“Believe it or not, in the history of the company, this is only the second time we’ve all physically been in the same room…”
I overheard him making the comment to one of our clients. Friends as we like to call them.
He was referring to me, himself and her. Our team.
She’s a new mom, gone for a couple nights from her baby girl.
He’s madly in love, and eager to get back.
I’m just the old guy of the trio, surrounded by these two ambitious, smart, hard-working millennials.
But he was right. We’ve been at this thing a couple years now. The bootstrapped, only survive by finding and serving clients kind of thing.
It’s been hard, rewarding, beautiful, terrifying work.
And it was only the second time the three of us have been together.
We spent a full work day together. Working, trying to get better, finding ways to care about each other and our friends in more meaningful ways.
We came up with great ideas.
We were honest about the ways we’re falling short.
We reviewed the financials.
“No one is getting rich here. Yet. But thankfully, we’re all eating every month,” I joked. Kind of.
My squirrel-chasing mind kicked in after about 90 minutes, and I was ready for lunch. Or something more fun.
They were ready to keep working. So we did.
Right up until our clients showed up at the office. We told them these two were in town. And it was a cause for celebration.
Or at least a cookie and a glass of wine.
For a couple hours, we laughed, took pictures, talked and wondered why we don’t this kind of thing more often.
Right up until I left our own party to race in to our youngest daughter’s school performance. She was dressed as an owl, and had a two-line solo. So there was no chance I was missing it.
Then it was straight back to the office, get stuff cleaned up, get home to grab Brooke and take these two out-of-towners to dinner.
We ordered what you always order. Spinach dip and calamari.
And red wine.
The cork popped, four glasses got filled, and I awkwardly jumped in.
“Cheers to….well…stories, friends and having y’all here…”
“And to your work.” Brooke chimed in.
“Cheers,” the table echoed.
We traded stories about growing up, falling in love, making mistakes, making pasta sauce, growing older, having babies, chasing dreams, climbing ladders that didn’t support our weight.
The two women had steak, the two men had fish. We all had wine.
In between bites, the male millennial, the resident hipster as I lovingly call him, piped in and told a story I was involved in but didn’t remember.
We’d met in the middle of America, before our company was even a thing. Then he went west. But love for him was east.
Because of our work and my sales job to get him to join the team, he got to head east as well. Back home. To a life he wanted. Not just a job.
Early on, after he jumped on board, I guess he was texting me about heading to a family dinner with the woman he loves.
“I’ll never forget the two words you said in response…in fact, I don’t think I even replied because I knew right then how right it was…” he said to me at that dinner table.
I’d forgotten the exchange. But I’m glad he reminded me.
I looked around that table. At our little team. And then at Brooke.
The woman who has stood by me…for better and often the past few years, for worse.
And I felt, in that moment, like the richest man in the room. Even if the online checking account begged to differ.
I blamed it on the wine, but the tears didn’t stay underneath the surface. They couldn’t. They came spilling out.
“That was the most fun conversation I’ve had in years,” Brooke said after we said our good-byes and our thanks-for-everythings.
“I don’t know. I just love them. They’re so real. They’re so honest. You guys have a special thing going…”
I reminded her what I told them earlier in the day. No one is rich. Yet. At least financially. Nearing 40 now, of course I want to make a pile of money someday.
That would be cool.
But it’s taken a bunch of money-chasing over the years to realize that, from a work standpoint, that definition of richness is what I’m really after.
Work that matters. Clients we love. Families we get to see. People in our corner. A story we get to write together.
As Brooke and I settled in and started to shut it down after the long, rewarding day, a text popped in to both of us. From him.
“We’re rich,” is all he said.
“Incredibly,” I replied.