So, there I stood, in front of my whole team - it was 8am, and people strolled in for our monthly team meeting. The projectors were fired up to bring in Aleyda and other folks from around the country/globe from the SEER team. It felt like any other day, any other team meeting, people yawned a bit, you’d hear the frantic feet as they hit the old wooden steps from the few people who showed up late, peeked into the auditorium, and quietly took seats.
Our leadership team, we were prepared, and we started talking about our business lines, how they were doing, what we were doing to grow, hire, etc. We updated the team on how we did last quarter, we shared the numbers with the team, and talked about upcoming projects. Nothing out of the ordinary. We discussed new team members coming, where we could improve, again nothing out of the ordinary.
As I looked at my screen with my notes on what I wanted to cover in my evernote, there was a reminder to shout out Crystal for her 6 year anniversary. Nothing new.
So I look over at Crystal, who is the quiet spine of SEER Interactive, she’s been my rock since her first day. Here she was 7 months or so pregnant, moving into motherhood.
So I quickly said to my team, a few things I had written, but this was different, something felt weird…my stomach started feeling all weird and I could feel it.
Mentally I’m like…are you fucking serious Wil?
But I guess that is the beauty of emotion, even the toughest of us, with the most pride sometimes can’t keep em down. My nose was wet, I started sniffling as I spoke about how Crystal is a big reason why I grew SEER (I would have stopped long ago, because without leadership to help handle it, it wouldn’t have been fun). Sniffles kept coming but no one noticed. I thought I could wrap it up and get off the stage, but I had another point to make.
I started listing out some people by name and saying, hey without Crystal being here I don’t know if I would have met “you, and you, and you, and you”.
Then something started creeping up in my voice, which is often stern, direct, and has an intonation that is pretty sharp, not now. My voice was all muddled.
Then there was the last straw, I had a flashback of my recent trip to Europe with my wife and thought, that might not have happened without the comfort of my leadership team, and my most tenured member of the team, Crystal.
And then I felt the warmth of a tear roll down my cheek (Crystal was stoic, no visible emotion). Here I was unable to hold my emotions in when speaking of the impact that a person had on my life personally and on SEER and so many SEER people.
I felt kinda naked, not that my exterior is some kind of persona, even my DISC profile nails me at a person who is tough but has deep care for people, I was standing in front to 50 or so people and it was obvious that I had a bout of deeply felt emotions coming out of my nose, eye and voice.
After it was all over I joked about how no one better tweet about it before I do damn it! But that night I started wondering…was that a good thing, nothing, or a bad thing. I think that was the wrong lens to look at it. It was the right thing. It was hard to hold my head up for a few minutes after that, but it is what I felt.
I learned that this business is EXTREMELY personal to me. Crystal and many others have made major sacrifices to join me on this journey and to me that makes me thankful, DEEPLY thankful. When reading this article about the CEO of Sriracha over on Mark Suster’s blog, the thing that stood out is how the CEO looks at his business.
This quote especially stood out to me:
“This company, she is like a loved one to me, like family. Why would I share my loved one with someone else?”
So I guess that is where I am too, this company, SEER that is, is so much more to me than an enterprise that makes money, and does marketing, it took standing in front of my team and in the process of thanking someone for their contribution to remind me that yup, that feeling is still there 10 years later. It was also my gut check that, showed me and the team that this business is a lot more than a business to me.