Crash the Gate

November 8, 2015 By Tom

There are days where I look in the mirror and try to figure out who the guy in the sport coat is staring back as I head out to a meeting or to our swanky office space. Those days always seem the most disorienting to me, it wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting in my home office working on the framework for Nine13 and not even knowing where to begin.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s that nothing happens when you don’t try and you’re going to have to try harder than you ever imagined to build something that never before existed.

The past couple of weeks have been the most stressed that I have been in a long time. We’ve been busting tail to get a few deals buttoned up and continue to plan for our future. I’m sure I’ve not been the most fun to be around and I’ve asked a ton of my staff as we figure out how to grow and expand without always having a safety net below our tightrope.

When I spun off Nine13 in early 2014, I decided that the one thing I was going to stop doing was asking permission to join the business version of the adult Thanksgiving table. I had to reevaluate myself and how I approached situations, instead of hoping to be invited to a committee, meeting, or event, I began to understand I had to raise my hand and simply ask for it. And I had to keep asking till I got what I needed and wanted.

It took a long time to get comfortable learning to crash the gate in the Indianapolis business world…to find a way into the discussion even when I didn’t belong and didn’t have a seat at the table.

It took even longer to get adjusted to belonging in the situation to begin with and not being an outsider.

I’ve had sponsor liaisons tell me I’m ruthless and that they realized I wasn’t simply going to go away. That even when they said “no”, I was always there with a solution to ease their concerns or an answer to that one question the deal hung in the balance over and that I was willing to do what was needed to get paperwork signed.

The amount of mistakes I’ve made to get to this point is infinite. The amount those mistakes have taught me is priceless. It’s been a humbling, nerve-wracking, and unbelievable adventure and it has highlighted why I’m so in love with my career. There’s a line from one of my favorite songs, “Love is a marathon, sometimes you puke”…and I can’t think of a better way to define the journey that this has been.

And most importantly, it’s paying off. In spades and aces. in the past 7 days, I’ve been able to finalize three deals that represent more income than we had in all of 2014. In the coming weeks, I hope to be able to talk about some bigger news that will reshape the capacity and offerings of my original vision in ways that 12 months ago, I could never have imagined.

And I’ll keep crashing the gate without regret….it goes right along with asking for forgiveness instead of permission.