Why Nashville Part II OR “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend”
I’ve been doing a lot of business writing lately. Given the reality of my situation, co-founding a tech start-up in the middle of a pandemic and then relocating from Boston to Nashville, it pretty much comes with the territory. Even so, as someone with a (debatably) shiny BFA in creative (and professional!) writing, I’ve felt a bit distant from the idea of writing for pleasure. My first “Why Nashville?” piece was a combination of both elements of my undergraduate degree, and this is not much different, though this piece as opposed to its predecessor was completely unplanned.
Some things just happen as a catalyst. Sort of like driving home from a twelve-hour workday and hearing Loverboy’s 1981 hit “Working For The Weekend” on the radio.
Let me precede this by mentioning that prior to starting up my luxurious 2007 Toyota Corolla, Mike (founder, CEO) & I had a lengthy conversation that started with “hey, should we care more (or in Mike’s case at all) about our competitors?” and ended with an airing of all grievances and insecurities that come with founding and running a start-up company — one that also just happened to have relocated to a completely new city.
Coupled with the excitement of going against the grain, starting something that truly feels new and different, and sticking to what you believe in is the potential for a deluge of self-doubt and questioning of decision-making from high-level to the most granular, minute choices. Are we doing the right thing? Are we being so stubborn that we’re missing opportunities? Are there any moral sacrifices we’re willing to make? Are we going to be able to pay our rent in six months’ time? If I had a crystal ball and had the answers to these questions, it’s easy to say that I’d have less of these thoughts of doubt during the minutes before I fall asleep in my partially-furnished one-bedroom apartment.
Earlier in the day we came across a company doing something very similar to what we’re doing. They had a fancy website and fancy founders and fancy investors. They quite similar language as we used to describe the problem and the solution, complete with some of the same fancy buzz words. They’d just raised a ton of money. Our code is open-source. Compared to them, we’re essentially nobodies. They come from backgrounds littered with fancy accolades and titles. What I’m trying to say is, they’re fancy. They’re the brides, seemingly. Are we gonna be the perpetual bridesmaids? Are we going to throw some elbows to catch the bridal bouquet? Is the bouquet gonna hit us in the face and ricochet to some other strategically-positioned opportunist like the kid under the bleachers waiting for the foul ball to drop through the hands of the chaotic crowd grasping at some temporary glory? Are we going to be on the can when the bouquet gets thrown and miss out altogether?
Where you at, crystal ball?
Self-doubt is a fickle thing. There’s obviously some evolutionary purpose behind it. Thousands of years of ancestors who fought tooth and nail to survive, killing woolly mammoths (or some crazy shit like that) yielded me, a fringe-hipster wearing my dad’s old Sloppy Joe’s t-shirt, my brother’s old 90s flannel, and my own dirty Boston Red Sox cap, sitting in an office wondering if this is what a mid-life crisis feels like, and simultaneously being self-aware to realize I’m a lucky bastard and I’m only thirty. I’m sure those ancestors had the thought, that self-doubt. What if I don’t kill this mammoth? Am I gonna make it? Am I gonna eat…berries (berries and what else?)??? I’m not sure I want to find out. I probably am gonna have to kill this mammoth, eh? So there. That’s the metaphor. Evolution.
Anyway, we had to take a step back and figure out if we were being a bunch of idiots. Our code is open-sourced. Anyone can take it. Mike has a tech background. I worked in a start-up before, but my job immediately prior to this was assistant high school girls track and field coach. Not exactly fancy. If the fancies wanted to, they could take our hard work and use their connections to get a head start on us. Time is our primary currency, in business as in life. Are we gonna run out if we stupidly allowed ourselves to be left behind?
So many questions. So many scenarios. We talked through almost all of them. Mike said he’d rather be dead, drunk, or so drunk he may as well be dead, in a gutter before he sold out and went uber-corporate. Very punk rock. I said that even though my primary goal in life is to raise a family and be a dang-good father and husband, if I spent the bulk of my waking hours working at something I didn’t believe him, I’d run the risk of becoming spiritually dead, which, to me, is worse than being dead-dead (whatever that actually means).
So with that settled, the path forward became quite obvious. We have to stick to our guns. There is honor in doing what you believe in, which in our case is making something so great that it is undeniable. Belief manifests as reality. Luck is almost always the product of actions. Faith is a combination of those things, the outlook that come what may, whatever will be will be. We agreed to keep pushing forward. We likened Nashville to a metaphor for our whole situation. It’s not the most obvious place to go to find funding or resources or tech talent or whatever some article on Business Insider might say. But it is a place to find a home, find some momentum, and ride the wave. Come what may.
I took a look at my picture of me and my mom, and my coaches’ gift from my track team last spring, a decorated chalkboard adorned with a Mike Ditka quote: “Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal,” bid adieu to Mike for the night, and started my car.
“Everyone’s hopin’ it’ll all work out / everyone’s waitin’, they’re holdin’ out…
Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend!”
Touché, Loverboy. Touché. Funny how a song inspired by walking on a desolate beach in a heavily-populated area during some beautiful yet idle Wednesday served to be an apt metaphor.
If I just do this. If I just get through the workweek. If I just follow this script then the attention will come. The VCs will come. The money will come. The worries will subside. The self-doubt will wash away.
Where is everybody? Guess everyone’s working for the weekend.
Well, the beach ain’t closed, baby. The journey is the destination. Welcome to our perpetual weekend. We hope you’ll join us. We plan on throwing a party so big, you can’t miss it.
Just look for the big glowing pineapple. That’s us. No dress code required.