Samuel P.N. Cook
Nov 21, 2021
What would you do if you had the courage to do it?
That was the question my Chief of People and Culture asked us on Friday at our quarterly team culture day.
Every quarter, we fly our entire team in from across the world (and those who can’t come join by zoom).
Our company culture is based on the principle of Courage.
Last week I wrote about Fear and Courage.
At the beginning of the session, I told the team that this is the most important day of the quarter.
Little did I know how impactful the day would actually be.
Every person in the company got up and shared what they would do in life if they had the courage to pursue it.
One shared his dream of going off grid and living in the wilderness.
Others shared their dreams of working remotely and traveling the world.
Some of them shared their dreams of starting their own business.
I made it a point to jump in and encourage them to do so when they were ready.
It’s brave to stand up in front of your boss and peers and say your dream lies outside of the company you are part of.
But I reminded them, “We are not a religion or a cult here.”
We view it as a privilege at SanityDesk to be the custodian of our team’s growth.
And as soon as they are not growing, we want to know.
If the person is committed to the vision and aligned with our culture and values, we will do whatever it takes to help them grow.
Whether that was creating a new R&D department for our most senior engineer recently.
Or it was moving one of our team members over from our success team (where she struggled) to our new livechat 24/7 support team (where she is a rockstar).
At SanityDesk, all of our clients who want to leave speak to me.
Without fail, they all tell me that ‘Your team is great,” but… (and they go on to explain whatever their reason for pausing their journey towards success in business may be).
I cannot tell you in words what a privilege it is to lead such a team of great, courageous souls.
In case you were wondering what I shared, it relates to what I wrote about more in my last post on Fear & Courage.
I said I have never had a big problem with Intellectual, Physical, and Moral Courage in my life.
But my big challenge is Emotional Courage - so I am working on this by moving in with my girlfriend and developing a committed relationship that could lead to a family.
I also spoke about some of my past challenges in this video with our culture advisor and personal development coach, Benoit.
If you want to meet our team, please watch this video we produced from our team week that we showed on culture day.
It was hard to not shed a few tears watching the team share their hopes, dreams, and funny stories from SanityDesk.
I have spent my life obsessed with the theme of courage.
It started at an early age.
There were five of us growing up in my family.
We had to compete for attention.
The angle I found early on was being interested in the news.
One of my earliest memories is watching the Falklands war on television and explaining what I thought about it to my grandfather.
This was quite an achievement, as he used to drown out the noise of us children by turning off his hearing aide.
But somehow I impressed him, and he called my father over to tell him “You should watch this one, he is quite smart.”
So I found an angle to get attention - connect with my father over current events and his love of history (he was a history teacher before he got into ministry).
This led to me reading Winston Churchill’s six volume history of the second world war.
I gave a presentation on Churchill and the battle of Britain to my class when we moved to the U.S. at the age of ten.
Recently, I have been reading the William Manchester Trilogy on Churchill’s life.
Right now, I am at the Munich peace conference, where the British Prime Minister forces the sacrifice of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia in return for “Peace in our Time.”
Of course that didn’t work out so well, and the last opportunity to stop Hitler in his tracks slipped by.
Right now, U.S. intelligence reports are showing that the U.S. and European community is quite worried that Russia is massing troops on the border preparing to invade Ukraine.
This adds another layer of complexity and geopolitical risk to the whole business climate - especially for us living in Ukraine.
Living inside of a country that is facing an imminent invasion is interesting to say the least.
Having deep relationships both personal and professional with my team makes it all the more worrying.
Having been on the other side of an invading force in the U.S. Army in Iraq, it’s quite the turnaround.
On one hand, I can surely empathize now with a population that is in the line of fire.
Also, I can also understand what it’s like to be part of a population and a footsoldier in an Army (Like the Russian Soldiers) that is being told a pending invasion is righteous and necessary.
For those who thought we had moved past great power wars, unfortunately the storm clouds appear to be gathering both here and in the South China sea.
Let’s see if the world manages to avoid a miscalculation that could kick off a large conflict that will inevitably affect all of us.
I was quite reflective last week with both our team week and the geopolitical storm clouds gathering.
Sometimes, it is overwhelming and paralyzing.
What is to be done? The easiest and hardest thing is to just keep on going.
We can’t control the currents of the ocean.
But we can be the captain of our own ship, and chart a path forward.
During our team’s culture day, I thought back to the time when I realized what I wanted to do with my life.
I had just returned home from my second tour in Iraq, where I commanded 140 soldiers during the surge.
I was studying Russian and Ukrainian history at New York University, preparing to teach history at West Point.
I had a solid 6-figure a year, secure job in the midst of the financial crisis in New York City.
But I was miserable, alone with my own thoughts and memories from the last 3 years.
I had to do something, so I started my own business and threw myself into it with abandon.
And I realized my true passion was entrepreneurship.
So I charted my path out of the Army, and got the approval to leave before my commitment was over.
I will never forget the day when my boss told me I was a traitor for wanting to leave the Army.
Here he was putting my goals and aspirations beneath the needs of the U.S. Army.
I told my team that I never wanted them to feel this way if they wanted to pursue something beyond our company.
And we mean it
And we want to enable all of you who feel the same way.
If you are stuck in a job that isn’t for you.
Or you are not working, and you are looking for the inspiration and the support to start your own venture.
This takes real courage.
You are risking yourself financially (although SanityDesk removes most of this risk).
You are risking rejection - of your ideas and your passion for your project.
And seeing things not work hurts on a deep level.
But we think that it’s important to help you with everything you need to make that effort.
From reducing the cost of getting started on the tech to nothing until you get results.
And providing you the 24/7 Live Chat support you need to figure things out with our help.
We know as an entrepreneur every second counts.
And we also have a network of marketers we are training to help you build your story and get it out there.
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