Ryan Blair didn’t have much of a choice when he was forced to join a local gang in his seedy Torrance, California neighborhood. You’re on one side of the street or the other, the logic went, and Blair chose as most 13-year-olds would: He fell in line to keep himself and his family alive.
The high-school dropout’s rocky home life provided little comfort—his biological father had recently abandoned the family—and prison soon seemed inevitable as his crimes, from burglary to drug dealing, grew more severe. Though he insists he never killed anyone, he confesses that murder was a common assignment for most members.
When he was 17, Blair’s mother began dating an entrepreneur who quickly became the role model and mentor Blair never found in his biological father. Blair went onto become a serial entrepreneur, self-made multimillionaire, New York Times bestselling author, venture capitalist and CEO of the global healthy lifestyle company ViSalus. He’s done nearly $2 billion dollars in sales and nearly $1 billion in exits. Today, he appears regularly on CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN and Fox, and has been featured in many business publications, including Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.
Here are the 5 Lessons on bankruptcy from Ryan Blair – “Multimillionaire Serial Entrepreneur”,
1. Own your failures
The humiliation of Blair’s bankruptcy resurfaced eight years after declaration, when short-sellers sent private investigators through his trash can and interviewed his friends in attempts to “tear down [his]company.”
Blair believes sharing our failures helps reduce shame and empower others:
“There are millions of people who’ve [gone bankrupt], and they have shame about it. And in my opinion, America is about failing and having a second chance. I want people to reflect on those rock bottom moments. I may not be the model for everyone, but you might be the model for a few others.”
2. Realize that everything around you is a product of entrepreneurs
Everything shifted for Blair when he saw his bankruptcy through a lens of consumerism and materialism. ” The lifestyle we are sold is one built by entrepreneurs ,” he explains. “I don’t see sports the same way I used to now that I understand that the very act of me watching a television all day long and going to a game and wearing a jersey and rooting for a team, is an entrepreneur taking my time and getting paid for it. The whole world around you is build by entrepreneurs, and [I went bankrupt because another] entrepreneur basically took money out of my pocket and put it into theirs.”
Today, Blair is intentional about his spending, enjoying the “fruits of [his]labor” without being reckless.
3. Ask for help
“You’ve gotta check your ego and be willing to ask for help,” Blair says. If you’re an entrepreneur out there—or actually, it doesn’t matter [who you are], learn to ask for help. ” His go-to? Starting an email with the subject line, “I Need Your Help,” then going onto explain why you thought of that person in the body of the email.”
4. Principles and values over all else
Over time, Blair learned to set priorities. He tells the story of how he pulled back on the decision for his company to go public, and accept a buyout instead.
“As an entrepreneur, [an IPO]is like the dream, it kind of certifies you … especially if you’re an ex-gang member and you’re ringing the bell on the NYSE. It kind of says, ‘You’ve made it,’ in terms of transition,” says Blair.
5. Hiring great people is a given. But it all starts with you
Blair has worked hard to build a stellar brand, run his company, and take care of family responsibilities.
Blair mentions “You have to hire great people. So I hire the very best of the very best, but I do it all myself at first to master the process … Once I get the process down, I then turn [it]over.”
We’ve all seen CEOs (or even project managers) who serve as the right hand, while having no idea what’s going on in the left. To effectively lead a company or project, you must get familiar with the ins and outs. That way, others will respect that you know what you’re talking about, and your direction will have true impact.