This is the last of three articles in our The struggle is real entrepreneurial series. If you haven’t read the other articles yet, start here with Erin Moffatt’s story, or jump to article two for Joel Jelinski’s story.
As an entrepreneur, you’re no stranger to facing unexpected circumstances; they’re a part of daily life. There’s often no clear-cut line between balancing personal and professional, so when life happens, it happens to you AND your business.
Erin Moffatt, Joel Jelinski and Michael Tighe are three Calgary entrepreneurs who know what it’s like to face the unexpected—and how to move forward. Read on for Michael Tighe’s story and advice to other entrepreneurs who may be facing challenges of their own.
'I slept with the lights on for five months'
Michael Tighe is a managing partner at Solid, a communications and website design firm.
In 2016, Michael Tighe’s web design and communications firm was flourishing. The small team, led by Michael and his business partner, Heath Waller, had just brought on young Alec Bracegirdle as an intern. The brother of Michael’s best friend, Alec was a talented videographer and Michael quickly came to see him as a little brother of his own.
In August, Alec went on a video shoot north of Calgary with another one of Michael’s dear friends, well-known Calgary chef Jonathan Sobol. On their way to the shoot location, a moving van made an unsafe pass on the highway and struck Jonathan’s Volkswagen head-on. Both men were killed.
“That started a very precipitous descent for me,” Michael says. Not only did the event have a profound impact on his personal life, it also resulted in a 60 per cent decrease in company revenue in 2016-17.
“I slept with the lights on for five months. It took me about a year to even start coming out of a rather serious depression. I was the only person in the world who knew both people.”
Michael speaks openly about what happened and how it impacted both him, his team and his clients, all of whom rallied around him for support.
Michael’s advice to entrepreneurs
Being an entrepreneur is “not about your ability to stand up and stop the tides or part the seas.”
“People think you have to be this otherworldly strong person to start a business, to build a business,” Michael says.
“And that’s not true. To me, what it really means is your ability to bend and not break.”
Thank you to Erin, Joel and Michael for bravely sharing their stories about mental health and entrepreneurship at The Struggle is Real in Calgary in November. The next Struggle event will take place Jan. 15 at Work Nicer Beaver House.