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2014 Retrospective / Ramble

By Russ Starke on December 23, 2014

In August of 2010, our company was just shy of three years old but had grown to a size where we felt the need to start having quarterly meetings. We haven’t missed one since, and in fact had our Q4 2014 meeting last week… those end-of-year sessions tending to be high on emotion, celebration, and looking both backward and forward simultaneously.

Q4GiftSwap

Tip! It helps to elevate the mood when you also pepper in a beer/bourbon/wine swap and gift exchange

I had to look back in the archives to see when we held the first of the now 18 (!) quarterlies we’ve hosted, and when I found the original deck and opened it, it was fantastic to see both how far we’ve come and also how the same spirit present now was already present back then (and vice versa), when we were audaciously outlining what we would look like in 2014 and beyond. But what seemed audacious at the time is undoubtedly reality now, and it stands to reason that if we’re being pragmatic about our future visioning (with a touch of chutzpah thrown in for good measure), in 2020 we’ll be looking back on our comparatively quaint operation of today with the same sense of nostalgia and “oh wow, if you had only known what was just around the corner!”

Late2014Chalk

Signature chalk art from our own Mike Colibraro (coincidentally, also the Q4 winner of the “Uncle B” award!)

We do many things that other business leaders question us about on a regular basis… ranging from our incomparable benefits package to our complete transparency with clients on things like, say, our rate. We created a company where we wanted to work, one that felt worth getting out of bed in the morning to contribute to, and one doing good work that improves people’s lives. If we were myopically focused on the bottom line, we would look nothing like what we do today, we’d be nowhere near as successful (in any way you may choose to measure that), and we’d be way less proud of what we’ve become. Nothing about what we do or the people who work here is a commodity, and it is fallacy to treat it that way. Our clients know this, which is why the first ingredient in our secret sauce is long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

(eases back in the easy chair by the fire, with a dram of Laphroaig and a fez)

Ah well, friends… this is already getting long, and I could ramble on incessantly in these end-of-year/new year posts… so much to be thankful for, so many to praise, so much to say about the amazing ride that this has been, and continues to be. But maybe the best way to end would be to include my toast from our holiday party this year… because by typing it, I might actually be able to get it all out.

I’ve worked at a number of places, and I imagine you have too, that when a toast like this was being made (if anything like that ever happened in the first place), it was very apparent that the person making it was mainly congratulating him or herself, and not all of those in attendance. Well, I think it’s true of all businesses, but certainly of ours, that we are ultimately nothing other than the sum of all of us in this room. And as I look around this room, I see such amazingly talented, passionate, dedicated, caring, hilarious people… I want to thank you for the privilege of being able to work shoulder-to-shoulder with you every day.

At somewhat regular intervals I stop Carl and Brian and say to them “You’re taking a look around, right? And soaking all of this up? Because one day we will be looking back on right now and calling these “the good old days.” No doubt in my mind. And I hope all of you are also looking at those standing next to you and having the same realization. What we are all capable of together… the things we have yet to do together… it is so unbelievably exciting and validating. Thank you. So if you’d raise your glass! To our amazing clients! To 2015! And to every one of us.

Happy Holidays to you and yours, friends—and to a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2015.