"Great companies start because the founders want to change the world... not make a fast buck." Guy Kawasaki
Imagine having a dream so big, so unique, and so expensive to pull off that literally, it's never been done. In your heart, you know it will improve millions of lives. As much as the Internet, social media, and smart devices have torn us apart from the genuine familial closeness we once had, this will bring it all back. This will redefine family. Families we will once again communicate belly to belly, eye to eye, rather than smart phone to smart phone. Once again, community will be in the flesh and not on Facebook. I recently sat down with two entrepreneurs who have put all of their chips on their dream of building the New England Sports Village, a 130 acre site where families will come together to play every kind of sport, dine together, work out together, and be together. The complex includes outdoor baseball, soccer, and football fields. It includes indoor ice arenas, 50 meter pool and endless swimming warmup pools, tennis courts, and gyms. It includes restaurants, spas, and community gathering spots. It has hotels, arcades, and mini golf. It is a one stop complex that brings families together the old fashion way, in person.
Their names are David Boucher and Joe Fitzpatrick. They are business partners who met in 2012 when their kids were playing hockey together. In three short years, they formed a close friendship, deep business partnership, left their comfortable jobs (Joe in commercial real estate and David in financial services), and they went after their massive vision to build the New England Sports Village to bring families back together for community fun. They purchased 130 acres in Attleboro and recently broke ground on their vision. It takes a village to achieve huge dreams. Here are David and Joe's 5 simple lessons to achieving big dreams.
Find the Right People: David and Joe agree that one key to their success so far has been in finding the right people to help them on their journey. Funding the sports complex required the two to go out and find banks and investors to the tune of $52 million. The two have travelled the country meeting with money men and women and have learned that they don't just want investors and they don't just want money, they want it from the right people. In fact, the two have turned down opportunities from money men who didn't share their values. David said, "We can only see ourselves working with people that understand the vision and who really care about what we are doing. We live in a world where families get divided, ironically, due to family activities. There's one kid going to dance, one to soccer, another to hockey, and the parents are glorified taxi drivers. Not only that but our constant obsession with smart phones, texting, email, and social media is changing the family dynamic in a less than positive way. We are creating a movement with NESV where family is no longer a group of people that sleep in the same house, but rather a community of people who talk, laugh, eat, and play together." According to David, the funding received thus far on the project is from sources who believe in the vision. He says that this project is highly cost intensive and it's unique, which means all they have to share with investors is a beautifully painted picture of a better future for family activities.
Partnership Mix: David and Joe are opposites in every sense of the word. This is apparent within ten minutes of meeting the two. David, the former financial adviser, is quiet, patient, soft spoken, and analytical. Joe is loud, impatient, and anxious to act. Joe will tell you exactly what's on his mind whereas David will keep his mouth shut if he sees no value in sharing his opinion. Joe says that because they are opposites they work so well together...all of the qualities the two possess combined come in handy at various times. The two have learned to read people and quickly determine which one should control the conversation. I asked if their opposite personalities ever cause friction within the business and they said no. They have too much respect for one another to fight. They understand the value that each one brings to the table and when they disagree, they figure out a way to resolve it. According to Joe, "David would give me his very last dollar to help me and my family out...and I would do the same for him."
The Entrepreneurial Life: According to Joe, entrepreneurism requires that you live comfortably within chaos. He says that no two days are alike. Sometimes, there are weeks of constant stress and disappointments. You must always be ready for the unexpected. Joe says that he has always been an entrepreneur and he's fine with the uncertainty of never knowing what's behind the next door. For David, he's been slowly evolving into the life of an entrepreneur. Having been a financial adviser for 16 years, he says you take certainty for granted. He says there's something to be said for knowing what each week will look like and knowing that there's definitely a paycheck at the end of the week. That being said, however, he says that this vision is so important-and worth every risk the two families have taken to bring it to fruition. David says that what gets him through the tough days is the realization that they are creating a business that will change millions of lives. They aren't just creating a business, they are creating their legacy.
Nobody Wants It: The greatest challenge the two have had is raising the $52 million needed to build their vision. They have made significant headway which has given them the ability to buy the 130 acres and start building. Now investors and banks are starting to step up. Joe says that's just the way it goes when you are creating something that has never been done. Joe says, "Nobody wants it until somebody wants it, and then everybody wants it." Joe talked about how he and David handled the hundreds of rejections received when they first started presenting to investors. They just kept their eye on their vision and they remembered that everyone in the world who has ever done something great, withstood massive rejection. Said Joe, "Mark Burnett was rejected hundreds of times when he pitched Survivor, and today it's the most popular reality show in the world and Burnett has gone on to produce several other shows. If Mark had accepted no for an answer there would be no Survivor, no Apprentice, no The Voice, and no Shark Tank." Achieving massive dreams is hard work and requires the ability to hear no for an answer while continuing to move on.
What Keeps You In the Fight?: The final advice David and Joe offered for achieving big dreams is this: They said it's absolutely important to understand what it's going to take to stay in the fight. The partners agree that entrepreneurship is a tough battle and it is vitally important to have a strategy for pulling off your dreams. Embedded within the strategy there must be a strategy for staying in the fight. The strategy for Joe and David is to keep focusing on their original vision. For them, it's not about making millions of dollars (although they understand the importance of profitability), it's about creating a better future for families throughout New England. The two agree that entrepreneurship is not a question of getting knocked down, it's a question of what's going to be so important to your core that you will never ever stop getting back up.