Happy Sunday my friend,
This last week was a big one, and so this week’s message is a long one. I hope you can hang in there with me.
When weeks like this happen and I sit down to write my weekly message to you, I’m often surprised at the things that stand out. This writing fits in that category.
I had a good week.
It started with a trip to the White House for South By South Lawn (SXSL), a White House Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action that took place from 1 – 9pm on Monday, October 3rd right on the South Lawn of the White House. 2500 people were invited to network, learn and share ideas about making this country a better place. I don’t think I need to convince you how blessed I was to get an invite, and I have Tennessee State Representative Jim Cooper to thank for that.
While there I met folks like Common, Nick Cannon, Stephen Hill (President of BET), Monique Woodward (Partner at 500 Startups), Chuck Creekmur (Founder of AllHipHop.com) and more. My network was multiplied and my mind filled with new thoughts and ideas. I can’t quite put how amazing this was into words, but I am so grateful for the opportunity.
I also sold my house which was awesome and liberating.
And finally, yesterday the Nashville SC team enjoyed the Mexican National (Soccer) Team playing against (and beating) New Zealand at Nissan Stadium. It was incredibly to see more than 40,000 soccer fans (mostly Mexican) enjoying top level soccer in Nashville. The Mayor was in attendance and the weather was incredible. It was a great day for those of us who believe that Nashville is a Soccer City.
Like I said, good week.
But the defining moment of the week for me came on Tuesday, which was the quarterly Jumpstart off site meeting. You see, at Jumpstart we take one day each quarter to bring the entire team together and put down our individual projects to focus on the big picture and how we all fit into it. We meet at the Nelson Andrews Leadership Lodge, have the entire day catered by Sifted, and Vic and I spend at least half the day laying out both the narrative that guides the company and the strategy that we will execute over the next year.
These days are always invigorating, but they take a lot of work to put on. They also detail how much work will need to happen for us to achieve our goals. And this is the point of my message to you this week. Sometimes I have great weeks like last week, where everything seems to fall down as planned like a row of dominoes. I love these weeks.
But they only happen because I’m willing to go without sleep from a White House event on Monday (legit no sleep) to deliver an all day message to my team about the incredible work in front of us for the next year on Tuesday. All I wanted was a couch all day Tuesday but nothing is more important than giving our team the clarity, direction and support they need to be successful.
It’s just a grind y’all. Taking selfies on the White House lawn was awesome, but it only happened because of a decade of mentoring, failed companies (with some successes), user group meetings, speaking engagements and hosted conferences that Rep. Cooper thought to select me for recommendation for the event.
I don’t even want to get into the work outside of my job(s) it took to sell my house. Ugh.
And while Nashville SC wasn’t responsible for the more than 40,000 people at Nissan Stadium yesterday, our role in the event was significant and meaningful. We couldn’t be more proud that in some small way all the work we’ve put in is starting to prove that Nashville belongs amongst the elite Soccer Cities in the USA.
Behind all these fun, celebratory days is years of work. YEARS OF WORK. We work years just for one day, and if we are lucky, one week. Depending on the size of the goal you are working towards, you might not ever get to see it fully realized, but only a glimpse in your lifetime. This is the most noble work.
On this note, a final word for this week…
There were a couple of things that happened this week that are way more important than me and what I just shared with you:
Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of the Caribbean, most severely (it seems) Haiti, with the death toll climbing past a thousand by some reports as we learn more. This country, rich in tradition, historical relevance and cultural output, has been beleaguered over recent decades by both political corruption and natural disasters, and is definitely on the list of countries that we as a human race need to think about helping recover for good.
Also, the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States was revealed to have exhibited misogynistic behavior that can’t possibly be considered worthy of the office he is running for (even his wife agreed with this). I’ve never made a public statement on this race because I think it’s mostly going to handle itself and I generally reserve my voice for local politics, but clearly this was a massive revelation that is rocking the Republican party and seemingly pointing to the election of the first female president in the history of our country. If this is in fact the deciding storyline, it will be a form of poetic justice for equality in political power in this country like we’ve never seen before.
I think both of these things were tough on us for very different reasons, but they represent massive challenges that we need to face.
I started the Unlikely Company with a belief that entrepreneurship can actually solve most the of the problems in the world that politics has been unable to, because the free market operates with less bureaucracy and more innovation. However politics itself is seemingly becoming one of the problems that we most need to fix.
I think that’s what SXSL was really all about. How do we empower innovators (but more importantly entrepreneurs) to start aiming their problem solving ability at society’s challenges. I am encouraged by what I saw at SXSL and I want to remind you that when we see some of the challenges we face today like the state of Haiti or our political system (especially at the national level), that these are big problems that we may not solve in our lifetime, but they must be solved.
These problems will take entrepreneurs evading all the rules with a willingness to work towards something they may never see fully happen in their lifetime. I hope you consider joining me in that number.
To the years of work that lead to a moment of celebration… on the Grind,