“At Least We Raised Some Hell”

December 15, 2014 By Tom

There is so much left to do
If we die in obscurity, oh well
At least we raised some hell

Weezer: “Back to the Shack”

Today we made official at work what I wrote about a few months back-–Nine13sports and specifically, our Kids Riding Bikes programs, are expanding into the city of Portland, Oregon. (full news here: bit.ly/1zWxmlL)

from the release: “Expansion into new markets has always been a part of our long-term business plan,” said Nine 13 Inc. CEO and Indianapolis Executive Director Tom Hanley. “We were presented with a very unique and exciting opportunity to enter the Portland market when we were contacted by Charlie Warner. While we weren’t actively looking to launch a new market as quickly as this, we believe that the time is right for Kids Riding Bikes℠ to make an impact beyond Central Indiana.”

Dreams. Visions. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Frustration. Success. Failure. Heartbreak. Knowledge. Relationships.

Those are the key words from the last year.

It’s funny, a year ago expansion was nothing but a dream and today we had to push out this news early as we have some other pending news that I hope to get out as early as the end of the week that is of equal importance for our Indianapolis market. It’s a bit of a surreal feeling to know that expansion is huge, but only part of the big picture over these next few weeks.

I just ordered a map for my office. On it, I’ll be circling:

  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Austin, TX
  • Columbus, OH
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Louisville, KY
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Washington, D.C.
  • St. Louis. MO

Only two of those cities will be crossed out immediately when I get that map. The rest will be crossed out by 2020 if I succeed in my vision. I anticipate each site having a minimum of 50,000 youth interactions per year. That’s over 600,000 youth interactions across the country.

Each one of those future expansions will only further strengthen the visibility of Indianapolis as the central hub for all of this and it being our National HQ. Each one of those future expansions holds the key to making an impact on thousands of students in their respective cities. I plan on being a disruptor in each of those markets, challenging and changing the way nonprofits operate and interact with their community. I plan on not only making noise, but backing it up with serious results.

A year ago, I never thought we’d make it to this point. 365 days ago I knew the next 12 months would define the next 10 years of my life. I had no idea if my little organization would die in obscurity or if we could finally break through the noise and the self imposed roadblocks and our own dysfunction.

I got an email today from a foundation director whom I know well asking, “do you feel like a rock star with that news coming out? I always feel that huge news like that is as close as I’ll ever get to having women throw their bras and underwear on stage since I can’t play the guitar and I’ll never be in a rock band.”

I replied with one of my favorite photos…

In 1969, the distractions behind the curtains at San Quentin–the recording crew, the film documentary crew, the shutterbugs–were disrupting the focus Johnny sought to achieve before he went onstage. Photog Jim Marshall aimed a lens at him, and immortalized Johnny’s reaction. Thirty years later, after winning a Grammy for Best Country Album, Cash took out an ad in Billboard magazine thanking “Nashville and the country music establishment for their support”–and ran the ad with this picture.

The only words in my email back to him were “I’d like to thank Indianapolis and the nonprofit community for their support from our earliest days”.

The best is yet to come. That is one promise I am confident in.