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Why You Need More Adversity In Your Company Culture


This past year saw the ROI team deeply grow in our skills, processes and unity.

It has been an amazing journey for me, personally, as I’ve watched each and every one of my team members take command of their respective areas of expertise and propel our agency forward into new and exhilarating frontiers.

I’ve sat back on several occasions just to marvel at the progress we’ve made throughout a few short years. In these moments, I’ve pondered if there was some single event or group of events that facilitated the development of ROI Online into what we are today…

When I was a child, I vividly remember my father picking me up from Kid’s Inc. football practice on a frigid winter evening. He just finished his 9 to 5 and was driving to the elementary school’s ball field to pick me up in the $800 Chevy he purchased a few years before.

jim-football.jpgFrom my perspective, this vehicle was a source of stress and anxiety. It had broken down several times earlier that month and I knew every time my father showed up in that pile of metal there would be a high chance something would go wrong and I would have to face awkward looks and pitiful stares from my classmates.  

When my father pulled up to the football field, he popped open the trunk and helped me get my gear into the car. As I hopped in, I remember praying the Chevy would start so I could get home without facing embarrassment.

As expected, the car stalled out.  I hunched my back while hiding in the rear seat as some good Samaritan parents helped my father jump the car in front of all of my classmates. After what felt like an eternity, the car finally started and after saying our thank you’s, off we went.

During the entire ride home, I vowed to myself I would never be in a situation like that again. It was the final straw. I would bust my ass until I “made it”  and never have to experience that shame again.

When we arrived home, my dad went straight to work on the yard and house as usual. I remember thinking to myself, “Why isn’t he as upset or embarrassed about this happening AGAIN as I was?”  

I was still fuming like the little brat that I was and I finally confronted him about it. I took a few cautious steps back as he stopped what he was doing and stared at me.

jim-dad-car.jpgHe thought for a moment, and in a stern and disappointed tone he spoke the Lao equivalent of these words: “Why would I be embarrassed? I bought this car with the hard-earned money that I’ve made since moving to America. It takes you and your sisters to school, gets me and Mom to work everyday, and brings home the food that you eat.

"Someday, we are going to buy a new and better one. But God gave me this car as a start, and I’ll use it until it breaks and I can save more money. But when this car breaks down it’s a good thing, too, because that just means I get a chance to learn how to fix it.

Those last few words are what stood out to me the most. Being grateful for adversity? Being a kid at that time, I couldn’t fully comprehend how profound this idea was and still is. This type of thinking falls in line with the Bruce Lee quote, “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

Adversity finds all of us if we live long enough. We can’t walk until we fall down; we can’t build our bodies without first tearing them down; and we can’t learn if there isn’t a problem for us to solve.

My dad’s response to adversity has continued to apply throughout my lifetime. When the plumbing in our old home became so worn down that it no longer functioned, we rolled up our sleeves, and with the help of a family friend, dug up the old pipes and learned how to replace them to improve the plumbing.

When medical or personal issues inserted themselves into the lives of my family members, we responded with resilience and thankfulness because we knew that once we were able to overcome these obstacles, we would be way further ahead in our lives than if these problems never existed.  

We knew that as bad as some of these hurdles may have felt at the time, they were just opportunities for us to become better, stronger, more mature versions of ourselves.   

jim-dad.jpgROI Online’s growth and prosperity can’t be attributed to one single event or one single person.

But if I had to pinpoint the major catalyst of why we are where we are now, I would say it didn’t stem from a new hire or an industry conference we attended.

I would say that it was because of each and every piece of adversity that has tried to obstruct our path.

  • Each time a client calls into question our skills, we take the constructive criticism, refine our processes and grow.
  • Each time a website fails or glitches, I become a better developer.
  • Each time a campaign flops, we examine its shortcomings and develop a better campaign. 
  • Each time a client requests something we didn’t think we could handle, we accept the challenge.
  • And each time we unexpectedly lose team members, the remaining members push themselves to the limits of their individual abilities.

Adversity is the greatest gift our agency has ever received.
Without it, we would have never come as far as we have, and, to be frank, I’m grateful and excited to see what type of adversity we will encounter next.  


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