For the past few years, we have spent the days leading up to New Years together, and it’s becoming a fun tradition.
Hanging out with Brad and Amy is always an enjoyable experience as we have developed a deep, honest friendship between the four of us.
And Parker and Brooks love playing with each other too – they even swap toys a bunch 🙂
The thing I love most about hanging with Brad and Amy is the authentic nature of our relationship.
We don’t bullshit each other.
We speak truth to each other.
We don’t judge each other.
We completely own our emotions and talk candidly about our behavior.
Over dinner, we talked a lot about our experiences of 2014. As I looked back and talked through the events, it was obvious that it was a challenging year for me on many fronts.
It was one of those years where it felt like every day there was a situation totally fucked up beyond recognition.
And every day it seemed a little more fucked up than the last.
All of these fucked up situations were hard and they tested a number of things in my life.
They tested my leadership skills.
They tested my emotional awareness.
They tested my patience.
They tested my intellect.
They tested my problem solving ability.
They tested my personal relationships with friends.
They tested my relationships with my board and my investors.
They tested my relationships with my leadership team.
They tested my relationships with everyone on the FullContact team.
They tested my relationship with my wife.
They tested my relationships with my family.
All these tests pushed me to the emotional limit.
But in the end, I survived 2014.
And I came out the other side a better CEO, a better leader, a better friend, a better husband, and a better father.
I lost a few relationships, but the vast majority of relationships strengthened.
Make no mistake – “the crucible” is not a one time test.
It is a continuous test of the soul and it never actually ends.
One of my favorite books, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, articulates this concept beautifully; there are always new levels to ascend to.
At the end of the evening, Amy asked each of us to provide a single word or two that described what our 2015 would be about:
My word for 2015?
As our company scales and Greyson grows up, the demands on my time will only increase.
So, I am getting personal leverage on my time wherever I can.
For example – I am focusing on writing more instead of taking in-person meetings with entrepreneurs that simply want to “pick my brain” or “grab a coffee.”
I figure a few hundred hours writing on common topics is a more effective way to reach more people than 1-1 random meetings that usually cover the same ground.
I am providing everyone at FullContact clarity by providing clear accountabilities and job descriptions describing very explicitly, what success and what failure looks like for their role.
I don’t want to work with people that play the victim instead of behaving in an accountable way.
I also don’t want to work with people that have hero syndrome and don’t build machines.
I want non-heroic leaders that focus on building well-oiled machines in their respective areas.
And this is at every level of the company.
My head of sales is focused on building a sales machine that can generate revenue and meet revenue targets sustainably and reliably.
My head of marketing is building a marketing machine that just runs and acquires customers reliably, day in and day out.
My head of product is building a product organization of both people and processes that consistently churn out high quality products that our customers want.
My head of engineering is building an engineering machine that develops software that works, that stays up 100% of the time, and can scale.
My head of customer experience is building a support organization that delights customers without him personally answering hundreds of support tickets each day.
My CTO is building a team that can leverage the massive amounts of data through contact management algorithms and let the machines do the heavy lifting.
My head of business intelligence is building a world class analytics infrastructure to give people within FullContact the answers they need in an efficient manner without spending lots of time manually digging through data.
My head of finance is building a well oiled accounting and finance machine that can keep running – even if she gets hit by a bus.
I am putting my board of directors to work on various tasks, depending on their skill sets. I am clearly setting expectations for board members.
I have given our office manager very specific instructions on how to schedule my time and more importantly – how to protect my time.
At home, I am outsourcing menial tasks.
Yard work. Laundry. Housekeeping. Maintenance. Snow Removal. Accounting and Tax. Holiday lights.
I sold my Land Rover to my friend Ken. Now, I ride the bus to work every day. I use Uber if I really need a ride somewhere the bus doesn’t go, or just borrow Sarah’s car. As a result, I’ve reclaimed 90 minutes of my day.
I’ll probably re-read Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week, and find other areas where I can gain personal leverage in 2015.
Gaining real leverage isn’t easy. It can be a boring, tedious task.
Writing down job descriptions, accountabilities and success metrics for your company isn’t as fun as doing the actual job.
Delegating tasks and monitoring the results isn’t as thrilling as Just Doing It.
But, in the end, you and your company are going to be better when you continuously fire yourself from different jobs.
And your wife and family will be happier that you aren’t constantly in fire-fighting mode and have more time to spend with them.
That’s my word for 2015. What’s yours?