Will I do myself proud, or only what’s allowed?

September 28, 2016 By Tom

Time to write has been a fleeting thought recently. It’s been a nonstop barrage of program sites, meetings, pitches, phone calls, after hour events, and what felt like a 3 week birthday celebration all since I last wrote.

I’m sitting here in the new Speak Easy space a week before it opens to the public, amid the smell of freshly painted walls and newly laid floor mixing with the scent of old brick and history. It’s a place that immediately feels as much of a home as the original Speak Easy did when I walked into it on March of 2013.

And it’s this perch at this bar in the middle of this empty room that has me reflecting on the lifetime that has been lived since I walked into the Speak Easy that first day.

Professionally, I’m so happy with Nine13 and where’s going. It’s beyond my wildest dreams from the early days of my dysfunctional startup idea, and it’s all happened despite being told time and time again that it would never work and I would fail. Deals never get done as quick as I want, but if that’s our biggest hurdle, I’m sitting in a good place.

But, I’ve been feeling a little restless. I feel like I haven’t had a good battle in a while. I feel like everything has been going too well. I feel myself apprehensively looking over my shoulder wondering about when the bottom is going to drop out. I cringe when I see a text or phone call come across from a sponsor or donor worried that they’re going to pull the rug out from my bliss. I’m cautiously hopeful on these last few deals we are wrapping up for 2016 and already beginning to focus on what the second half of 2017 will bring and the what if’s that go with that.

Basically, I feel like things have gotten too easy for me. It’s an odd place to be standing given what the last decade has brought where nothing was easy; but I’ve always known I play the role of outsider trying to break in better than genuine insider.

And just like when I joined the Speak Easy back in 2013 with the goal of disrupting the archaic nonprofit industry in some small way, my goal and re-commitment as I sit here today is to never settle, to not rest on what I’ve done and what we’ve accomplished, on who I’ve pissed off and been able to defeat.

I’ve been on a punk rock kick (….for the last 18 years) and in the words of the Descendents in their song When I Get Old, I’m reminded about what’s important in the days, weeks, months, and years to come: “Will I still want to be someone, and not just sit around?” / “will I still kiss my girlfriend, and try to grab her ass?” / “Will I do myself proud, or only what’s allowed?”

and that last one, “Will I do myself proud, or only what’s allowed?” is my favorite.

And that’s my motto for the foreseeable future, to make sure that I’m pushing boundaries that I think are there to be pushed, to use my position to further my vision of a better Indy, and to collaborate with all the amazing people I have in my life.

So, let’s rock.