27. Weaponizing Adversity: Focus on Opportunities, Not Failures

The Dirt

20-09-2022 • 50 mins

Ascenditt cofounder Mason Dorner joins Jim Barnish on this episode to talk through the adversity he’s overcome, both personally and in business. He'll outline how to avoid costly sales and marketing mistakes, and weaponizing hard times to drive growth.

With a background in marketing, Mason went from sports to Disney before leaving the corporate world for a tech startup. Over the span of 4 years, he helped this company grow from $1M to $100M and achieve unicorn status ($1B+ valuation). On the side, Mason was already setting the foundation for his next venture. Today, as a cofounder, he takes his expertise to other digital startups looking to reach aggressive revenue targets and grow.

Scaling companies is the easy part for Mason when compared to his personal life. While building both companies, he was diagnosed with cancer and a degenerative eye problem within months of each other. He decided to not let his health problems drag down the rest of his life, and used the concept of "weaponized adversity" to compartmentalize worries and focus on big opportunities.

Key Takeaways

  • Conversion rates (MQL > SQL > Revenue) and acquisition costs need to be a focus for SaaS leaders.
  • Compartmentalize negative situations and focus on your opportunities. Find places where you can win bigger in order to offset the bad.
  • “Alter Ego Effect” - Emulate high performers who have gone through similar adversity. Being a founder is a unique and often lonely journey - find others who can coach and walk you along the way having traveled that road before.
  • Being passed over does not mean someone is a bad employee, it means they weren’t a great fit for that organization. Find diamonds in the rough by setting expectations together (e.g., work-life balance, working style, etc.).


Mason's LinkedIn

Mason's website

The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman

MFCEO Project Podcast with Andy Frisella

Real AF Podcast with Andy Frisella


As cofounder and Chief Ads Officer of Ascenditt, Mason Dorner helps startup and rapid-growth stage SaaS and e-commerce brands quickly scale and achieve 8,9, and 10 figure exits through aggressive marketing and sales strategy and execution.

He has worked in digital performance marketing for 10+ years, including brands such as Comcast and Disney. After exiting the corporate rat race he joined a local Orlando tech startup, Stax, scaling their marketing spend by over 1,000%, acquired 25,000+ customers, and grew to a valuation of over $1B under his leadership.

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