Sam @CUSP Conference 2015

Sunday, October 6, 2013


“To be or not to be, that is the question.” It’s a question Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” asked himself during a moment of reflection. And isn’t that a question entrepreneurs have asked themselves at one time or the other? Isn’t that a question we constantly ask ourselves throughout our lives? What do I want? Who am I? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be?

I have probably never asked myself this question more than this year. I call 2013 the year of change as that has been the constant theme for me, personally and professionally.

Change rips you out of your comfort zone, smacks you in the face and kicks you in the gut when it announces its arrival.

Loss of one of my closest friendships – Bam!

The job you thought would change the trajectory of your professional life isn’t what you hoped for – Smack!

The person you loved isn’t really who you thought – Boom!

You’re going to lose your biggest supporter. Your grandma passes away – Ouch!

You’re not as healthy as you thought. You need to have surgery –Eek!

Change can hurt.

And sometimes in the midst of change something really beautiful happens.

You have the opportunity to do Shakespeare in the park for the first time in Detroit’s history – Wow!

The chance to direct and produce Shakespeare at Grand Circus Park came to me at the most magnificent time because I was going through all of these changes, and I had something to hold onto as my life evolved. And that’s exactly what I did. My answer was “to be.”

I had always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur.

I completed the “First Step” program at Tech Town. And I pitched the idea around town. But, until the moment I was given the chance to do “Othello” at Grand Circus Park, Shakespeare in Detroit was only a tax ID number, a pitch, a concept that lived in my head.

Choosing to be an entrepreneur was a beautiful change with all its complexities, scary moments, ups and downs.

Being an entrepreneur has helped me become a better problem solver. It has taught me how to prioritize and how to let go. It’s given me tougher skin. It has made me better in every way.

The loss of one of my closest friendships – I’ve got to crawl before I walk in business and in personal relationships sometimes. There was a lot of heart equity that may have an eventual payout – a stronger, better friendship. I am optimistic.

Maybe that fancy corporate job wasn’t what I had hoped for – but now I know exactly what I want to do and deserve at work and in life.

That person I loved who was a façade – I could use a little work on my analytical and observation skills.

Grandma is gone – coping and learning to deal with loss are valuable assets for life and business.

A little surgery? – Eh, sometimes you have to change your strategy in life and business. And everything needs a little fixing sometimes.

Like I said, this has been the year of change. But, even with all the discomfort of change and growth I am grateful as I write this blog.

I am not the same person I was a few months ago. And as painful as it has been, I am better for it and I won’t forget those lessons no matter how many times change has smacked me in the face or kicked me in the gut. I will remember those moments – the uncomfortable ones and the beautiful. As Hamlet says at the end of his soliloquy: “Be all my sins remembered.”

I’ve been through a lot this year, but there is still a long way to go.

Shakespeare in Detroit isn’t just a theater company. It has changed my life. And I hope we can continue to change lives in the city for years to come through art, performances and experiences that make us realize that everything is possible. And while life may get hard and change will come, at the end of the day something really beautiful could happen – something as magical as a cast of Venetians and a Moor in the middle of downtown Detroit.

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