses across the country, and it was no different for the private investment/fund industries. Even prior to last year, trends were moving toward funds (private equity, venture capital, family office, etc.) establishing platforms that focused on a suite of key business functions, such as business development, marketing, finance, PR, etc. to assist their portfolio companies with scaling their operations. Some funds have stood up internally1, while others have engaged external strategic partnerships.

In the first half of 2020, a slowdown in new deals was caused partly by valuation discrepancies between buyers and sellers, resulting in a 63% decrease in activity in the Americas region2 after the onset of COVID-19. According to a PitchBook report, U.S. private equity exits dropped by 70% (1st 6 months of 2020 compared to year-ago period) because private equity firms marked down portfolio companies; they chose to hold investments rather than sell them3. Although this may sound alarming, a study by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson showed that despite a drop in exit transactions in the first half of 2020, there is little evidence of forced exits at least3. Furthermore, private equity firms raised $348 billion in the same time frame, which is only 10% shy of what they raised during the first half of 20192.

If funds have the capital raised but are not deploying it because of the risk of an unfavorable valuation or investment, the question must be raised: what have they been doing in the meantime?

In addition to simply boosting investments for current portfolio companies, funds are increasing aid in the strategic side of these businesses as well. “Increasing returns during ongoing fiscal and geopolitical uncertainty pushed top executives from PE firms to maintain focus on value and digitalization, and a commitment to developing the organizational and business models of their portfolio companies.”4 Many funds have turned to delegating these duties to outside firms.

Outsourcing operations, sales, marketing, and other core functions provides a new perspective for funds. With another set of eyes on current investments, funds can squeeze every penny of revenue out of their portfolio companies to boost chances of success. Outsourcing allows current portfolio companies access to the same professional team as their fund, which consolidates consultants, agencies, people, and expenses for a more efficient operation filtered through a single entity.

Furthermore, with investment funds specializing to extreme degrees these days1, funds can focus on what they have specialized in, while letting the collaborative agency facilitate other aspects of the business. This allows them to keep the main thing the main thing so they can keep investors happy and informed, as well as assist their portfolio companies with more high value activities.

Not only does outsourcing provide more expertise with experienced professionals, but it tends to cost less than hiring someone within the fund or directly at the portfolio companies to manage these responsibilities. VC start-ups are staying private for an average of eight years longer than they would have back in 2000. It only makes sense to provide them with an experienced team for business development, marketing, and more. Without a team, the firm must manage all of this themselves or, for example, hire a business development manager. The average venture capital business development manager salary is nearly $80,000, not to mention additional benefits and expenses. Eight additional years of paying this salary (not including escalators and other contractual advancements) raises that investment to $640,000 allocated towards one person, when a team of experts can be hired to do an even better job.

Over the last decade, the appeal of going public has decreased as companies do not want to deal with inevitable scrutiny after releasing financials and other information. There has actually even been a shift of public companies switching back to private, with 8 out of 10 of the largest buyouts being Public 2 Private (P2P)4. Many companies would rather stay private, or be bought out through M&A, than to receive heat from the public. If a start-up does not go public, having that business development manager can continue as a growing yearly expense (regardless of value), even if the business isn’t in a growth or blitzscaling stage. Similar to the recession from a decade ago, companies are thinning out and hiring more contractors because it is a more manageable and flexible commitment.

Further along this line, “We are starting to see some changes that may signal a strategy shift by private equity to help struggling portfolio companies amid the crisis. Additional stake purchases by private equity investors are up by count and volume compared to same period last year and second- and third-round funding’s are also up from last year. Both are ways to inject cash into companies that need it most now.”5

In volatile times, more of the focus should be on what can be controlled. “Leaders should identify digital innovations such as business intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning, and business processes automation to help companies evolve and gain the skills needed for better performance and outpacing the competitors.”4

While not every business model is 100% perfect, and there are pros and cons to each, there are certainly many advantages both financially and operationally to leveraging a consulting firm to assist funds and their portfolio companies with scaling. Regardless of whether the macro environment is volatile and capital is tougher to come by, or when conditions are great and capital is flowing freely, running a tight ship focused on streamlining, growth, and ROI will always be in style and appreciated.

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs

References:

1) https://tomtunguz.com/is-venture-capital-worth-the-risk/

2) https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b1mqkqqx3g0k5v/Private-Equity-s-Answer-to-a-Frozen-Deal-Market

3) https://www.pionline.com/private-equity/private-equity-deals-tumble-20-2020s-first-half-pitchbook

4) https://bspeclub.com/2020/04/17/private-equity-2020-outlook-the-start-of-a-new-decade/

5) https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bloomberg-law-analysis/analysis-how-is-private-equity-optimizing-the-downturn

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.
WIMS Client Spotlight The Branded Company

WIMS Client Spotlight: The Branded Company

THEBRANDEDCOMPANY, a collective for clean, is on a mission to keep you safe so you can tell your story. THEBRANDEDCOMPANY was founded in response to an emergency request from one of the largest delivery and logistics companies in the world at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since their launch, THEBRANDEDCOMPANY has helped numerous global brands secure affordable and high-quality protective cloth masks as well as other branded and unbranded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Comfortable, effective, and support for up to 12 color printing, thebrandedmask™ is trusted by many of the world’s most recognizable companies. They also just recently launched thebrandedmask™ v2 with adjustable ear straps and nose bridge.

THEBRANDEDCOMPANY also believes in sustainable sourcing. They work around the clock to responsibly source the highest-quality materials that are handcrafted in their various facilities across the globe. They are committed to having a consistent product and a reliable supply chain.

Their products include:

  • thebrandedmask™
  • thebrandedsanitizer
  • thebrandedwipe
  • thebrandedbag – a customizable & portable safety kit
  • Nitrile, Vinyl & HDPE Gloves
  • Surgical 3 ply masks
  • Thermometers

Check out their website for information on getting branded personal protective equipment for your company!

Equity Crowdfunding Collaboration

WIMS Consulting has a collaboration to assist startups and well-established businesses with launching their equity crowdfunding campaigns. We partner with The Arora Project and Striders Group (the team that brings you DiscoverCLT and more, further details about each below) to deliver this unique offering.  Not only will we help with the financial compliance component, but with the marketing, CRM, and PR as well to super charge your campaign’s effectiveness.

While we will assist companies across the USA, we are initially focused on Charlotte and Miami. The collaboration will assist with traditional crowdfunding campaigns as well. This initiative is designed as an ancillary and related focus to the WIMS Consulting Fund service line which supports private equity, venture capital, and family office funds with their own firms as well as their portfolio companies’.

For some additional background and context on the experts we’re working with:

Krishan Arora, CEO of The Arora Project published the article below in Forbes that goes into depth about the nuances and what is required. This is required reading as the starting point for those interested in potentially pursuing this approach to growing your business.

“Equity Crowdfunding Will Revolutionize Fundraising For Startups”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/06/08/equity-crowdfunding-will-revolutionize-fundraising-for-startups/#3849fd8cc433

“The Arora Project began in 2016 as a full-service crowdfunding campaign management agency, helping creators globally raise over $75 Million in funding. Today we maintain our expertise in crowdfunding as well as offer a wide array of digital marketing solutions to innovative companies looking to launch the next big idea. The pride and passion we have for our projects has resulted in an exceptional service that you won’t find anywhere else.”

Striders Group provides, “marketing services that help you stand out from the crowd. With over 10 years of experience, we help businesses create their brand presence and achieve their goals. Our process is designed to empower your brand and outfit your business with the marketing tools needed to succeed.”

If you’re interested in learning more and/or setting up a discussion about whether your company would be a good candidate please reach out!

A Time of Transition By Evan Shirreffs

A Time of Transition – It’s OK to Take a Break

There is a reason the United States has the largest economy in the world. We work harder than anyone. There is also a reason we have a mental health crisis that is affecting 1 in 5 adults, nearly 50 million people. One of the contributors is our results-oriented society. Instead of falling in love with how things are done, we fall in love with simply getting things done. Whether it’s studying for a test or reaching a quota set by an employer, the satisfaction is short-lived for the amount of stress put into reaching the end goal. It wears us down because school and work gradually become viewed as a task instead of an opportunity. We look to the future for happiness and build these elaborate plans for our lives that become less realistic as time passes. We work towards a certain degree or job because we expect it to yield a favorable outcome that will in turn make our lives better. What we do not realize is that in doing so, our jobs become our lives. Why then would I even consider following a career path that is destined to become my life if the work involved isn’t something I am prepared to mold my life around?

In December, two major seasons of my life came to an end: school and my football career. Both dominated my life since I was a child, which left me wondering what might fill their voids on my list of priorities. Throughout our schooling and upbringing, we are taught that there is usually one proper way to do things. For me, this would mean searching for and starting a job as soon as possible to guarantee there would be no gaps on my resume and a steady stream of income to begin my business career. At the time, rushing into a job just didn’t feel right.

The truth is, all I was worried about for the last few years was training for football and completing my MBA program. I had no plan for how I would even apply my MBA to a career; I simply knew that having another degree would add to my value in the eyes of potential employers. Many people advised me to secure a job before finishing school. Ironically, much of this advice was coming from people who currently hated their jobs, so why would I listen to them? I was burned out from college football and knew that if I started a job in January, I would work myself into the ground. With employers pressuring me to start work following graduation without any real knowledge of what any of the jobs might entail, I felt a bit trapped.

Instead of accepting a position just to have a job, I decided to buy a one-way ticket halfway across the world. Australia would be my home for the next few months. I worked cash jobs for spending money and stayed in hostels with 10 different people every night. My 15-pound youth backpack was my only companion as I hopped on greyhound buses to get from place to place. For the majority of my life, I had planned my next move before finishing my last, so living day-to-day with no solid plan was a completely foreign idea to me. My world was turned upside down.

I soon found that I had no place in the hierarchy of society. I was no longer a football player or a grad student. I had no standards or expectations established for me by other people, meaning that there was no end result to work towards. I was simply a kid from America trying to find his way. There was something freeing in that.

Don’t get me wrong, it was tough. The time had finally come to think about past experiences, relationships, and mistakes I had made. It was a time of reflection that was long overdue. With everything I had been through over the years, I had bottled up a lot of issues because I just didn’t have the time to deal with them. Looking at myself in the mirror and truly analyzing my actions helped me discover a lot about myself.

Not only did I get to experience life on my own, but I got to hear about other travelers’ stories. I met people from all over the world: New Zealand, Ecuador, the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, the list goes on. I found that Germans are serious in all aspects of life until they’ve had a few beers. Canadians are in fact the kindest, most agreeable people on this Earth. Australians love life because they don’t spend it indoors aimlessly scrolling through social media; instead, they explore and try new things. Through comparing my experiences and upbringing to others’, I realized that there is no perfect way to do things. There are endless solutions to every problem, it is just our choice to figure out which solution best answers the problem for our specific needs.

Sometimes you have to take a few steps back before a huge leap forward. Whether it is from high school to college, college to a job, or one job to another one, we are wired to rush from opportunity to opportunity without even batting an eye. We refrain from taking time off for no reason other than to save face when people ask us what we are up to. I was a bum for two months and I needed that. I needed to learn how to live on my own and appreciate the blessings I had taken for granted my whole life. Maybe travelling isn’t your thing. Maybe you’d prefer hiking or art or music or reading. Take some time to get out into the world and live on your own terms between these monumental seasons of life. Make those memories for yourself so your only stories for your grandkids aren’t about the time you watched an incredible video that someone else made while you sat on your couch. I’m not promising that this will cure everything you are going through, but I will say that it was a step towards finding joy in my life. It worked for me to clear my mind, realign my priorities, and reignite the passion for my dreams that every worry-free kid is born with. Go be a kid!