As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing William Kornegay. William Kornegay is the co-founder of WIRL, WellnessIRL.com. He runs the platform with his wife, Dr. Tasha Holland — Kornegay.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Of course, I’m William Kornegay, the co-Founder of WIRL. There are three things you need to know about me: I’m a marketer, a husband, and a father. It was all three of these roles that led me to WIRL. While I’ve had the privilege of working with top brands like Coca-Cola, NASCAR, Nintendo, Toyota, and Wendy’s in my marketing years, I got involved with WIRL after watching my wife struggle with — and eventually overcome — burnout. I saw the toll it took on her, and I saw how much strength it took for her to overcome it. We both decided that our next move would have to involve burnout, and that’s when the infrastructure for what would become WIRL fell into place.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a tech-savvy guy. I can send emails all day long, but anything beyond that is pushing it. The best example I can think of comes from managing WIRL’s Instagram page — I thought a post I shared had blown up with 1,000’s of likes, but I was actually looking at a Bloomberg Business post. Not my best moment, but when the realization hit, it became clear that starting a business is always an uphill battle. We all want to wake up and figure out that our projects have taken off, but in reality, we need to keep our chins up and start walking our own way up that hill. The rest will come as it may.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I’m a big fan of Doctor Radio and Bloomberg to get my business and health news fix.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
The foundation of WIRL was built with a mission: to help my wife with burnout. Once she powered through it, we realized that we had face-to-face experience with this prevalent issue, and that we had a great system in place to help beat it. So, the larger vision became helping other health professionals with burnout, all while supporting small businesses.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Stay steady, stay the course, and be patient.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family-related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Our first priority is keeping our family healthy. While staying at home has kept us physically safe, there are plenty of other factors to consider, such as mental health and overall quality of life. Having a four-year-old who hasn’t been able to socialize with his peers has been tough — but we do our best to be the best parents we can be, spending time together and setting up playdates with his pre-k classmates via Zoom.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Not being able to meet with local businesses face to face has been a challenge, but we are learning to accomplish a lot of meet-and-greets using various web-based platforms. While this is a convenient path forward, and it’s better than losing contact with our clients, nothing beats meeting face-to-face! I think direct human interaction is so essential in business, and I look forward to getting back to it so we can keep our best foot forward.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the corona virus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
My approach to this is simple: spend time together, and then some apart. While so many of us are at home, it’s really important to come together as a family. But you need to mix things up! Planning activities, finding new shows, hanging out in our yard, and cooking together are great ways to keep our days bright — but I think it’s really important to give everyone a chance to have some time with their thoughts. Reading, napping, or just working on a solo hobby is great in that case.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I mentioned earlier that human connection is essential to my way of business — well, one thing I think we’re going to see a lot of is human connection in a post-COVID market. Many people are discovering that some things just get lost over digital mediums, so I can’t wait for me, my clients, and prospective leads to all re-discover each other together. Here at WIRL, we’ll also be in a prime position to help small businesses market their products by offering them a membership on our platform — all of whom sell great wellness-boosting products that our health professionals will get at a discount.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act, or live?
On one hand, we’re all learning how many of our business operations and personal habits aren’t essential to day-to-day functioning. On the other, we’re realizing just how many activities that we once considered trivial are actually necessary. There has been a big shift in what we value, and I think we’re going to watch this transition affect our market and communities.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Even before the pandemic began, WIRL was focused on providing affordable wellness services and products to health professionals. Now that our health professionals are working on the frontlines to keep us safe, this is more important than ever. Our primary concern is keeping our business running so we can keep giving our members the services and products they depend on. Once we start going back to normal, we’ll put our scope on scaling up.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I think this is a great time to re-evaluate our businesses to make sure that we’re solving problems that are relevant and tangible to the modern market. There’s a high demand for WIRL, and there’s no indication that the wellness of our medical professionals will ever cease to be a concern. So long as your business is operating with real and meaningful values, then you can operate at your best.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Everything is due to you in your time.” I remind myself this when I get tired or just need a boost. As long as I work hard and focus on my family and livelihood, when my time comes, I’ll be where I need to be.
How can our readers further follow your work?