Meet Thomas Weidlich (Germany), an entrepreneur turned COO. Thomas is sharing his insights about how the mere struggle for survival in entrepreneurship makes you stronger and how The Arc brought him back his pride.
Take your time to make a real match in life, don’t settle for anything less than what really suits you. I would rather let go of my goals and postpone them somehow, instead of keeping the pressure on me and getting stuck in a situation that is not good for me.
We always ask as the first question: who are you and what are you building?
My name is Thomas. I am 29 years of age and I am building a program to help solve the global workforce crisis. We’re helping companies to find employees, also to keep them, so everything from matchmaking, brand building towards being a good employer, all the way up to keeping employees with culture development, with leadership development programs and everything in that.
There’s this heroification of entrepreneurs as well and I’m curious, what were the hardest or maybe even the darkest moments for you on that journey and what helped you?
First of all, I totally agree that entrepreneurship is not that heroic. All those influencers, they show the story of a great lifestyle and everything but they don’t show what’s happening when they’re not motivated, when they’re not looking in their best. So, the first struggle was to find something and to stick with it over a long time. Even after two, three years of not making money, do you still wanna do it? Are you still believing in that topic? I was working in a field where I wasn’t sure of that but I also didn’t know to ask that question. It turned out that my light bulbs basically got turned off, I didn’t have any electricity anymore and I couldn’t buy food for two weeks. I got to a point where I got, I don’t know, people would call it a burnout, but I was staring at a wall for four days. I didn’t know what to do. I was kicking my butt for feeling that way and for not being able to come up with a solution. When my mom told me to just let it happen, I said ‘all right’ and I allowed myself to get out of bed, I went to the gym and after a couple of days, I was able to do something again. I also learned that I still didn’t wanna give up on me being an entrepreneur. So, back to the wall, not knowing what to do, not having any money. When you feel like you’re a smart and brilliant guy, and are really optimistic and enthusiastic, and you’ve got skills and you just don’t make money with what you do, that frustrates you, and it questions yourself a lot, and it kind of kills your self-esteem. You get into this vicious cycle of stuck-in-motion. All that keeps you away from just being productive. This is basically the third obstacle – being productive continuously. At about 80 to 90 percent of your work time needs to be sales. You believe in your product and you don’t wanna push yourself towards others every time? But you need to do that. That’s what you have to do. You have to go and annoy people with what you got.
I have met you as this incredibly optimistic, super-happy kind of person. What has helped you in that moment, that you were like, ‘I’m back on track’?
I needed to first learn that I was playing on the wrong field. I was playing basketball on a football field and I didn’t know it. You wanna put yourself out there, you first need to understand, is there a market and is that something that fits you and suits you, that you’re able to play? And if it doesn’t, change it. Change it, and test and try out things, until you find something that fits. I stopped working in the financial industry, I just cut off my mentor, and then I started just doing some regular jobs. Trying to sustain my life, of course, but also, I was taking the time to figure out what I wanna do. Then, the next step was, I got a call from a former friend that they were looking for a sales guy in Berlin. Making sales calls, and each sales call usually takes an hour… I was like, ‘oh yeah, that’s me’. First, I didn’t make any sales and I was really questioning myself. Then I had some really great coaching input from my business owner. He told me to forget everything I’ve learned over the last years and he told me I was not allowed to make a pitch until they’ve asked at least three times in that phone call what it really is about. I started being myself again, bonding with people, building a connection with people. So I was really talking about their cats, and the dogs, and the children, and the weather, and all that stuff, you know, that’s just small talk but really going deep with that. And then, after half an hour, they said, ‘Wow, whatever you do, we trust you’. I’m like, ‘Okay, this is cool. Now buy my product!’. So, eventually, I’ve got to stay there for one and a half years. I was even making more than my head of sales because the clients I closed, they stayed. After one and a half years, ‘Alright, I’ve grown enough. I can go out there again and do it by myself’. I found a guy who’s good at executing, so we started on a marketing agency and, after a short time, I was talking to many potential customers. Most of them said, ‘Alright, online marketing for selling my product is nice, to get more deals in, but I need employees to work off the existing deals’. Then I was like, ‘Okay, now we’re doing online marketing to help products and services to be sold, we can also use online marketing to promote a company and to promote open vacancies’. And this is how we started doing e-recruiting. We’re the number one country in the world with the fastest-growing not placed employees.
Since you are an Arc alumnus, why did you join initially and what did you actually get out of it?
Well, I was looking for great people in my network in Berlin, because I felt that the environment I had was not that amazing. What I have gotten out of it was so much more than just great people in the network. I have been able to really dive deep into my own personality and discover some part of myself that I have not been taking care of, such as my personal pride. That means that I have been doing things but I haven’t really been myself and so I could not have been able to be 100% authentic and help people as much as I wanted to. Also, I have not been able to attract the people towards me and really convince them that they’re in good hands. Once I found my pride back, I’ve been able to vocalize strongly when I disagree with others. I’ve learned in a book, back in the financial industry, that you’re not supposed to give feedback until you’ve been asked for that. However, people need someone to tell them when what they’re doing is bullsh**. They also need someone to tell them what to do. Even business owners love when someone finally comes and tells them what to do because they have to make so many decisions every single time. It’s stress to 99% of the people. I am doing that now, I’m receiving much better results in my sales, in my communication. That’s just one thing. For ten years I’ve been in the personal development sector, I’ve been to different kinds of seminars, from all the great gurus to small people that nobody knows, and The Arc has been by far at the best seminar/workshop/self-discovery that I’ve ever been to. It helps you extremely to be straight on point, knowing what to do and being able to make decisions in your life. To move forward in a much faster way.
Thank you so much for all the nice things you’ve said.
For any of you who want to participate, come and join us for a Coffee Chat, which are our 45 to 60 minute one-on-one coaching sessions, where one of our team members will sit down with you and dig deep on what’s holding you back, how you can use your biggest talents, passions and values to build something that inspires yourself and others and if The Arc’s the right organization for you to fuel your personal growth.
With these words, wishing you a happy end of the day!