Three Years at the Intersection of Strategy and High-Performing Cultures
Three short years ago, I left the comfort of a big consulting firm to chase the dream of building my own company. At that time, I had two clients and an incredible business partner: Colonel David Sutherland. His wisdom and guidance grounded my dream in reality and got me through those long first days and nights. No Sutherland, no THRUUE. It’s that simple.
On day one I had no team, no infrastructure, no processes, no methodology. But I had a lifetime of training to get ready for the moment coupled with the unshakeable belief that I would find a way to build something lasting, something from nothing. It was amazing to experience.
I worked out of my basement and local coffee shops. There were some long, lonely nights as I confronted the reality of starting this company. Business is a never-ending set of choices and decisions wrapped in layers of ambiguity and the cold reality of economics. Business building requires dedication, incredible attention to detail, energy, skills that span everything you have ever learned, patience, feedback, beacons of excellence to look to, and the ongoing ability to manage your deepest fears. Experience taught me that fear will consume you if you let it, so I put my fear and the critics’ voices into a big red box, closed the lid, and threw it away. Building a business is a very public thing, but it doesn’t drive fear in me—it makes be want to be a better leader. I told fear to move aside. And it’s been amazing to experience.
1,100 days have passed, and THRUUE is now a growing company. I don’t say ‘start-up’ anymore. Earlier this summer, we hired our ninth full-time employee, and we remain blessed by the talented part-time experts who deliver for our clients. We have competed against some of the biggest firms in our space. We have made some great strategic plays and have had some tough breaks. We have stood up a board that guides and pushes us with wisdom that comes through years of learning.
As a leader, I’ve made my share of bad calls, but I quickly learned more from them than from any other decisions I made in my prior career. The wildly successful CEO of a global company told me last year that he admired small business CEOs because they can’t hide from mistakes and have few degrees of freedom if mistakes pile up. His comment touched me and has made me want to be a better leader so that my team can fail fast and learn faster than any other company.
I have learned that leadership is an art, not a science. It’s way more than being a presence in a room. It is modeling the way in everything I do, being available and engaged when I’m needed, and knowing when to get out of the way of the talented people I have the privilege to work with.
I have learned that it all comes down to people. Those who join us, stay with us, deliver with us, and think with us are as precious as the clients who entrust us with problems to solve. I wake every day knowing that the talent in THRUUE has only begun to reach what it is capable of delivering. I could not be more grateful to be called the leader.
With clearly defined core values and a vision to guide us, my team and I are now dedicated to shaping a company greater than the sum of its parts. Openness is our oxygen. We never shy away from telling each other the hard truths as we strive to help our clients make their big ideas realities. While we don’t work for recognition, we live out recognition in a uniquely THRUUE way because we understand how critical it is and how much it feeds our souls. We manage to have fun, too, as we learn from and reflect on the tough problems we’re asked to solve. We reflect, a lot, and it makes a tremendous difference. I once read a pretty cool book on the subject (Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflecting Thinking in Your Organization), and now we apply it.
You are never the same person the day after you start something from nothing. Though it would be impossible to top the joys of marrying the most beautiful girl I ever met and cradling my two children in nervous arms moments after they were born, growing a company from an idea has brought me happiness, immense learning, and gratitude like nothing else.
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To all who believed in me when this started, thank you. To every client who has given us a problem to solve, thank you. To clients who have not yet given us a problem to solve, let us delight you.
If the credits rolled on the THRUUE movie right now, thousands of names would cross the screen for the wisdom, support, and hard work they’ve poured into this company. Thank you all.
Three years, and we are just getting started. Happy anniversary, THRUUE.
Authored by Daniel Patrick Forrester, Founder & CEOReturn to Blog