What I’ll miss, what I learned, mixed up and thrown down

What I will miss most about working at the start-up I started with my friends:

Working with friends.  When I was pregnant I lay on the floor during meetings because my back hurt so much.  No one minding when I drank the last diet Mt Dew.  Bouncing around.

I never once didn’t want to go into work. Sure, sometimes I had stuff I’d rather be doing at home, but work was fun.

Decision-making. We were in charge.

Making the wrong decision. Feeling it keenly and aware of the very real stakes with a fledgling company that couldn’t afford very many mistakes. Never doing it again.

Making good decisions. Seeing the fruit of your labor, the result of your choices in so many different ways. I did that, I got to say to myself over and over again.

Being so known. I’d worked with these people for years. I couldn’t snow them. They knew everything about me, every flaw, all the history. Such a relief to be able to be so yourself in every way.

So many jobs, so many responsibilities. I learned more about direct marketing, customer fulfillment and the tremendous pitfalls of making denim jeans than I ever would have imagined. It was like observing a billion dollar company shrunk down into hot little microcosm of 4 rooms and 12 people and seeing every aspect of the effort up close.

Learning that no one has all the answers.

The realization that ethical business is possible, that our dollars made a difference to people just trying to make a living all around the world. And realizing also that it’s hard–it does cost more to do things right.

“If you build it they will come” isn’t true.  And nothing beats tried and true direct mail marketing when you need customers to come.

Wine night.

That there is never enough money.

My commute into the office with two of the most wonderful men and friends and co-workers in the world.  What was discussed in the car, stayed in the car.

The legendary fights between one of those wonderful men and me, just because we both cared so passionately, and our areas overlapped and we were both working so hard to make it work.  (Although he *was* often limited in his understanding.)

That the skills needed to run a start-up are vastly different than to run a multi-million dollar entity.

That I can film video with zero practice or preparation.

Every leadership team needs checks and balances.

Optimism can be as dangerous as pessimism.

Customers–their gorgeous enthusiasm and support and suggestions.

That as much as I loved that company, it still was a company, not a person.  It would do me well to care a little less, love a little less.  Companies don’t love you back.  But this one…I don’t think I’ll ever learn.

Robert, Terry, Ryan, Jody, Linda, Julie, Stef, Melissa, Morgan, Katie, Don, Bill, Ellen, Tracy, Dan, Mary, Bernie, both Carols, Carrie, Rita, Small Pond, the McArthurs, Trey, and everyone else I was lucky enough to work with, learn from and will miss when I go.  I already do.

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