This morning, I walked in and noticed the sign that said “Lobby Boy says:  First we drink coffee, then we do the things,” sitting next to a way-too-large picture of the lobby boy from the Grand Budapest Hotel. And I just busted up laughing.


I think that’s a good summation of the last three years. And no, I don’t mean that because we drank a lot of coffee and did the things, even though that is accurate, but really what it signifies to me is that we are a real team.

Real teams are rare. Everyone’s been on a team before, but a real team has two important differentiators. Real teams have a sense of humor together. You laugh hard on a real team, just like I did this morning. The other thing about real teams is that they don’t make excuses that burden the rest of the team. That’s it. Those are the differentiators.

Having a sense of humor and not making excuses aren’t attributes of a person, they are the actions of a person. There is an important distinction.

In the first year of this company, a client ran up a really big bill on us. It was all of our revenue for three months. We had just leased a new office and doubled our team size on the expectation that payment would come in. And it didn’t.

We could have made the excuse that it wasn’t our fault, that we didn’t get paid and that we had to let the new hires go. But fuck that. Jason and I messed up by letting the invoices lag past their due date, so it came out of our pockets. Everyone else’s salary, payroll taxes, health, dental and vision insurance and 401k matching still got paid. It almost bankrupted us. And I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean at one point we had $27. Total.

Attributes are just words. Actions are efforts that have consequences. When failure is the most probable scenario, actions are the only thing that creates the change necessary to seize success away from imminent defeat.

In that first year, it was incumbent upon Jason and me to take that action to get us to today. Now, on year three, I see a team full of action, and I’m very proud of it. I see the actions taken by every person on this team every day – and sometimes every night! – to continue moving us forward. I see a team that when they get to chance to talk to one another, they’d rather make each other laugh than blame one another for the challenges of the day.

As we’ve grown over the years, the examples set by our actions have inspired each incoming employee to take action themselves. The support we’ve shown through our laughter when things are tough has given everyone the positive perspective we need for a successful company. I’m so thankful for what we’ve done in the first three years. But more importantly, I’m excited about the future and the next generation of kernelers that we will inspire.

From Jason and I, thank you.

Joe Conway

CEO & Founder at Stable Kernel

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