Move Fast. Break Stuff. Don’t Forget to Look Around and Take It All In.

March 19, 2017 By Tom


That was the grant we were awarded this week from Lilly Endowment, Inc.


That is more revenue than the first 3 years Nine13 existed. It’s more than what we brought in for the entirety of 2016.


That gets 20,000 new Kids Riding Bikes participants over the next 2 years.

This is about the future. A future that looks a bit more stable for Nine13. A future that allows us to look out over the next two years instead of the next two weeks. A chance for us to continue to make an impact and change, to continue to strive to make Indy a little bit better.

Simultaneously, this has been five years of hard work to build this thing up. Unless you have been behind the scenes, you won’t ever truly know how many days it was so very close to burning to the ground. My commitment over these next few weeks is to put together a post about what behind the scenes looked like, mainly so I can appreciate where the past has brought us.

I got the call on Thursday at 3PM and Friday I found myself in the office before 7AM prepping the equipment orders and logistics. The celebrations have been plenty, but the hard work has just begun.

I feel like I have had a huge weight lifted off my shoulders as we have spent the last year working directly on this project. It got accelerated and advanced back in January and we had known for the last couple of weeks that the final review would be on Thursday. I’ve been one big nervous ball of energy all week as I waited for that call. Fortunately, I was surrounded my friends as it came in. The hug from CK, the first one who got to me after I hung up the phone, was one that I look forward to returning when he wins the Indy 500. I realized that in that moment, this was my version of the Indy 500.

I wouldn’t be here without my team. And it’s one hell of a team. Not just my actual staff, but everyone who has played a supporting role on this journey. I often try to find a word besides “humbled” when it comes to describing the entirety of this journey, but I can’t. I am so constantly overwhelmed by what you all have done for me. The amount of times I have to take a breath and compose myself or sit in my car for 10 minutes after I park to process life in a quiet setting would make you laugh.

My Banker told me to make sure I was enjoying the moment. To not jump into the process of what is next/what has to be ordered/what next deal is on the horizon.  I laughed a bit. She was right, enjoying the moment isn’t my strongest skill. I will forever be moving fast, breaking stuff, asking for forgiveness instead of permission; but this moment has been so overwhelming that for once I can do nothing BUT enjoy it.

My COO and I have a weekly Friday afternoon meeting over beer (our C-Suite meeting) that has become one of my most sacred chunks of time every week. It is where we decompress, talk about the past and the future and what needs to be done. It is where we have spent the last 6 months since we started the weekly meeting dreaming about this day. Friday afternoon we had it and we sat there and looked at one another. Took a sip of our beer. Laughed. And processed what had occurred over the previous 24 hours. We both were emotionally exhausted. We both had fought like hell to get here. The silence of that moment was the first time I processed what the meaning of all of this meant: We did it. We survived. And we’re better for it.

And guess what? There is more coming down the pipeline….this party has just begun…