During the talk at Sixth & I, Mahlum described how failure and an imperfect childhood helped her find purpose in her own life. As the daughter of a gambling addict, Anne first learned about her father’s predilection in her teens. Quickly, the idyllic life she’d imagined for herself and her family faded away. This addiction, her father’s failure, led her to find doubt in the life she’d always imagined – a life of a perfect husband, a perfect job, and 2.2 kids.
On the brink of accepting a cozy job at Comcast, Mahlum started a running group for the homeless in Philadelphia that grew into Back on My Feet. The program was a huge success; Anne found that because the program focused on emotional transformation, she was able to help the homeless members’ change the way they thought about themselves and ultimately rise above their station. Back on My Feet maintains a 48% retention rate, moving members from a state of dependence to independence.
After years as the CEO at Back on My Feet, Anne faced another moment of failure when members of the leadership began to quit. It was here she realized that because the program made her feel special, she was letting her ego get in the way of how it was run. Mahlum stepped down as CEO and started anew with solidcore.
Mahlum spoke honestly to the group of 160+ early risers; she told us that failure is always an option, but it doesn’t mean we should marinate in the idea. We should take comfort in the fact that all of us have the ability to succeed, and to fail. Don’t let comfort rob you of the potential to do bold things.
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