This Crazy Game of Poker

January 25, 2015 By Tom

and I try to live my life
by this very simple rule
you can lose all your money
lose all your gold
you never lose your heart
and no one can take your soul

“That was a Crazy Game of Poker”-O.A.R.

if only this mirror could have recorded the steps along the way to this point

“This is how it’s supposed to be” were the first words out of my mouth this past week when I talked to my marketing pitch counterpart.

After years of fighting the good battles and not winning to transitioning into 2014 where we started to win little victories, the chips fell this week in ways I could never have imagined 9 months ago. Without throwing specific numbers out (we’ve got confidentiality clauses on a few of them); I closed our single largest deal ever this week, closed a grant that I’ve been pursuing for more than two years, closed a deal with another partner for additional school support and re-signed our existing bank partner for new programs.

Like any start-up, we’ve been operating on the razors edge for the last year. We had to have money continue to come in to pay for operations and if the money even remotely stopped flowing, we were going to be in trouble. That’s a scary way to operate and has aged me more than I care to think about over the last 6 months. The line between success and failure is very thin for any start-up and we are no exception.

But, the last week alone we closed enough deals to basically cover our operations budget in 2015, even if we were to not receive another penny for the duration of the year. Cash in the bank that will provide stability to my staff and myself and allow us to serve thousands of youth. Cash that highlights our growth thanks to the support of corporate and foundation partners both locally and nationally.

Now isn’t the time for me to rest on that and coast; we have so much momentum that I’ll be spending the next few months working hard to secure funding to allow us to expand Central Indiana operations to two program teams and pursue several national grants that would allow us to more quickly grow PDX operations and further our thoughts on Chicago and Seattle. I’ve raised our Central Indiana fundraising and corporate partner goals to $250,000 and truly believe that we can raise that to $400,000 or more if the chips fall into place throughout the year like they appear to have the ability to do.

there’s some quip about “not letting a flat tire slow us down, ever!” or something….

So much of this journey has been my hard work leading to the right situation, but I truly never knew how hard it was going to be to get to this point. This has been the most humbling, frustrating, magical, heartbreaking, self-sacrificing and rewarding journey over the last few years. I had someone tell me recently, “don’t say it’s luck that got you here–you’ve given everything you have to get to this point and none of that is luck based”.

(the next lines from the O.A.R. song I opened with)

But I’m not gonna quit and I’m not gonna stop
Don’t give a shit ’cause I got the drop
Johnny just got two eyes just like mine
And I’m feeling kinda funky, kinda fine

I’m so glad I didn’t quit chasing my dream, even in the darkest hours.

What’s next? I know how we’ll be shocking the world next…but you’re going to have to wait a little bit to find out.

And I know, this has been one crazy game of poker along the way, I’m just glad I always thought I had the winning hand.