Intentional Growth

#188: Facing Death and Doing Deals: How to Take Setbacks and Turn them into Comebacks

Intentional Growth
#188: Facing Death and Doing Deals: How to Take Setbacks and Turn them into Comebacks

Entrepreneur and family office investor Andy Billman faced death head on when he was talking to the surgeon who was removing a tumor from his skull… while he was wide awake!

After a lifetime of doing deals (at one point he did 14+ acquisitions in the course of 5 years) Andy was faced with devastating news that he had brain cancer.

Since his brain surgery, Andy has made it his life’s mission to help entrepreneurs understand how to take their obstacles, recalibrate their minds, and use their businesses and their lives to help change others.

On the show he talks about the ups and downs of his career (buying a company, getting sued, going bankrupt, acquiring 14 companies in 5 years, and how he ended up at a family office) and why having a good perspective on life is the one thing that can make the whole ride worth it.  


What is the first thing you would do with your business if you were faced with horrible news? Would you try to sell everything tomorrow or would use that news to put into action all the things in your business and life that you’d been holding out on?

Andy shares his experience of facing death, so we can understand the importance of reflecting on what’s important for you, your life, and your business.

Life is finite and the best thing you can do is come to grips with that. Once you do, you will have a lens to view the world with that helps you prioritize what’s really important. It can help you transform your business and life while allowing you to enjoy the ride.

What you will learn:

  • Why leaning into challenges can be one of the greatest gift’s life can give you
  • Lessons learned from over 12+ acquisitions on the buy side
  • The most important question you can ask about a potential company you want to buy
  • How Andy changed his perspective on life and business after brain surgery
  • How Andy is using his diagnosis to enjoy M&A and his business ventures
  • What it was like to buy into a company and have it go bankrupt while getting sued
  • What Andy looks for in a good acquisition
  • How to be optimistic on deals and why you need to surround yourself with detailed and cautious people
  • What Andy refers to as the “bull shit meter”
  • The power of telling the truth and being transparent
  • The difference between short term and “patient” capital
  • Why the purchase price should be the table stakes and how to focus on the intangibles in the terms and conditions
  • Questions to ask yourself if you didn’t have the business as part of your life


“I just kinda smiled and said, ‘Well, my mom always told me I was special.’” - Andy, about having rare brain cancer.

“I share my story with complete strangers because I hope that I can make an impact in whatever they are going through.” - Andy

“Life is finite. People are also people. How do we integrate business and humans and the long game of life into one journey that we enjoy and that makes and impact on others.” - Ryan

The Takeaway:

Life is finite and you have the ability to realize that. One of the most useful life tips I’ve incorporated into my life was from Benjamin Franklin (when I read his biography). He explained that ⅓ of his thoughts were on the fact that life is finite in order to calibrate the things that he dealt with.


Andy Billman, LinkedIn

Andy Billman, email:

Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top [Kindle Edition] by Bo Burlingham, Amazon

ARKONA Boot Camp

Reach out to me if you have questions about the boot camp! 

You can also reach out to me via email at, on my LinkedIn, or you can call me at 612-720-6530.

About Andy:

Andy Billman is a results-driven, passionate senior executive with over 25 years of leading transformational change and delivering exceptional results. Bottom line, and customer-focused leader with a proven track record in a variety of roles. Skilled at establishing operational and commercial excellence within culturally diverse environments. Accomplished in strategy deployment and problem-solving.

Brought to you by Ryan Tansom of Intentional Growth