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September 20, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Chris McAdoo shares how near life-ending experience has impacted his views as an entrepreneur

Little did I know that the third session of this fall’s “Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition” would continue the lively give-and-take with Shawn Carson and the guest speaker, but this time at an even higher steroid level than the previous week’s conversation with Tommy Nguyen of StoragePug.

While last Wednesday’s discussion included the same type of humor and engaging dialogue that Carson and Nguyen displayed, it also came with a strong philosophical aspect provided by Chris McAdoo, Founder of the Best Behavior Creative Club and, until recently, Creative Director and Account Manager at Design Sensory, an integrated advertising agency that bought his firm in 2018.

The always upbeat and animated McAdoo shared one of those life-changing personal experiences that no doubt will be remembered forever by those who heard his story about the reality that being an entrepreneur, growing a company, and working as hard as you can comes with a certain level of sacrifice.

In McAdoo’s case, it literally was an almost life-ending experience on the morning of June 24 that became his apocalyptic pivot day and the catalyst for revisiting the importance of an appropriate work-life balance.

“I got stung by yellow jackets while walking the dog,” he told the attendees. Thinking that it was uncomfortable but not serious, McAdoo returned home where he shared the experience with his wife. She kind of shrugged it off until he went into anaphylactic shock. For those who don’t know the term, it is defined as an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive.

“My body literally started shutting down,” McAdoo said. Firefighters arrived first, and they revived him. Paramedics arrived next and revived him a second time. Yet, from the stretcher as he was being rolled-out to the ambulance for a trip to the hospital, McAdoo told his wife, “Don’t forget to bring my laptop.”

As if that was not enough, he was released about noon that day and was back home doing Zoom meetings that afternoon. “I almost died this morning and was in a major client Zoom meeting that afternoon,” McAdoo said. “I realized that my priorities were completely bananas. I realized that wheels had to be put in place to make a change.”

That change involved quitting his job, and McAdoo is now into the eighth week of his “sabbatical from the grind,” as he describes it. The self-imposed time-off comes after 20 years in the workforce following graduation from Carson-Newman University with a major in painting and a minor in political science.

Acknowledging that quitting a job is not something that everyone can easily decide to do, McAdoo said he’s not sure what is next other than continuing to paint, a lifelong passion. He has, however, established a framework that will help him make that decision on the future, and it will be based on the value that he can bring to others as well as the personal value it can bring to him.

The three-step process is explained in three words – define, refine and activate. Regarding the first word, McAdoo said it is important to understand “what matters most to you.” His answer is independence. That key for him means that he has to refine the true meaning of independence and how it can be manifested in his life. Finally, activate is exactly what you would assume – take steps to activate those values that are important to the individual.

Carson noted the similarity between McAdoo’s exploration of where he can best bring value and what entrepreneurs need to do as they look for paying customers for the product or service they want to deliver.

There’s a good deal of hiking and other outside activities these days for McAdoo, not the meetings that he says he hates. “The only plan I had (when I started this journey) was I would start talking to people,” he explained, adding with his typical insightful humor, “I’m operating at peak inefficiency.”

The fourth and final session before the pitch competition is this Wednesday. The finale will begin at 5:15 p.m. September 30 during “Innov865 Week.”

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