This week I was reminded that it was our ten-year anniversary. It was our employees that graciously pointed out the milestone and more importantly brought a bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor to the office. I opened the card, smiled, said thank you, and started thinking about all the shit I had to do by the end of the day. It was at that moment, I realized I had forgotten my laptop. On the drive to pick it up, I was happy. I had to smile. We had done something. I had to write something. Reflection is always good.
It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind that we all forget to zoom out. Typically, I will get that level of perspective only after a major milestone. All the work leading up to an installation or new module will provide a “tangible end” to what otherwise is a never-ending conveyor belt full of tasks.
It reminds me of my first real job and how that experience provided me with two cornerstones that would support my future foundation. I was a loader at UPS when I was in college. We spent all day in tractor trailers where the temperature was 10 degrees hotter than outside in the summer and 10 degrees colder than outside in the winter. That meant manual labor in 110-degree heat half the year and 30-degree cold the remainder of the time. That job illustrated the importance of “being finished”. When we arrived in the morning, there were packages everywhere and no matter how much effort we put forth, when we left, there were still packages everywhere. That type of relentless pace results in burnout and disillusionment. The only reason that I ground it out there was because of an exchange my mom had with the local UPS driver.
“My son just got a job at UPS in Albuquerque.”
“Does he like to work hard?”
“He will quit within a week.”
She let me know that night – I worked there for 3 years. Life Lesson – Tell me I cannot do something, and I will politely smile as I run past you. Sounds petty but Volante would not exist if we bent to the many people who told us we were;
- A “start-up” in an industry where that was not celebrated but a huge red flag.
- We were not going to make it because we were self-funded.
- We were not focused on volume and were too focused on quality and experience.
- We were going to get smashed by the “big dogs” in gaming.
- We were installing a product that did not exist, in a model that was not widely adopted.
I could go on and on – good thing we give negative 1000 shits about what everyone else thinks…….
We had an idea, we had our core values, we sourced our team and eventually, we found the most innovative departments and properties in the gaming industry. They demand change, they do not conform to the status quo and every meeting we have, every piece of function that we build together is better than what came before.
What strikes me is that for as far as we have come, it feels like we have only begun to develop our stride. For every enhancement or module that we add to SlotTrak, there are another 100 suggestions and ideas that are in the backlog. If Dustin had 50 developers on his team, we would still be working on a 24/7 development cycle attempting to catch up.
I was looking for validation from the outside world – I found it.
- 20% – of businesses will fail in the first 12 months or less
- 30.6% – will fail within 24 months (2 years)
- 50% – will fail within 60 Months (5 years)
- 65.6% – will fail within 120 months (10 Years)
We are now a part of the 34% that have passed the decade milestone.
As is common, you can find what you thought you were looking for, only for the frame of reference to evolve during the process. As impressive as being in the 34% is, that is not the validation that I find the most satisfying.
For ten years we have been surrounded by some of the most innovative and intelligent people who truly believe in what it is that we are doing. They work tirelessly day in and day out to ensure that they represent themselves and by extension, our company in a manner that is conducive to success. Having a front-row seat to their development and confidence is inspiring. It is the ultimate motivation. To lead a group that never stops, you better bring 5X of every facet of your role or you will lose them.
The difference between the endless work at my first job and Volante is the people I am surrounded by. People don’t buy SlotTrak, they are buying us. Our experience, Our methodology, Our delivery. In that regard, we are in the 1% of companies on this planet.
Zoom out, Zoom in – it doesn’t matter – surround yourself with the right people and everything else can be solved with resources and effort.
Stay tuned for chapter II in 5 more years……