A little over a year ago, I stepped down as CEO at &yet, and Eric (at that time serving as our COO) took that position.
Just recently, I've returned to the CEO role. I've done so first and foremost at Eric's suggestion and request, yet I am also quite excited to be able to do so. (Eric has a blog post coming soon about this, too.)
I am grateful for the significant effort Eric put into this role, in the organizational improvements he made during his time in it, and I'm even more grateful that he is willing to resume carrying the responsibilities of being our COO. I have immense respect for Eric and for the work that he's done.
When I stepped down, I did so in large part because I wanted to focus on the people of our organization and work to invest in and improve things for the individuals on our team.
What I learned after just a brief time in that role is that because of the way &yet historically worked and because of the uniqueness of my place in our structure, it wasn't really possible for me to do what I'd hoped—especially as a former CEO—without undermining people, particularly Eric. I learned that as much as I just wanted to be a "contributor" and part of the team, being a former CEO and owner makes it pretty much impossible to participate in that way. I am endlessly grateful for the incredible patience Eric demonstrated as I did my best to hold back expressing my opinions and to allow him to truly lead the company.
I'm also grateful that Amy—&yet's longest tenured employee—was willing to seize the mantle of leading our "People Ops" role on the team and worked to help create a "People Team" which was able to carry out a good portion of what I aimed to do. Amy and the team who took on that set of responsibilities are amazing and I am exceedingly grateful for them.
When I departed from this role, I considered my work in the CEO role a failure. I felt that I'd not set the company up to succeed as well as I could have. I felt that my lack of focus and overconfidence in some aspects had created real hardship for people who I care about a great deal.
Now, mind you, I'm not terribly bothered by failure. There are so many good things that I can point to which are the result of difficult transitions that could be simply summed up as failures. But failing as an individual is different from failing as a leader of a team of people you care about. That's quite an emotional burden to carry around, but it's not one that I ever want to let go of. Leadership is serious business with real consequences. I'm someone who seems to only learn the hard way, but I also know that I most definitely do truly learn those lessons when I've learned them the hard way!
As I resume the responsibility for leading our company, I do so very humbly, and with a whole lot of things I've learned in reflection during the past year, and in watching and learning from Eric, whose wisdom, steadiness, and pragmatism I really respect.
I'm proud of the 8 year adventure that &yet has been—for the failures and successes both. I'm especially grateful for the opportunity to work with every single person I've had the privilege to work with in that time.
Today, I'm excited to again be leading this wonderful group of people and I’m looking forward to what we’re going to do together.
Oh, and hey, this is a really good song: