By Dexter Lunde
Peter Rosenberger, host of a weekly radio program, public speaker, writer, and spokesman for caregivers, is also the president of Nashville-based STANDING WITH HOPE; a company that provides artificial limbs to people in developing countries. He’s been through his share of struggles and has a few helpful tips to help you follow your passions.
Peter and his wife, Gracie, share their non-profit,STANDING WITH HOPE, their for-profit, Gray Park Media, LLC, and they both share his struggles as a caregiver and a business-owner. Following a horrific car accident that eventually cost her both legs, 78 operations, and $9 million in medical bills, Peter’s wife, Gracie reached out to her fellow amputees.
Now, Peter is compiling a lifetime of experience and reaching out to fellow caregivers. Each had their niche, an incredible story to tell, and hearts big enough to put the rehabilitated Grinch to shame. Not only are they entrepreneurs, they were also helping people.
With Routine Comes…Boredom
So how does a caregiver and entrepreneur start off his day? Peter’s day starts off a little different from everyone else’s since he works from home. “My house often looks like a scene from a horror movie,” he jokes, referring to the prosthetic limbs strewn all over his home when packing a shipment for Ghana, West Africa. But his day isn’t all about disassembling and reassembling prosthetic limbs.
“With my new book, it seems that I’ve spent the last few months with writing/editing, and now interviews. Through Gray Park Media, I write weekly blogs, podcast my radio show (www.caregiverclub.net), and work on my websites. I also am diligently raising funds for Standing With Hope, as well as recruiting more prosthetists to travel with us, working with prosthetic companies to purchase supplies, doing interviews, and checking in with clinic staff in Ghana. I have unlimited minutes on my cell phone and use them all! Having blue-tooth helps, because I can clean the kitchen, take care of my wife, do a load of laundry, and talk to NBC news without missing a beat and I have done just that!”
Taking that Leap
It’s a hard decision to make that leap into the wide waters of entrepreneurship. Peter had the drive to be his own boss while he was in college but didn’t get a chance to actually act on it until about eleven years ago. But it’s not just work that he has to balance, being a caretaker makes the juggling of his personal and professional life even harder. However, he does know the importance of trying to live a balanced life.
“I think I’ve always wanted to be my own boss. Working for other people bored me, and I could only move as fast as they did. My creativity was limited by committee. I don’t have a ‘creative committee’ at my company.”
“That’s where it gets a bit gray. How gray? Charcoal! I work from my home, so I am on call 24/7 for both personal and professional. Taking some time off is not easy. I do carve out two nights and a Saturday afternoon for martial arts, and I attend at least two support groups per week as part of my self-care as a caregiver.”
“Take control of your situation, you’re going to have to be more aggressive. Don’t know very many entrepreneurs that are passive people.” – Peter Rosenberger
Tricks (and Traits) of the Trade
As we talk, I can see the traits that he suggests other entrepreneurs have. He is a bundle of energy (even early in the morning) and he is both aggressive and assertive when he needs to be. Although he probably has been this way his whole life, part of it must stem from the challenges that he had to face as they began their businesses. Peter is truly one of the lucky ones as he hasn’t had an entrepreneurial endeavor slip through his fingers before. However, he does encourage those who are starting out in their garage to stick with it.
“Funding is always a challenge, but branding I think is the biggest one. In order to be successful, a clear message of what we do and why we do it must be delivered …EVERY TIME. Connecting people to the message, to the cause, to the mission. It stems from being able to properly and quickly articulate the passion and objectives of the company. Everything from the website to the letterhead must accurately communicate the company.”
“Stay in the garage. Rent’s cheaper, bills are cheaper, the commutes easier. It really doesn’t matter where you work, as long as you are able to clearly define what you want to do, why you are doing it, and what benefit it is to the client/customer/donor.”
“My martial arts instructor has to regularly remind me to not ‘muscle’ the technique. It won’t work properly if you try to force it. It should just flow like ballet. That’s a real wisdom for business.” – Peter Rosenberger
Outsourcing the Resources
In addition to knowing what you want to do and why, entrepreneurs should also consider using the resources that they have at their fingertips, even if it seems unorthodox. Strategic partnerships can come from anywhere. STANDING WITH HOPE is no exception to this.
“We live near the headquarters of one of the largest private corrections corporations in the US (Corrections Corporation of America). Partnering with them, we developed a program at one of their facilities a few miles from our home. Inmates disassemble used prosthetic limbs for us. I call it ‘Operation Footloose.’ We use everything in the limbs but the socket, so they take it all apart.
Volunteers do this for us. An inmate once said that he had never done anything to help anyone before in his life and now he’s proud to do something for people with disabilities. He’s actually helping people. What am I supposed to say to that? For entrepreneurs, it’s not normally a lack of resources but a lack of resourcefulness.”
“You’re not selling widgets or promoting a service. You’re offering solution. The non-profit I started provides prosthetic limbs to amputees in West Africa. I see firsthand with my wife how important quality prosthetic limbs are to amputees. I have a solution to a problem affecting people.
I provide a solution to donors who see a need and want to help address that need. My new book for caregivers of disabled/chronically/elderly loved ones comes out in Sept. I’m not selling a book, I’m offering a way for my fellow caregivers to have more peace of mind, stability in their life, and more meaningful relationship with others …and even with themselves. It’s a solution to a problem.”
Don’t Stop Believing
Okay, look past that bad Journey reference for a moment. Peter and Gracie Rosenberger have incredible stories to share. Gracie’s story is one of will, strength, and determination. Not only did she walk when her doctors told her that she wouldn’t be able to, but she also followed her dream of helping other amputees in West Africa by providing them with prosthetic legs. It is the epitome of inspiration that a woman who was going through struggles of her own can have the strength to help others as well.
However, it was Peter’s story that really struck a chord with me. His sacrifices and determination to make sure that his wife is cared for is what tugged at the heartstrings of this former caregiver. Their company, STANDING WITH HOPE, was formed and dedicated to helping amputees gain the ability to walk again. Meanwhile Peter’s business, CaregiverClub.net, gives practical help to caregivers in order for them to stay healthy. After all, caregivers can’t help anyone if they are in need of help too.
If you want to hear more about Peter’s inspiring story as a caregiver, check out his new book, Hope for the Caregiver. You can also listen to his podcasts on caregiverclub.net.