Yesterday was a hard day. Much harder for others than for myself, but hard nonetheless.
If you read this blog you might remember that back in Q1 I went through a job transition. I left my role as CEO of ReachNow after closing the mobility joint venture deal between BMW and Daimler. ReachNow would integrate with Moovel, a public transportation ticketing and management provider, to form the mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) solution within the joint venture. Moovel’s management would take over at ReachNow.
At least that was the plan.
Yesterday the new management of REACH NOW (the new brand for the combined team) shut down ReachNow (yeah, I know it’s confusing branding) laying off the team and ending BMW and MINI car sharing in Seattle and Portland. It was shocking and sudden to the communities who had come to rely on the ReachNow service, but more importantly to the team who’d worked so hard building a great company for the last 3 years.
I got the news in a flurry of text messages as a conference call informed the team what was happening. For the rest of the day I was heartbroken. Even though I left almost 6 months ago the loss was still very real.
Not long after leaving ReachNow I flew to Europe to walk the Camino de Santiago. The goal was to unplug and unwind after working so hard to build ReachNow and make the joint venture deal happen. One of the traditions on the Camino is to carry a stone with you from home that you leave on top of a mountain at a monument called Cruz de Ferro.
Almost every pilgrim leaves their stone on the giant rock pile at the base of the monument. The idea is that you’re leaving a burden behind, putting it down both literally and figuratively, to free your heart and mind for the rest of the journey. I was no different and left a stone on the snowy pile of rocks as I passed.
My stone, my burden, was ReachNow.
As an entrepreneur you pour everything you have into building a great team in the hope that together you’ll catch the lightning in a bottle that is business success. You work hard, work late and always work together. You become a special kind of family bonded through the fire of launching something completely new.
You also know it will end. It might end in the success that transforms a small company into a giant industry leader. It also, and more often, ends slowly or suddenly far short of the high goals you hoped to achieve.
For several days before reaching the mountain I’d wondered what my stone would represent. I hadn’t known when I boarded the flight in Seattle or arrived in France. Eventually during one of the many long, solitary walks on the Camino it became clear. In order to move on to whatever is next for me I had to put down what I was leaving behind. It wasn’t mine any more.
Despite being disconnected from ReachNow these months yesterday’s news brought back all the good, and tough, memories right back. I reached out to many of the team there to check in and wish them well in the aftermath of the announcement. It was exciting to see not only the resilience with which they were taking the news but to read their feedback about the teamwork and friendships they had enjoyed while part of ReachNow. They will put their own burdens down to start exciting new ventures and find growing companies to join.
I put my burden down on a snowy Spanish mountain back in April. It’s behind me now. I’m completely ready for the next challenge. Yesterday was just the final goodbye to a great company and even greater team.
Steve…. I was very moved by your writing…..how you captured what I suppose people would call ”bittersweet.” I felt what you felt with the loss as you wrote about your team. Strong and efficient teams seem rare, it is such a magical chemistry.
Thank you for this poignant blog.
Great article Steve. There may be several examples of this in life as one chapter closes and another begins. Thank you for sharing your wise perspective.
Great post Steve! Couldn’t have said it any better myself. I feel like building a company it’s like having a baby— working hard to help it grow and mature— then just having to accept that its all grown up and is making decisions for itself now. Best of luck on your future journeys 🙂
Excellent post and a bit of a tear jerker. Experiences like these are what make life richer and seem longer.
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