One of the most difficult things I think for people to do is analyze and come clean publicly when it comes to failure. I had two major failures that I will be putting to bed in 2014. I had great intentions, great plans, and most of the people involved were angels. Although there was one major of devil. I am not sure if it is because I am so passionate to move mountains that sometimes I trust the wrong people. In this blog I will review the two projects and hopefully we can learn some lessons together.
The first project was Autism Friendly Business. This for profit venture was put together to teach businesses how to deal with the many new customer service situations arising from the aging of the population dealing with Autism. We provided an assessment of a businesses knowledge about ASD, provided recognition, tools and marketing to raise their level of service for those on the spectrum, those with special needs and all customers. We tried numerous levels of membership but ultimately the business climate was such that very few progressive forward looking entities took advantage of our services.
We actively supported with social media those businesses that expressed a desire to learn and grow with us. We were able to get a number of sign ups from very small to mega corporations. Of course, doing a start up with next to no operating capital and a team spread coast to coast is a little crazy. All of us dealing with loved ones on the spectrum, loss of jobs, injuries to spouses, elderly parents and much more. Bottom line this model was ahead of its time and it's time may never come. I would love to visit with anybody thinking that they can set up a for profit in this sector. Attacks came from many naysayers and individuals who I assumed would be supportive. You learn a lot about the psychology of your peers when you try to make a living here.
The second project was AutismAid. This Non Profit was a dream of mine to unite all the service Autism Non Governmental organizations in an umbrella organization that provided backbone back room support to all doing such valiant work in the field. These organizations are working so hard for our loved ones. I hoped to piggyback off the success of winning a number of Pepsi refresh grants and Toyota cars for good. Also the working with Samsung and the Dan Marino Foundation was very rewarding.
I am very proud of the fact we were able to bring together, even if it was only for a moment 13 non profits. I found red tape, politics and evil people abound. In hindsight, many armchair quarterbacks said they could see the writing on the wall. One individual who promised us the world did not deliver and almost ruined the lives of a few dedicated individuals who gave the project their all for a couple of years. None of us getting even reimbursed for our expenses.
As I close the door on these two ventures, I want to say how thankful and proud of those I served with. I know some of us are now separated by time and miles but I will forever be your friend and be I your debt for helping me chase my dream. Unity within the Autism Community. Secondly I want to say thank you to the hero leaders and unsung volunteers who work around the clock to help our families.
Some of those amazing service organizations operate on shoestring budgets and yet still find it in their heart to help maintain Age of Autism. I beg you to support Generation Rescue, Safe Minds, National Autism Association, and The Canary Party in the amazing work they do. When you get a chance tell their leadership and Executive Directors thank you, say a prayer and donate if you can.
Thank you again for letting me take this walk of shame with dignity. I tried. I was taught when you fall down, to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, turn yourself around and do it again. So with these experiences under my belt, and lessons learned look for the next run at getting services our loved ones need. I do know that next time I will be running with the support and supporting those battlefield tested teams that make it happen everyday. God Bless.
Tim Welsh, is one of the most active and influential Parent Advocates for Autism. Avid Speaker, blogger, and Tweeter (@TannersDad). Tim works to build unity within the Autism community, Gain Insurance coverage reform, End Restraint & Seclusion, Advocate for services, prevent wandering and much more. Tim & his wife Cheri have one son Tanner (16).
“I have a son he has autism, but, I also have dream. I dare dream of a world where profound regressive autism is not only treatable, but is also preventable”