Do you ever wish that you could see that your CEO is a human being? That they are vulnerable? That they can mess up?
In today’s episode, Aimee Kandrac, CEO and Founder of WhatFriendsDo, tells us about the time where her close friend’s son was diagnosed with cancer. As her friend’s family waited in isolation in the hospital for 100 days, many stories were shared and stored on Aimee’s database. About 6-months into this journey the WhatFriendsDo website crashed and none of the backups worked, Aimee had lost their whole story. On top of that 10,000 other users all over the world lost their data as well. When anyone has a technology crash it sucks. Users are upset and people get frustrated and wonder “Why isn’t this working?”
WhatFriendsDo was holding people’s lives at a critical time for them. Losing this data was like losing their story — the story of the most intimate and critical times in their entire lives.
For Aimee, as a business owner and as a friend personally impacted, it was hard to untangle herself from the personal side to be the CEO. Aimee was in full-on crisis mode. The questions going through her mind were:
- Who do we have to get to and by when?
- Who else do we need to bring in?
- What are the long-term ramifications of this?
- How do you continue to show up for the world while you were struggling through all of this?
- For the things that hit her emotionally, how much of that should she share with her team and when?
Aimee had lost all of the data, all of her users and the fate of her business was uncertain. Even though she hadn’t created the code, as the CEO, it came down to her. It took about 6-months of soul searching before Aimee made the decision to come back and restart her business.
Aimee reprioritized how she showed up for the world. It was a really hard time for her marriage because she had put a lot of time into the business and it had failed. She was depressed. On top of it all, it was summer. The kids were out of school and she could focus on them but she couldn’t hide from what had just happened because she was involved in activities with all those people that she had just let down.
She also couldn’t abandon her team. Everyone was struggling and they needed her to be the leader. Her small team had formed really close relationships and she needed to find a balance of figuring out the next steps in uncertainty:
- What level of emotion could she share with the team?
- What level of reality could she share with the team?
- And, what level of leadership goes into all of that?
But Aimee realized that just because it wasn’t perfect, that doesn’t mean you quit.
Following the catastrophic event, Aimee decided to pivot her business model and go from the B2C model and switch to a B2B model. WhatFriendsDo needed to rebuild their software and have better architecture underneath it with improvements to hosting which required funding.
Knowing that investors in Indianapolis were familiar with SAAS, Aimee shifted her focus to partner with hospitals by white labeling her services earning the seed funding to rebuild her company.
- A key question to ask yourself during struggle is, “Will it be worth the effort to continue?”
- Learn something new every day: Do you have your own learning plan to equip yourself with the skills you need now to move forward.
- Put yourself in your CEOs shoes and know that every decision has many different layers, various stakeholder perspectives, and you need to present information in a focused, strategic, and innovative way.
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About Aimee Kandrac
Aimee’s story began when a close friend, Laura, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor at the age of 25. Aimee, her mom, and her sister took charge and coordinated all of the non-medical care, and rallied hundreds of friends to show their support. Recognizing the need for a simpler way to coordinate care, Aimee co-founded WhatFriendsDo.
At WhatFriendsDo, Aimee is an innovator. Instigator. Advice giver. Leader. She excels at inspiring others to pitch in and help, and sees WhatFriendsDo as an incredible opportunity to take caring to a new level, but in a very personal, powerful, and viral way.
At her core, Aimee is passionate about running a technology-based company centered on helping friends and families going through a life-changing event. Her innovative leadership has earned her recognition as one of Indy’s Best and Brightest Finalists from Junior Achievement of Central Indiana and as a Top 50 Mompreneur of the Year from eBabble.com.
Aimee has been featured in print and online in Forbes.com, Fortune, Time, LA Times, Advancing Women, Oprah.com, Indianapolis Woman, and the Indianapolis Star, as well as many TV, radio, and podcasts.
WhatFriendsDo is a free platform that empowers friends to help loved ones in need. When an event like a health crisis occurs, people experiencing the crisis often feel overwhelmed and alone, and the friends and extended family members who love them want to help but frequently don’t know-how.
WhatFriendsDo channels caring into concrete action, enabling friends to organize meal delivery, household chores, childcare, transportation needs, fundraising activities and more on a single, simple-to-use platform — and keep everyone involved and updated along the way.
Communicate, Coordinate and Connect.
Keep your team nimble for the change ahead with this step-by-step toolkit.
Change readiness is the ability to stay flexible and adaptable during ongoing uncertainty or planned growth. Lead your team through the messy middle of every project.