October 18, 2017

We’re 5 Years Old!!!

Woohoo!!  We turn 5 today!!

I just celebrated my 5-year wedding anniversary with my wife, Ashley, a few weeks back and that felt like a big deal.  It was different than the previous 4 anniversaries.  It felt more important.  A true milestone.  Something to be proud of.

This is obviously quite, quite different, but similar in a certain way.

A few years back, I had lunch with a friend who was visiting town and wanted to be caught up on what was happening with Speak Your Silence.  We were crossing either the 2-year or 3-year threshold and he made a comment that’s stuck with me – something I’d never thought of before.

He said, “Yeah man, I think it’s a big deal to be in existence for multiple years.  A lot of organizations fold in the first couple years. So, when you’re around a while, people notice and think, ‘Oh, these guys are actually around for the long haul.'”

In my mind, we’d been around for the long haul since day 1.  I hadn’t even thought of a possibility of ever folding.  But, his comment opened my eyes to the importance of time and proving your commitment, in terms of leading an organization.

Well, my personal perspective hasn’t changed.  I’m still in it for the long haul.  But, I’m proud that we’re crossing this 5-year threshold.

It’s been a really challenging 5 years.  Really rich, but really challenging.

In January of this year, I had a really crummy meeting while on a business trip.  I showed up an hour late (unknowingly), I didn’t click with the person I met with, and I walked away wondering, “What the heck am I doing with my life?  Honestly.  What am I doing?”

I called Ashley and dumped a load of bummer talk on her, venting, feeling like doors simply were not opening for Speak Your Silence.  I had 4+ years invested and I was truly beginning to wonder if it was really going to go anywhere.

Not a good feeling.

I felt like quitting.  I wouldn’t have quit, because it’s just not in my DNA to give up. Not to mention the obvious fact that this cause is far too big and important.  But, I felt like quitting.  For at least a moment, anyway.

I’d been patient for 5+ years (factoring time prior to publicly launching), eyes wide open to the fact that my work is focused on a social problem that the vast majority of people have no interest in talking about (hence why SYS exists).  I’ve always known this job would be intensely challenging, and therefore, it’s required layer upon layer of sheer determination to keep pushing.  Because… I just know that our solution is the right one and will hit a critical mass after enough time and effort.

Well, that not-so-fun evening was followed by a few days of discouragement + a lot of soul searching and prayer + seeking advice from mentors.  I still believed in my gut that we were on the right path and I knew that my days of being discouraged have always pushed me to think harder and have resulted in important breakthroughs.  Down days always offer huge opportunity for forward movement.

The following week, while taking a couple days to breathe, think, and get away, doors that I had previously knocked on finally (and suddenly) began to open.

We heard back from one clothing brand we’d pitched (Velvet by Graham & Spencer), wanting to partner with us.  This was a HUGE win!  Amazing brand and huge victory in our growth. (Here’s that partnership!!)

I had approximately 40 minutes to savor this win before receiving an email from ANOTHER brand we’d pitched (I can’t tell you who, but you’ll know in coming months!), saying that they, too, wanted to partner with us!

I couldn’t believe it.  We went from (what felt like) zero momentum to a whole lot in a matter of 40 minutes time.  All while taking a necessary break, sipping coffee and chatting with my cousin.

I’ll be honest – it was one of those events that was followed by a private moment driving in my car and bellowing a loud, awkward “excitement/gratitude/relief sandwich” scream strikingly similar to Howard Dean’s infamous scream (you will not regret clicking that link!).  🙂

In fact, now seems an appropriate moment to share this intense post-high-five linger/stare-down with my buddy Eli.  We held this spot for a solid 5 seconds and we meant business, as you can see*. 🙂 (*I’ll never tell who won the stare-down.)

Anyway, after those two awesome emails, the wins have just kept coming this year!  Don’t get me wrong – it hasn’t been peaches and cream every single day (that sounds really tasty, doesn’t it?).  But, there has clearly been a major shift in momentum and we’ve finally crossed a major threshold.  I can’t tell you yet how much we have in the works (because I don’t want to blow all the surprises!), but I can tell you that we’ve had a heck of a year in terms of momentum building and future growth our reach.  It’s been SO exciting.  And I can’t wait to share it all with you guys as time goes on!  You’re going to love it!!  🙂

So, I’m THRILLED about what’s ahead!  We’re just barely getting started, and I’m not just saying that.  Our vision is to fulfill our mission longterm by partnering with some of the world’s most iconic brands, making it possible for millions of individuals to be a voice for those they love by wearing our zigzag stitch.  It’s a very, very simple concept, and it’s very, very effective. /\/\/\/\/\/\

It may seem like, “Oh, Speak Your Silence is doing great!  They don’t need our help!” But, the opposite is actually true. As we always have, we’re running very lean and getting a whole lot done on limited resources.  So, if you find yourself looking for a place to give, we could certainly use your help!

It’s been an incredible 5 years and I’m so, so grateful to each of you who has been part of this – whether in “big” or “small” ways, whether by giving of your precious time, resources, thought, or by wearing our stitch zigzag.  You’re each part of this story and I’m all the more convinced now that we truly have the greatest supporters on planet earth.  You have huge hearts. 🙂

One of the neatest quotes I’ve heard since starting SYS came from our friend Jireh in San Diego.  He told us that during his lowest point, he was surrounded by friends and loved ones who wore the stitch zigzag in support of him and his courage to share his story.  He said, “The stitch saved my life.”

THAT is what this is all about.  🙂

If you’d like to be part of this, here are a couple options:

1) Invest directly in our mission to conquer the stigma of child sexual abuse: Donate or join The Fam ($5+ per month) or The Loudspeaker ($100+ per month)

2) Be a voice for those you love the most: Wear our zigzag stitch

Thanks so much for being such a blessing!  Here’s to the next 5 years of total awesomeness (i.e. a whole lot of people’s lives changed forever!)!!  🙂



PS – After 5 years, I have yet to master the art of using few words.  Maybe by year 10*.  (*Probably not.)  🙂