“It’s not personal, it’s business”
Whoever started that phrase must’ve been a heartless being and I call bullshit. Anytime one puts their heart and soul in to something, it becomes personal, and no one’s going to convince me otherwise.
I’ve been passionate about business and setting my ideas in to motion for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I’ve experienced some successes, but also my fair share of failures along the way. I’m here to tell you, regardless of what side of the spectrum I was on, every experience has been very personal to me.
About 5 years ago, I had to stand in front of a group of passionate employees, whom were also close friends, and tell them that failure was imminent and that no matter how hard we all tried, how cool our technology that we’d spent years building was, we simply couldn’t continue to push forward in our attempt to compete with industry giants like Disney, Nickelodeon, and Webkinz. I had to look them all in the eye, hug them, thank them, and wish them good-luck as I handed them their final paychecks. There was nary a dry eye in that room that day, and I’ll never forget the silenced shock that filled that space in our office. It was as personal an experience for many in that room as any experiences they’d had up to that point. That experience ranks in the top three of personal low-points in my life. It was definitely personal.
“Just showing up is half the battle”
For months following that somber autumn day, I didn’t know which way to turn. Regardless the motivational and forgiving posts people put on their LinkedIn profiles, I’ve experienced failure and how people look at you different during times of struggle. It was hard for me to even walk in to a coffee shop, let alone show up to local entrepreneurial events and listen to everyone tell me how much they were “killing it”. It was about impossible for me to openly talk to my friends and family about what I was going through. I love to converse, but hate sharing personal struggles, that’s just how I’m wired. I have a very open and supportive immediate family as well as am fortunate enough to have married in to a loving, hard-working family. They are ones that are not very open when it comes to feelings, so for the most part, I felt very alone.
During this time, I worked some odds and ends. I did some consulting, I helped some friends in their businesses, and starting working on an idea I had while meeting with the CEO of a local hospital around employee recognition. I’d paid ahead on rent for our office space, so I had a place to go to work, plan, collaborate, and try my hardest to stay motivated. This proved to the hardest part for me. Why? Well, even though rent was paid, utilities weren’t. So, every day I’d show up to a dark and very cold office. I’d work until my computer ran out of battery, then would walk to the Pub that was two doors down, charge my computer and get some water for me and my trusty sidekick, my yellow-lab Jaxson. (Mind you, Jaxson was having the time of his life and never once missed an opportunity to lick my face or remind me when he was bored stiff.) Even my wife would ask “why are you going to the office if no one else is there?” I’m not one that gives up easily, so I knew that I had to get up, dress up, and show up. Eventually a break would come, right? That was a long winter.
“Ok, we’re going to move forward and my staff is excited”.
Through an introduction from my friend Bob, my co-founder and I met with an executive in Iowa that instantly understood our idea and what we were trying to accomplish. He’s a very forward thinking executive and was genuinely excited by what he saw when I clicked through the demo that was put together for them. I literally spent all the money I had in my checking account to travel to Ames, IA and visit with him and his Leadership Team, grab a gas station sandwich and get back on the road to Lincoln in time to have dinner with my family praying that this was the break that I needed. Guess what? It was. Within a week of my meeting, I got a call from Brian (The CEO) and he said “Ok, we’re going to move forward and my staff is excited”. After calling my wife, I called Nick (my lead developer and now CTO) and told him “Nick, wanna come back to work?” In true Nick fashion, he was at his desk the very next day. Again, a very personal moment.
“It’s not business, it’s personal.”
Fast forward a few years: Team AMPT has built the simplest, most effective way to recognize someone in their moment of greatness. It’s such a blast, but it’s been anything but easy. In fact, there are still times it feels like we’re in the midst of an impossible mission. We’ve experienced our fair share of ups and downs, twists and turns. Each event, regardless if we perceive it as positive or negative, affects us all personally and it’s just the way I like it. We’re a group of humans that are on a mission to recognize humans during their moments of greatness – To me, and everyone else on my AMPT Team: Doing business with us is NOT business, it’s personal and we set out to prove it every day.