Note from our founder:  Thanks to Col (ret) Jeff Vandenbussche, the newest member of the Zenith team, for this post.  Jeff is doing amazing work on a variety of projects for Zenith Advisors Group clients!  Jeff’s post, originally on his LinkedIn profile, follows…

After nearly twenty-six years in uniform, serving all over the world, I recently joined the civilian ranks, and am now one month into the “next chapter of my life.”  I uprooted my family once again as we made our final military move and settled in just north of Colorado Springs. Following the advice of some good mentors, I am busy getting to know the area and establishing contacts. One person I recently met, Bruce McClintock, CEO and founder of Zenith Advisors Group, offered to help me get connected to the local community and provided me some opportunities to use my business training.  In that vein, he invited me to a local entrepreneur event downtown this past week.

Epicentral Coworking, a hub of entrepreneurial and innovative business thought in downtown Colorado Springs, hosted a “Business Wake.” Now mind you, after twenty years of flying, I lived through some pretty harsh flight debriefs, but never a wake. I could not pass this up.

During the evening, five very brave individuals stood up and gave a fifteen-minute postmortem on their failed startup ventures. Their stories were raw, unfiltered, and sometimes comical. They put aside their egos and pride to provide the audience of budding entrepreneurs some valuable insights and lessons learned. Along with their sense of melancholy was a sense of celebration in their failure, a hope that maybe a nugget of information passed along could prevent a listener from making a similar mistake.

The event provided closure for those who needed it, discovery for those observing and a sense of community for all willing to take a risk and run with a new idea.

I am thankful to Bruce for the invite.  The night afforded me the opportunity to meet new people, to learn more about my new community, and to knock years of dust off a business degree not often exercised in the execution of my Air Force duties.

I learned a few valuable lessons from this first month in my new environment.

1)   Job sites are important, but relationships matter more. I met Bruce through a mutual friend and he has now connected me to several other colleagues and friends that I have helped with their projects. Bruce even hired me to do some part-time consulting work for his company while I made decisions about my long-term plans.

2)   We all help each other by sharing past experiences, both good and bad. The wake presenters provided a wealth of insights and paid it forward to others. For example, many in the audience did not realize the difference between a startup and a small business!

The future is bright! I am excited for this new chapter in my life because there are many opportunities to serve in my new home. With such a vibrant, enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit surging in downtown Colorado Springs, the future of this community is definitely climbing higher.