Saturday, August 13, 2016

Everybody Jump.

In just a month, I will get to say that I have worked for a start up for a year.  I absolutely cannot believe it's been a year.

A year ago I decided to do a few things, that I am amazed I actually pulled the trigger on.  I decided to leave my comfy job as a Project Manager at an awesome company.  I decided to let the faith and belief of what could happen take the place of a standard, reliable paycheck.   I decided to take a huge risk.

I have to say that the stars were certainly in alignment.  I wouldn't have done it without the support and guidance of my leadership training.   (shout out to John Grinnell's Advanced Coaching Group 2015).  I built confidence during that year that I really could do anything I wanted to.

But I wanted more.  I didn't know what "more" was.  Or what that looked like.  Was something wrong with me?  Did I just not like being content?  Surely, I should be grateful for where I was, why did I have a longing of more?  I knew in my heart, there was another route I was to be taking. I just didn't know what it looked like.

People would say, "You must do something you are passionate about"  I heard this.  I knew what they meant, but I had no idea what that felt like.  What was I passionate about?  I know I'm not alone when I say- most people don't really know.  I sure didn't.  I felt really embarrassed about it too.  Why don't I know what I'm passionate about?  So I just waited.  But I was listening....

I was introduced to MATI.  I loved it.  I went online to order.  I couldn't.  I read all about the history, the journey they'd taken so far, and realized there was only 3 people.  They were quality focused.  Health conscious.  New.  Innovative.  And won a huge award and investment from the founder of AOL.  Something was happening here...

And boom.  That was it.  All the parts and pieces of thoughts and wondering and confusion united.  Something I was PASSIONATE about.  Health.  Something I could contribute to in ways I had no idea.  Growing something from the ground up.  This was IT.

All of that was great and dreamy, but what about logistics?  I was 37.  I had a LOT to lose if this didn't work out.  Pay cut.  Benefit loss....and oh- 90% of start-ups don't work out.  (this is it, my gut said)  But what about money?  What about health benefits?  What about....  (just do it, my gut yelled).  But I have 12 solid years of excellent experience and my resume is awesome.  (who cares, I heard again, are you happy?)  I have nothing to fall back on.  I can't.  It's impossible.  (look forward and up, you got this)

It was a battle.  Internally.  Externally.  People thought I was crazy.  Panic attacks ensued.

And I did it.  I jumped.

We had to be scrappy.  There was only 4 of us.  There was no "department" you called because you needed something.  None of us had done any of this before.  BUT we knew people who had.  So we called them.  All of them.  And asked them, HOW.  Then trusted our gut and all of our instincts.  We ignored and rejected all negative thoughts.  (you can't do this.  it's not working.  you don't know what you're doing.  you will FAIL.)  And kept on keepin on.

And before we knew it- we had opened our own 30,000 sq ft manufacturing facility.  In 5 months.  The FIRST EVER craft energy drink manufacturing facility.  We were winning every contest we entered.  National press was coming from everywhere.  People recognized the brand, the story, our faces... people were saying they "couldn't get through their day" without our product.

It's been the most challenging, rewarding, dream catching, year ever.  And I've loved every second of it.

We stand at 19 employees now.  We have a benefit package!   We have a bomb ass leadership team who takes chances, makes hard decisions, and only the best ones for the company and it's employees.  We still don't know what we're doing sometimes, every single day.  So we're still scrappy.  And innovative.  And humble.  But we are confident, will not take no for an answer, always winning, and there for each other.  We hold each other up.  Because we all fall.  Blood, sweat and tears.  (this is a REAL thing)

And here we are. Here I am.  Looking back at this phenomenal year in which sleep fails me often.  Less now about the risk, more now about the opportunities, about what's next.  About what 5 years looks like.  And I watch new people come aboard, watch them go through the same emotional journey I did, and I smile.

All because a Duke college student had a crazy idea.

So the next time you think of something... and you hear that voice say, "No dummy, that's crazy."  Do it.  Be bigger than your thoughts and your insecurities.  Because you can do anything you want.  Teach this to your children- they can be anything they want.   They can change the world.  Always think bigger than where you are, than you ever imagined.

I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life, and I'm not even half way to where I want to be.   Where I'm going.  I'm going fast and only looking up.  Thanks to my team who picks me up when I trip.  Thanks to my family for supporting me in this journey.  Thanks to my friends who love and support me in every way they can.  I'm more grateful to myself for leaning in to this incredible opportunity and not letting my insecurities and demons get the best of me.

Are you letting yours?

Cheers to a year.  Can you imagine what the next one will look like??

I can.  :)


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