Dancing to Success Speech
Transcribed from a speech given by Nancy Benet in January 2019 at an event hosted by Elevate Daytona Beach
Hello, Daytona Beach, so happy to see all of you here. My topic tonight is success and I want you to know that you each of you are contributing to your own success as well as the success of the Daytona Beach Chamber, the leadership Daytona alumni council, every single event sponsor, and all of the wonderful presenters, so give yourselves a hand.
Hit it Mike. As Ken said, my name is Nancy Benet and I'd like you to think for a moment about the definition of success because it means something different to each and every one of us, and it seems to be what we're all striving for, at least the people in my circles. For me, it was always about creating a thriving growing profitable business. Even when I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a busy office with lots of happy employees creating something wonderful for our clients, being the boss. So, I looked around at people who had what I wanted, and I thought maybe they were lucky. There was no concept in my brain of what might have gone into their success so in an effort to be lucky too, I chased every get rich quick opportunity that came my way. Of course, it always ended badly.
After five humiliating business failures, six hundred thousand dollars in debt, and a nasty divorce, I woke up and realized there's nothing quick or easy about success. My own success journey actually begins with this much-needed meltdown, for that was when I decided to put my head down march forward and work really hard, not looking up to find out where success might be or if it's getting close. No head down, march forward, work hard. With the hard work I thought it would be a nice dance to success but much to my dismay, I would move forward a bit and some catastrophe would befall me, I'd be knocked backwards and had to start all over again. This happened repeatedly, two steps forward, one step backwards, two steps forward, one step backward. Maybe it was the cha-cha.
So, I'd like to share with you a few of the more memorable turns around the dance floor. For me, it all started with a signed contract to buy an existing tax preparation business. For an accountant and entrepreneur like me, it was a dream come true. It had owner financing and everything so of course, I went out and signed a three-year lease on our new office space. And the day after, the guy backed out on
the deal and left me sitting there, with almost no clients and four hungry mouths to feed. I was devastated. But after all that horrible failure, I was not going to quit, so somehow, we pulled it together and we're doing fine, until the government shut down. Because of a budget crisis, well by that time, most of our revenue came from helping taxpayers, who have federal tax liens filed, navigate the IRS. And it all dried up. But again, we pulled it together and we're doing ok, until my seventeen year
old son was involved in a near-fatal car accident, he was airlifted to Halifax trauma center where he had 12 surgeries. He was there for five weeks and then another year recuperating at home. As his primary caregiver, I was hardly able to work, an issue business people know that would be devastating for a small
business. Through all of these setbacks and problems I realized that there was a common thread, it was that within each one there was a small nugget of something positive that helped propel us forward.
So, let me tell you about those. The first was the gentleman with the business he did us a huge favor by backing out because he forced me to think outside the box with the marketing, took us from being a tiny DeLand tax prep firm to being a force in the state of Florida for IRS problem resolution. The government shutdown taught us that we need recurring services revenue like bookkeeping and tax prep, today a lot of
our revenue is from recurring services and we're expanding the brand with just the recurring services. The car accident, as bad as it was, taught me that I need a team of people around me to handle things when I'm gone. And today, I have the most amazing team. They handle everything, they are a creative, innovative, and supportive. They are what allow me to be here with you tonight during tax season.
So, taking the positivity one step forward, I realized that in the middle of a crisis we have a choice to think differently and to look for that small nugget because there always is one. That one thing opened the light in my life. No longer was I fearful of what might happen but confident that whatever it was, I could handle it and there would be something positive from it. So today I have a new definition of success. It's what we as individuals become while we're walking that long, dark, lonely, often steep, and rocky road to our destinations, for that's something nobody can ever take away from us and it's what makes us successful at everything we do.
So, my challenge for you tonight is to learn to embrace the challenges that life brings, and the setbacks, and the hardships, find the nugget and let's dance!