March 20, 2021

Three Lessons That Can Help Your Business From A Former Merchant Marine

Matthew R. Meehan is a leading finance expert and CEO of Shield Advisory Group. He specializes…

Matthew R. Meehan is a leading finance expert and CEO of Shield Advisory Group. He specializes in helping SMEs access credit and capital. 

I have always believed that as long as you’re open-minded, you can learn something from anyone, no matter their occupation. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to spend time around my grandfather, who served with the Merchant Marines during World War II, traveling around the world fighting for the allies.

Every time I saw him, he told me stories from his life, some funny and others more serious. Later on in life, I found out that while he never owned any businesses, he led multiple organizations to become major players in their respective industries until he decided to leave the workforce. 

Since starting my career on Wall Street and until this day, his advice has helped me scale multiple businesses. Here is what he told me. Whether you’re in the finance industry, my hope is this helps your business, too.

1. Watch what people do with their hands, not their mouths.

The world has a long history of grandstanders and “snake oil salesmen.” They can make you believe they have the magic elixir to life and business, but after you fork over your hard-earned money or share of your business, they leave town and never fulfill their promises — or, worse, are never heard from again.

The only difference today is these types of fraudsters are not riding into a small town and setting up shop. Instead, so-called gurus pop up on social media channels, promising us they can fix our life or our business in a short period of time.

Do your due diligence on anything involving money. Before you decide to open a business, make an investment, get a partner or hire a coach, make sure you do your homework and critically review any claims someone makes. 

2. When torpedoes hit your ship, it’s OK to be scared, but never panic.

When we least expect it in business, problems arise. Some problems are small and can be dealt with without an ounce of sweat. Others need to be thought about thoroughly before making the call. In the heat of the moment, an issue might feel irreconcilable. The best solution is to give yourself time to address the situation before acting on it.

If 2020 taught us anything as business owners, it’s not to make irrational decisions. We learned what moves not to make over hours or days, but rather how to pivot over months. As the saying goes, it is darkest just before dawn, so we need to remember that often our darkest moments become our greatest learning experiences. Because the next time a problem arises, we will have the fortitude to deal with it.

3. You can or you can’t do anything you want. Either way, you’re right.

Believing in yourself is crucial. As business owners and entrepreneurs, we live on highs and lows. It is the nature of the beast. Our mindset is what sets us apart from our competition. The things we tell ourselves consistently tend to become our reality. Remember to keep reminding yourself why you started, especially when things get rough. 

Even though believing in yourself is crucial, do not become overly confident in your ways. Things change at the drop of a hat, and you must be sure you’re agile enough to pivot.

These lessons have helped me stay positive, persistent and skeptical throughout my career, and I truly believe they can be applied to both business and life for anyone.


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