By Jessica O’Neill, DLE Marketing Intern, Finance and Marketing Dual Major, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Making the decision to start your own business is courageous. Leaving your current company to do so is even braver. But what would you do if this decision were made only a few weeks before the coronavirus took over the world?
For DLE Alum Blake Berg, Partner at DB Partners, unprecedented times called for unprecedented measures.
Blake and his wife, Meredith, had been living and working in New York City. Blake had just submitted his notice to leave his then employer, WeWork, to launch his own development and construction services firm. But when lockdown hit, the couple packed their bags and set off on a journey that continues today.
Since April, the couple has visited 14 locations, by car, staying in short-term rental properties as well as with family members. Those locations have stretched from California to Wisconsin to Tennessee to Arizona and Texas. Along the way, Blake and Meredith decided to ditch November 2021 plans for a big wedding and say ‘I do’ on a Cape Cod beach—just the two of them with a justice of the peace.
“It was a good time to evaluate what it’s like to live in the northeast, the southeast, the midwest, the southwest and on the west coast—and we will have to decide from there,” reveals Blake. As someone who loves the outdoors, he readily admits that getting a break from the city lifestyle and working from anywhere was refreshing.
The secret to success for their nomadic lifestyle has been staying agile. Blake explains, “Planning a course of action for the route we would take and where we would be staying is difficult enough, but varying COVID-19 restrictions made this process even trickier.”
This expedition has reaffirmed essentials for being a successful entrepreneur. Blake has discovered new opportunities for his company to grow that weren’t on his radar screen before the pandemic, such as outdoor dining ”streeteries.” He was able to design and manage projects and work remotely with the trades teams on the ground building out units for 40+ restaurants so far.
Blake has a mantra about his travels that draws a parallel to how he feels about his company: “We just need to stay calm, survive, adjust and things will work out.” A lesson that Berg wants us to remember is that with every unfortunate event, whether personal or professional, there’s an opportunity to turn it around in a beneficial way.
“Panicking never makes a situation better,” Berg said. Instead, this setback was a catalyst for a series of more adventurous choices. It took him out of his comfort zone to discover new cities—for a potential future home purchase—and to quickly adapt to different landscapes and lifestyles.