“I can’t take the stress, I didn’t sign up for all this responsibility.” Nearly in tears, my only employee quit.

Three weeks before this meltdown, we were installing a custom home office—the largest project yet of my fledgling business. After 12 months of rapid growth, I needed to subcontract a larger shop to build the cabinets for this luxe waterfront home. The design work was left to us. I conceptualized and he measured and drafted our project—old-school style, with pencil and paper.

My mid-20s pride was turbocharged as we unloaded the truck; the smell of freshly sprayed lacquer and wood infusing the ocean air. I led the charge in what I was certain would be a massively successful outcome. The morning passed with ease. The base cabinets, a wood desk top, and a custom couch were set. Admiring our work before lunch was a visual appetizer. Next up, the first upper cabinet (a massive, glass-paned storage unit) was carefully hauled into the office. Hmm, it seemed too large for the allotted space. I pulled out a tape measure and sure enough, there was a 12-inch discrepancy in height! In the garage, that same pesky tape measure affirmed that all the upper components were exactly 1 foot taller than the room. The casualties added up: Profit was lost, pride was deflated, my employee quit, and an annoyed client needed to exert patience for another month.

Weeks later, I was sitting in a college classroom learning AutoCad, a computer automated design (CAD) software by Autodesk. That night, I steadfastly practiced, typing commands and attempting to draw something … anything. By week 10, I could use the program proficiently. I had more to learn, but with the basics, I was able to do 90% of the job. As a Luddite with most technology, I needed the pain of that waterfront mishap to push me toward a technological evolution.

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