It was way past the midnight. About the time when every idea seems like a great idea.
We were just a bunch of friends having fun when the thought hit us. Let’s start a business together!
We acted on it. The year was 2006.
It turned out to be a stupid move... but it could not be undone.
That’s how we started a business called Prove in a world that would soon plunge into the financial crisis.
...At the wake of the unfolding I ended up as the CEO of my company by accident. It wasn’t an easy job to first fire my friends.
...Years later, when I slowly learned to read the financial numbers, I discovered that Prove was only two weeks away from bankruptcy. And it wasn’t the only thing diving steep. I was a total mess too. I managed to destroy both my marriage and another company we had started soon after Prove.
For me, it was the eclipse of both personal and business life. Not my proudest moments. I was spiraling towards a total destruction.
The wakeup call came on one Thursday at 3:57pm. I got a text from the father of a friend. It was only three words, but everything around stopped.
Not long before the friend had confessed that he was an alcoholic. He took a decent shot at recovering but in the end could not bear the pain of his past. He took his own life.
I cried in the car for hours. The darkest moment of my decade. But I guess it was the only way.
...The next morning I woke up to see myself in the mirror. The friend and I had been on the same path, he had just been way ahead of me. Although my I’m not an alcoholic there was much overlay on many addictions that I suffered.
One night, when I yet again was trying to escape the adversities on social media, Youtube suggested me something. It was titled ”This video will change your life.”
I usually ignored such non-sense, but now the timing was perfect. I laughed and clicked myself through. What could I lose?
It started with a Jim Rohn quote that pierced my conscious mind.
"LIFE AND BUSINESS ARE LIKE THE SEASONS. YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE SEASONS BUT YOU CAN CHANGE YOURSELF"
First I got angry and then the thought started to sink in. It started to dawn on me that maybe the bankruptcies of my life were not the cause to my internal turmoil, but the symptom of it. Maybe I was not the victim but the root cause of it all.
...I had been resisting the seasons and sacrificing all my energy in a losing battle.
Slowly the idea about seasons started to set me free. Then, one morning I woke up and felt like I could breathe again, something that I had not been able to do in a long time.
...Acceptance is a bliss.
I jotted the distinction down on my journal pages.
"Seasons don’t ask for your consent, they just come and go as they have always done. Trying to change the seasons only depletes you, the only thing changeable is yourself."
It was late 2014. I had wasted half of the decade fighting a force of nature. But now I experienced a shift in the tectonic plates of my thought. The results were profound.
Before I was a sceptic, doubting everything. I lied to myself and everyone else that I was just good at critical thinking, while it was just an excuse not to change myself.
Lucky for me, the wake up call came, and I was ready to listen.
So, the last half of the decade I spent in deep study on how to develop the self.
”Success is a few simple disciplines practiced EVERY DAY” became my mantra as I started to implement new rituals around reading, planning, time management, retrospecting, journaling, moving, eating and sleeping. I got a personal coach and started investing both time and money in recrafting myself.
Now, looking back at the journey, I must admit that the adversity was also the root of biggest opportunity. It’s just as Douglas Malloch puts it in his epic poem.
"GOOD TIMBER DOES NOT GROW WITH EASE; THE STRONGER WIND, THE STRONGER TREES"
The lesson stays the same in all areas of life. The skillset that you must build to survive winters of life and business will also help you thrive when the season turns favorable again!
Since my turning point half a decade ago, Prove has made over 800.000€ in profits and the personal life is in peaceful balance again.
But seasons work their magic yet again. Seasons don’t ask for your consent. It’s as if the famous Game of Thrones saying was made manifest.
"Winter is coming."
So came the COVID-19 and so will the adversities follow once more. The chokehold that the virus has taken on every nation is unparallelled. Global economy will dive deep as businesses start to fall the longer the quarantines hold.
Just recently I saw an estimate that the unemployment rate in United States could rise to 30%. At the same time 60% of americans have a financial buffer of $400 or less. It doesn’t take a genius to guess the scale of the humanitarian crisis globally if this is the situation in a seemingly wealthy country like the United States.
The best thing that entrepreneurs and business owners can now do for the world is twofold.
Survive and thrive.
And do it as fast, as bold and as big as humanly possible.
"GOOD TIMBER DOES NOT GROW WITH EASE; THE STRONGER WIND, THE STRONGER TREES"
I write this to make my statement. In terms of my busines I’ve got only one thing to say to these adversities.
NOT ON MY WATCH!
On my watch Prove will not fall;
On my watch we will take the winds;
On my watch adversities become opportunities;
On my watch we survive
...and then we thrive!
Now looking back at the last decade, it feels like everything has prepared me for this moment.
...And there is a good chance that everything has prepared you for this moment too! You only need to see it!
This is the beginning of a new decade. As people over estimate what they can do within a year, they dramatically under estimate what they can achieve in a decade. My story is a proof of it.
This time around I will take all that I’ve learned and apply it on my business, Prove. I will do my part for the global economy by first surviving and then thriving to 10X this business!
To make sure that it’s not just words, I commit myself to document the whole journey on both video and writing.
...Now I invite you to join the ride too. Either invest your energy with someone who is willing and able to put their everything into surviving and thriving OR make it happen for yourself!
Today the world doesn’t need your fear or your worry. Now, more than ever, it needs the best version of you!
So, get to it!
Antti Niittyviita, CEO & Entrepreneur, Prove
Every morning, before all of this begun you packed your stuff and left off. Cycling, driving, commuting, you name it. You took the chance even though you knew what could happen.
There is always someone on the road who is drunk. And there are always many who text and drive at the same time. Then there are the drivers who are just plain tired and may even fall asleep.
The stats are stunning. 1.4 million people die due to car accidents every year. That’s 3200 people every single day!
You did it every morning without fear. You took the risk. It was business as usual.
Now you are at home. Most likely more safe than you’ve been in long time. So it’s time to quit worrying and start doing.
Today, the world doesn’t need more fear or negativity. It needs all the hope, inspiration and energy you can possibly put out there!
What if today, instead of indulging in terrible news and social media anxiety, you did something different?
What if you took a little effort to create something beautiful and put it out there. Touch someone either virtually or in person.
Leave that inspiring comment, endorse a friend or just call someone to tell how important they are!
…And maybe repeat it tomorrow.
As the covid-19 panic spread across the world, a thing caught my attention.
President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador has imposed a national quarantine that prohibits any foreigners from entering country to try to keep out the new coronavirus. He also stated that public and private schools would be closed for 21 days.
Yes, most countries are debating the same options too. No big news there.
But what caught my attention was the fact that El Salvador has no confirmed cases of the virus. So why did the 38 year old presindent take such measures?
While, the policy in El Salvador may be debated, the president’s tweet made a lot of sense.
Any measure we take now will appear exaggerated. Any measures that we want to take later will seem insufficient!
I bet Italians regret not taking exaggerated measures earlier… And anything that they’re doing at the moment probably feels insufficient too.
The idea hiding here is profound.
Most pre-emptive activities that aim for security, quality, certainty or health (and yes, software testing too) first seem like exaggeration.
But the ones who survive, and the ones who succeed accept this.
They always intelligently invest in pre-empting problems and preparing for those that are hard to avoid.
What is this blog about?
I believe that the best thing entrepreneurs can do for the world post-corona is simple.
Tap that button to join!