I started anticipating our 20th anniversary (April 1, 2009) early in 2008. Whenever I’d mention it to anyone, they would invariably say something like, “Wow, twenty years in business. That’s quite an accomplishment.” To which I replied, “Oh, it’s not that big of a deal. Many people have built much larger companies in much less time.” I stopped saying this about halfway through the fourth quarter of 2008. As the recession crashed our anniversary party, my perspective on twenty years of entrepreneurial terror did an about face. Twenty years in business? It’s now a BIG deal!
Of course, what’s a BIG deal to the guy who started out as “an empty suit pulling an empty wagon behind me”, is no big deal at all to the rest of the world. Just how do I avoid turning my anniversary musings into a lullaby? For starters, let’s keep the obligatory trip down memory lane short and sweet.
Heartfelt thanks go out to Elaine, my lovely bride, for believing in her knight in shining armor even when he didn’t…our five children (Joshua, Emily, Ashley, Caleb, Bradley) for putting up with a perpetually distracted father…Jean Louis and Pierre for forcing the world of entrepreneurial terror upon me…Don for being Butch whenever Sundance needed clarity as to just who “those guys” were…Bud, Max, Mike and Bob for taking in a broke and broken new partner…Julie, our first client, for filling my empty suit…Jim, our first consultant, for filling our empty wagon…Holly for awarding us our first true project…Carolyn for being the banker who cared enough to cry…Max, again, for being crazy enough to partner with us second time around.
Notably missing from above is the many wonderful current and past employees of Ambassador Solutions. Time and space do not permit listing them by name, but each and every one is of immeasurable worth to our firm and to me. As one of our “Values In Action” suggests, “we are people serving people”. The ultimate measure of our success then lies in how well we have served. Thanks to employees and alumni alike who served so well over these past two decades. You truly made a positive difference in every life that you touched along the way…especially mine.
Were I to interview a guy who had just celebrated his 20th year in business, I might ask him questions about –Disappointments? Accomplishments? Surprises? Do differently? Mistakes? Funny? Sad? Turning points? Moving moments? Went right? Went wrong? Inspirations? The answers to most of these questions, though momentarily interesting, would be quickly forgotten. And, were I to wander too far down this path, I fear what readers remain would miss the true point of the journey. For you see, it’s not about measurable milestones or emotional highs and lows. It’s about being true to who you are and, even more importantly, who you are becoming for having traveled your chosen path.
Twenty years ago, I cast my lot with four men who embraced a bold concept of what being in business was primarily about. Rather than selfishly pursuing wealth at the expense of people, these men chose to pursue people at whatever expense. Given their Biblical view of the world, it was a logical choice, but far from an easy one. They truly felt called to be “ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us” (2Corinthians 5:20). In other words, they embraced the notion that God has chosen to do most of His work and communicate most of His message through His people…His ambassadors. Such a high calling is not limited to Sunday morning services and Wednesday night prayer meetings. So, these faithful men took their sometimes feeble faith where it was least expected to be found…to the marketplace. And by God’s grace, I became the fifth wheel of the divinely engineered faith vehicle that became known as “The Ambassador Group”.
Shortly after we passed our 10th anniversary milestone, I was captivated by another life-changing nugget of truth found in the Bible –“…without faith, it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6). Hmmm. This strongly suggests that no matter what one does, for better or worse, if it is done outside the context of faith in God, it cannot be pleasing to Him. Reciprocally, whatever is done by faith in God, for better or worse (even if it’s wrong), is always pleasing to Him. I began to see every day less as the sum total of the good and bad things that happened (after all, who’s to say what’s good and bad?) and more in light of those things I did by faith versus any other motive (fear, greed, vanity, etc.). When I combine this concept with Earl Nightingale’s definition of success –“the progressive realization of a worthy goal”, I realize that true success comes in pursuing worthy goals by faith in God. By this measure, I believe we’ve known significant success over the past two decades.
As opposed to answering more questions, I am compelled to close by asking our readers a few:
• Who or what do you represent when you come to work every day?
• What is your measure of success?
• How are you doing against that measure?
• How’s that workin’ for ya’? (thank you, Dr. Phil)
• Where are you on your faith journey?
Wherever you are in your personal faith journey, I want to personally thank you for joining us in ours. Though we may never meet, I know the most important things about you. You are created in God’s image…you are of immeasurable worth… and you will last forever. You, my fellow sojourner, are eternally important to God and, therefore, tremendously important to me. Thanks to Him for twenty wildly adventurous, fun, faith-filled years. I hope to share many more with you and wish you God’s best along the way.