Founder’s Corner #6: Are You Surviving Or Thriving?

By Max Thomas

Survive vs thrive. I think we all have a general idea of what that means. Whether we’re talking about an organization, a team or even ourselves, we all know how to function in a way that “gets things done” and perhaps even moves things forward, albeit in perhaps not the most innovative, efficient or rewarding way. I like to call that surviving.

I believe that all organizations and people want to thrive. And by thrive, I mean excel at what they do, see the amazing results of their efforts and feel good about doing them. I also believe that all organizations start out with the goal of thriving. What I find is that over time these same organizations, like people, start to make small adjustments to how they work, typically in response to a small problem, or a small road block, or a small inefficiency. While the adjustments might seem miniscule in the moment, over time they add up to the point that an organization that was once thriving is now simply surviving. Everything’s working and perhaps even it’s all getting done, but at what cost, and at what lost opportunity for greater advancement (in other words, thriving).

In this month’s Founder’s Corner I share some of my views on the importance of watching out for when we start making small concessions that jeopardize our ability to thrive. As always, I welcome others to share their experiences and opinions. The opportunities for going from simply surviving to wonderfully thriving are there for all of us every day.


Welcome to this month’s Founder’s Corner. I’m Max Thomas, and here I am at Thunder SEO. Thanks for tuning in. Today I want to talk about surviving versus thriving. As an organization, as a business, Thunder has a vision, like any business has its vision, and our vision is impacted by who we are as people, who we are as a company, what our products and services are, who are clients are, and the industry we’re in.

All these things have come together for us to have a vision of where we want to be as a company, and as a company, we move forward on this vision, like any company does. And as we move forward, we come up against resistance. And for right now, I’m going to label resistance in sort of three broad categories, and honestly, this is, I think, true for a company, but also for all of us as people.

The first kind of resistance we get is challenge opportunity comes, and we deal with it, and it’s a win. So we get a clear win. The other one is we get some challenges and opportunity, and we get our butt kicked. So we learn something. And it’s these wins and these lessons that we always tend to remember, and those are the ones that sort of guide us as we move forward.

But I think the resistance in the middle, the third group is the one that has the most impact, and that’s the resistance that we come up against and we adjust. We make little adjustments to how we work. We make little adjustments to how we deliver our product or our service, or how we function as a company, or even how we function as a person. And it’s these little adjustments that actually add up to have the biggest impact and actually can derail us the most in terms of accomplishing our goal, which is our original vision.

So what’s curious about this resistance, this little resistance is that we can keep going, even while we’re dealing with them. We’re still surviving, but we’re not actually thriving.

And I think another way to look at this is the idea of devil is in the details, and here at Thunder, for example, we are looking at and reworking how we deal with clients. So we’re looking at how clients come into the organization as a prospect and how we qualify that prospect. We’re reevaluating how we set up the strategy and the branding and the whole campaign on the account level to support that client, and also how to structure the campaign so that someone can take it over at any time. This all sounds obvious, and, frankly, we’re doing it right now. We’re surviving. It’s working. But we can see that as part of our vision, we have a dream of where we want to be in terms of larger clients, or more clients, or do a better job for what we do now for our clients.

So we think it makes sense to reevaluate all these details and rework how we’re actually working now. This actually, in concept, is easy, but in practice it’s actually a little harder because it takes a little bit of courage to look at how we function now and to make recommendations on how to change it, because keep in mind it’s working. So, right now, we’re surviving, but what we really want to do is thrive. I’ll say that again – thrive.

I heard an interview with Jack Welch the other day, a very famous CEO, and he made the comment that a company can only thrive if every day everyone who comes into the company is thinking about how to do it differently, how to do it better. I think that really sums up the idea, and he was talking about innovation. So in many ways this concept I’m talking about, of looking at the details, is actually another way of talking about innovation. It is really the piece that, I think, is where we have the potential to stay truest to our vision as a company, and I also think it applies to us as people and all of our daily dealings.

So I encourage myself, I encourage everyone I work with at Thunder, I encourage everyone who’s listening and doing whatever you’re doing to look at the details, to value the wins, and to value the lessons, but also look at the details and see where you’ve made a lot of adjustments that have actually gotten you off course and what you can do to get back on course and to thrive.

Thanks for checking in. See you next month.

Bienvenue a la Founder’s Corner. Je suis . . . no just kidding. Now I got to start over.

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Max Thomas

By Max Thomas

Max is a nationally recognized digital marketing specialist who is an expert on search engine optimization and data-driven digital marketing who has spoken at SMX and SMX Advanced, LMA Southeast, LMA Tech in San Francisco, WordCamp and other industry recognized conferences. As the founder and CEO of ThunderActive, Max has lead his team (with offices in San Diego and New York City) to success for clients in legal, real estate, life sciences, consumer goods and new tech. A Columbia undergraduate with a Yale MBA, Max is an Impact Circle Member for The Trevor Project and is an advisor to start-up companies and angel investment networks, including Gaingels and Serval Ventures in New York.

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