Hello and Merry Christmas.
It’s exactly four years to the day since Thoughtful was born.
This Christmas Speech more than any other has been a test of one Thoughtful’s core beliefs: HONESTY CUTS THROUGH.
For the past 3 years our Christmas Speech has been an open and honest account of our time in business. But I knew that moment when we had to reveal something close and personal about Thoughtful had yet to happen.
That single event which felt too painful to talk about in a blog and a public admission of failure. Because we’re all only supposed to talk about ‘big business wins’, aren’t we?
Well, this year ‘that’ event happened.
It was an event so big it overshadowed everything else that happened during 2010.
Sadly, in January of this year Chris stepped down as a serving Director of Thoughtful.
This was a crushing blow both personally and professionally — Chris wasn’t just a third of the workforce, he is a friend and for over the past 10 years has been central to me achieving some of my goals as a designer. He’s also graciously let me in on some of his brilliant ideas on more occasions that a I dare to remember — to coin a movie quote, (as a designer) ‘he completed me’.
There were no arguments, no solicitors, no tribunals, no acrimony and his decision to step down was taken and completed within two weeks which highlights just what a professional Chris is.
I’ve always viewed Thoughtful as period in time when the paths of 3 people were running in parallel. And I knew at some point these paths would separate when each of us wanted something different from life. But I had hoped that divergence would have happened much further down the path and we’d all be driving Porsche 911 Turbos into the sunset.
Chris’ departure has had a deep effect — and will do for a long time to come — the personal sense of failure and shame had sent me into a depression which I hope I can find a way out of soon because after 4 years I’m emotionally, physically (and possibly creatively?) at the lowest point in my life.
Thoughtful is broken and it will take time to fix.
The saddest part is it could have been avoided.
Had we been more open (and dare I say ‘honest’) about what we expected from each other on a more regular basis we could have worked through our issues. But we didn’t. And it’s for this reason we all share the blame.
I’m guessing you are reading this thinking WTF? Well, despite this feeling like a selfishly cathartic moment I hope any new start-up who reads this post will take note and look to find a way of continually discussing not just the good stuff but the bits you’d rather not talk about for fear of rocking the boat.
This may appear like a very poor tribute to a friend who’s has played an important role in getting Thoughtful to where it is today, and you’d be right, it is — but we’re all still working together on various projects, so we’ll save the gushing eulogy for another day if that’s okay?
So to coin another movie quote ‘that’s all I have to say about that’.
Thanks for taking the time to read this year’s Christmas Speech — we wish you the very best of luck for 2011.