I am a sentimental man, and the passage of ten years causes me to reflect on the winding path that has brought me to this destination. Yet, to focus on my path is an exercise in narcissism; it’s a narrative that puts me at the center of the journey, when in fact I am just a character, one of many and not even the most essential one. And to preempt the eye-roll of – “this is just the bathos of false humility”— that signals an even more troubling brand of narcissism (the lack-of-self-awareness kind), allow me to explain.
Like most entrepreneurs, I set out on this journey with a naiveté and mania that is probably the only frame of mind that would motivate someone to actually start a business. Creation ex-nihilo should be the province of the divine, and anyone who attempts to do the same is guilty of an arrogance that borders on heresy. Unless, of course, the entrepreneur internalizes King David’s poetry, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But unto Thy name give glory, For Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.” (Psalms 115:1) A lesson probably not taught at Harvard Business School, but one that soothes, encourages and enlightens the entrepreneur and enables him to handle both success and failure, the former being more difficult than the latter.
Not that I believe that the almighty cares more for me than for business owner who was not lucky enough to survive ten years in the inferno of capitalism. Its just that I was luckier than the unsuccessful entrepreneur – strokes of good fortune that are manifest in situations, relationships and opportunities that others did not experience. For that I don’t feel privileged over others, just thankful.
And what are those situations, relationships and opportunities? For starters, it is a loving and supporting family that appreciates me for my craziness and occasional grumpiness, regardless of the size of the most recent bank statement. It is my children (and dog) who run to the door to greet their Emperor Augustus, irrespective of the many days that I tacked my business left when it should have gone right. It is my wife, who manages a household of six and a husband who is away when he is away and often away when he is at home.
How can it be about me, when I through no skill of my own found people, kind and intelligent people no less, who believed in me from day one, quite frankly before I did. First responders to the call of an opportunity who left their jobs to build something that could have easily been a shack, or even worse, a ruin.
Or my initial clients, who gambled on a fledgling agency that could only guarantee an honest day’s work and an earnest, but slightly delusional, promise that we would be deliver more than the firms against which we competed.
And then there is my business partner/big brother whose humility, kindness, integrity and friendship sets a standard that I try to live up to.
In ten years, I have been blessed to employ over 150 people and interact with hundreds of clients. My flock has doubled from two to four , while the strength they provide me has grown tenfold. So yes, I have traveled the path, and sometimes it has felt that I have done so alone, but when I sober up from my bout of self-absorbedness it dawns on me that it is the Almighty, my family, work colleagues and client partners that have been the road signs and the maps, and it is in the backseat of their respective cars that I have been chauffered on the joyride of a lifetime.