Successful entrepreneurs: personal crisis leads to triumph
Entrepreneur, heal thyself.
Here’s how a personal crisis led to entrepreneurial success. Meet Gary Schreiner, coach, trainer and consultant for entrepreneurs.
“I was a successful lawyer,” Gary Schreiner explained, beginning his story, “as well as a mediation coordinator and a Director of Family Court Services under contract with the Idaho Supreme Court. By any measure, I was doing well. I knew my life wasn’t perfect, but I kept that thought tucked away in the back of my mind.
“Then one day, I nearly blacked out in a high level meeting, and the realization that I was no longer controlling the stress and anxiety in my life came crashing home. I’d reached the point where I wasn’t just burning out, I was figuratively smashing into a wall. I was in the deepest, blackest hole you can imagine, and it was impacting every area of my life, family, friends, work, all of it.
“Not that I wasn’t good at hiding it from others. I was. But I got to the point where I could no longer hide it from myself. I couldn’t continue to ignore that, while I was surviving day-to-day, I wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of life.
“In effect, life was passing me by. Something had to change.”
That was the starting point for a career transition for Gary Schreiner, from successful litigator and mediator, to coach, trainer and consultant to executives and entrepreneurs. The founder of Unconquerable International and the developer of the Six Catalysts system, Gary is sought out by highly driven professionals and entrepreneurs who want help developing the mindset, habits, skills and resilience they need to succeed in their businesses or careers, and to reach a balance in life.
His methods, based in science and research and fine-tuned through years of experience, are grounded in health, wellness and personal growth.
Hitting an emotional rock bottom provides the motivation to succeed.
“Reaching that point of almost no return,” Gary continued, “was the catalyst for me. It was then I started researching…trying to fully understand the way I was feeling, and looking for cures and solutions. Over time, I distilled the information and principles I discovered, and applied them in my own life.
“And they worked.
“I realized I could help other people dealing with the same problems and issues. I fit what I learned into a usable framework, then began researching the market. I studied the personal development and performance industry to identify what was being offered. That research helped me realize there was a market for my idea, and also confirmed that my approach was unique…a different way of helping people function at optimal levels through a science-based holistic framework.”
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Despite working with entrepreneurs on a daily basis, Gary didn’t define himself as one until a few years ago. He’d been functioning as an entrepreneur 15 years, but never put that label on what he was doing. We first met Gary when he responded to our small business survey related to defining an entrepreneur.
In his early working life, Gary didn’t function as an entrepreneur. He spent much of his time “as a cog in the wheel.” His life journey has included stints as a burger flipper, telemarketer, laundry driver, toilet scrubber, cubical dweller, middle management exec, computer staffer, attorney, mediator, family court administrator, and security and defensive tactics instructor.
All of which led him to a successful career as a lawyer and conflict manager, which in turn led him to getting seriously burnt out, which led him to found Unconquerable Life and begin life of an entrepreneur.
So what exactly is Gary’s business?
He described it this way. “Imagine you’re on an endless rollercoaster, with no control, and you don’t know where you’re going. All you want to do is get off. But you don’t know how. Then imagine you’re given the power to let go of the rollercoaster and fly, wherever you want to go. You may encounter obstacles and roadblocks, but you can fly, on your own. That’s what I do. I provide executives and entrepreneurs especially, with ways to get the power they need to get off the rollercoaster and fly, to achieve their goals.”
And why did he decide to focus on entrepreneurs and executives?
“I’d like to say I could help everybody,” he said, “but one thing I’ve learned is that if you try to focus on helping everybody, you’ll wind up helping nobody. I find that to a large extent, the people I can help the most are executives and entrepreneurs because they tend to be more driven, and more focused on improvement.
“Issues can strike people in any industry. I’ve worked with folks in mortgage, document management, aerospace, nuclear research, information technology, law, social services, law enforcement, government, counseling, construction, education, and security. The career they’re working in isn’t important…what is important is that the person is a do-er, someone who recognizes it takes effort to achieve meaningful change, and is open to making the effort to effect that change. The type of person that I cannot help is someone who is just sitting around waiting for someone to do it for them.”
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Gary continued, “The person that comes to me is a person who has reached a point of dissatisfaction with some aspect of their life. They’re stuck, they’ve plateaued and they’re smart enough, and not too proud, to ask for a little help. Often these are very successful people, who nevertheless feel like they’re missing something in life.”
Gary’s services are personalized to the client and can include 1 on 1 meetings, monthly coaching, phone sessions, online programs, a 5-day workshop, speaking, seminars and workshops and everything in between.
So, what is that separates an entrepreneur from the pack?
When discussing the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur, Gary listed having passion first. “Passion is extremely important. It’s passion for your business, passion for serving others and passion for life that drive you to create and build something meaningful. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you may succeed for a while, but ultimately it won’t be fulfilling, and you’ll never be able to take it to the highest level.”
Gary is quick to credit his parents with putting him on the track to entrepreneurship. “My parents raised me to follow my own path,” he says, “to believe in myself, to believe that I could do something different, and to believe I didn’t have to follow the accepted trail.”
Another trait that Gary deems important to his success as an entrepreneur is determination. He explained, “My wife would probably call it ‘stubbornness’ but if I believe in something enough, I will work hard for it, through any failures that come along. Let’s face it,” he continued, “being an entrepreneur is hard. Many try and many fail. Actually everyone fails, but the difference is that only some people get back up. I’ve had spectacular failures, but I haven’t let them stop me.
“And I would also say it’s important to dare to dream. Dream beyond what is currently possible and take risks when others tell you you’ll fail. Pursue your dream, especially when the safe thing to do would be to remain a cog in someone else’s wheel.”
Any advice to help other entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they face?
- “For one thing, get a clear picture in your mind of where you want to go. It was Yogi Berra that said, ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else’, which is very true. Always keep your eye on the prize, on what you want to accomplish.”
- “Believe in yourself. Believe that you can do what you want, always, even when others doubt you.”
- “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. None of us can do it all on our own. Don’t be bullheaded about it. Ask for help when you need it.”
If you’d like to learn more about Gary, you can find information online. He will soon be launching a beta version of a new website, Thrivebeat.com, “focused on helping executives and entrepreneurs find their own life rhythm, offering resources and an interview series of stories that will not only educate, but inspire.”