Staying Calm — Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Just stay calm and let digest the situation and roll with the punches. I made sure my employees knew I was calm and collected so they didn’t start to worry about their jobs and situation
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan McEniff.
Ryan McEniff is the owner of Minute Women Home Care, a home health agency located in Lexington, MA. He is also on the Board of Directors for the National Aging In Place Council and hosts his own podcast, The Caregiver’s Toolbox.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My name is Ryan McEniff, and I am a business owner in a suburb of Boston. I have been the owner of Minute Women Home Care since 2011 when I purchased it from my aunt. We have been in business since 1969, and help seniors stay in their homes.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
We were caring for an elderly man who lived with his wife. We received a call at the office that the caregiver we sent was not acceptable and were told to replace her, which we did.
Then the next caregiver received a similar review, and we were told to replace her as well. Concerned, we called their daughter to learn more and how we could improve. The daughter laughed, as she did not realize her mother was ‘firing’ caregivers. She explained that her mother was a jealous woman and didn’t want anyone prettier than her to care or her husband.
First time I was ever told to send an “ugly” caregiver!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Home health care is a difficult industry, because humans are messy people, especially in high-stress and emotional situations. Eventually, something goes askew, whether on the family’s side or a caregiver has an issue. These are the situations that differentiate one company from another.
For example, we have had numerous situations where caregivers are stuck in snowbanks unable to move their vehicles. They have been plowed in. We will drive in the snowstorm to make sure our caregivers get to their clients, because their safety depends on their caregiver showing up.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am fortunate to have many people in my corner supporting me. From multiple aunts and uncles who have run businesses, to my father who was a branch manager of a large plywood wholesaler. Additionally, my partner who has always been there for me. Being a business owner is lonely, especially late at night when all you have are your thoughts. Having someone who is in the senior care industry and can talk thought ideas, concerns and problems has been important.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience to me is to keep moving forward in the face of adversity. When you fall, getting back up and to keep pushing forward.
Resiliency is realizing the only way out is through. When your mindset views it that way, then there is no other option. If to get from point A to point B is to walk through a field of thorns, what option do you really have?
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage is the act of risking your current wellbeing to achieve something greater. Courage could be running into a burning building to save someone, it could be standing on a comedy stage, it could be quitting your job to start a business.
Resilience comes in after courage has taken place. Resiliency occurs after you have been booed off stage, but you still have another set later that night, after the first business failed but you have a new idea, when you couldn’t save the person, but you know there will be other fires where people need you.
Courage is taking the first step; resiliency is continuing to move forward after taking the first punch.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
When I think of resilience, I think of my uncle who moved to the United States from Angola and Portugal. He lost everything and rebuilt twice, nearly dying to do so during the Angolan civil war. To lose everything once in Angola including his life, then to move back to Portugal to rebuild during a massive recession. Once successful years later, he faced the choice of whether to give everything up again to start over in the United States and did so.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
When I purchased Minute Women from my aunt, things were bleak. While my family was supportive, they also let me know there was a good chance the company was in such trouble it might not be saved. Without a doubt, some luck was involved, as if we had a few clients pass away, we would have been losing serious money. I worked 16 hours a day for two years building this company back up, to be profitable and to employ 25+ people, for which I am extremely proud of.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
My career in home care started when I received a call from my father that my mom had a seizure. After further testing it was revealed she had stage 4 cancer that had metastasized throughout her body. I experienced the fire hose of information that occurs when a situation like this develops. We needed home care and hospice. During this time, my aunt and I spoke about my experience, and she suggested I consider buying Minute Women Home Care from her, which I ended up doing. I was now able to help others the same way that my family was helped with aides from home care companies.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Resilience starts when you are given a challenge and you meet those expectations and overcome. As a child I needed to sell coupon books to pay my way to filed trip to Washington DC. At 13 years old, I knocked on countless doors in dozens of neighborhoods to sell the necessary amount that was required.
While it wasn’t an impossible or monumental task, for a young teen to go out and accomplish their goal with hard work, showed what having resilience could do.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
The last two years were about as turbulent as it got since the great depression. Government was shutting down businesses, customers stayed home, and people were dying in record numbers from a disease we knew little about.
During this time, I didn’t know if my business was going to survive. More importantly I didn’t know if my customers were going to survive as we provide home health care services to seniors.
During this time, I decide to do some things that allowed me to focus and become more resilient
1) Staying Calm — Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Just stay calm and let digest the situation and roll with the punches. I made sure my employees knew I was calm and collected so they didn’t start to worry about their jobs and situation
2) Focus on what you can control — I couldn’t control what the government did, what a virus did, or what my customers did. I could only control my actions. So, what can I take control of? What can I focus on that will help my business down the road (assuming I survived). I looked at it as, at the very least I am keeping occupied and focused on positive tasks, rather than doing nothing or self-medicating.
3) Education — I bought some education classes. I took a sales class from an author I enjoy. I participated in a LinkedIn class on how to have the best profile and how to use LinkedIn for your business. I read books that were on the back burner that I always felt would be great to pull knowledge from and to improve.
4) Projects — Maybe my customers were gone, and the phone wasn’t ringing, but that didn’t mean I had nothing to do. I had a long list of back-burner projects that needed to get done, one of which was finally writing my processes and procedure manual for current and future employees. What parts of your business could you work on if your phone didn’t ring for 3 months?
5) Planned — I know this isn’t easy for everyone, but I had saved up enough money to weather this storm, which allowed me to be calm, focus on what I could control, spend time learning and work on my projects. I was laid off in 2008, I was young and had little overhead, so it wasn’t a big deal, but I saw in co-workers the fear and anguish of losing their job. People that had children, mortgage payments and families who relied on their income. I saw people lose their homes. When I bought my company, I vowed that I would save up enough money that I could weather most storms and I did. I didn’t lay anyone off, I didn’t cut people’s pay — none of my employees had to worry and I didn’t have to worry either.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!