Somehow, unbelievably, Event 360 – the company that I founded with two of my most loyal friends – turned ten years old today. It is amazing to me, and for one of the few times in my life I find myself at a loss for words.
I woke up this morning early so I could head downtown for a meeting. It took me a few minutes to remember what day it was, but it hit me while I was fumbling around the coffee maker. When I remembered, my first thought was to call a few people to say "thanks" and "happy birthday." My second thought was about my long to-do list. And maybe that's the sum total of my advice: Recognize the people you work with, and keep plugging away.
Frankly, I feel like I should write a long, thoughtful post about all the hard lessons I've learned. But as I sit down to type, I realize I don't have that list. My list is pretty short.
Here's what I've learned about business after ten years in business:
- Love what you do.
- Love the people you do it with.
Wait! I know it sounds trite, so before you move on let me offer a bit more exposition. When I write "love," I don't mean it as the kind of passive, reactive, "I hope I fall into it" love that we often think will come and seek us out in our lives. I mean LOVE in the sense of a powerful, active choice we each can decide to make every day.
To all would-be business owners, entrepreneurs, leaders, and change agents, let me tell you this straight up: What you're trying to do is going to be hard. If it weren't, you wouldn't need to do it; someone would have already solved the problem you're trying to solve, or created the product you're trying to create. Nope, let's be honest and say, wow – it's going to be hard.
And so I've learned to make an ongoing, passionate, persistent, proactive choice to fully engage with what I do. You have to choose to love your work, particularly during the challenging times. Otherwise you're going to be employed at best and miserable at worst. You're too good to just be busy. Decide to be passionate.
More importantly, you have to choose to love the people you do it with, because without them you're sunk. I know they have their faults, but let's be honest, you have plenty too. Nothing, zero, zilch gets done alone. If you can set yourself up to be the least important person in the organization, then you've achieved one of the great accomplishments of leadership.
I'm grateful for what I do and who I do it with. I wish you the same. It's onwards and upwards from here.