Year in reviews – such tidy little wrap-ups to the year. They have been at everywhere over the past week, covering every highlight of 2016 imaginable. When I look back on year, I am thankful that we have our share of those. Going through Y Combinator, which led into closing our seed round of funding, which enabled us to build out our team and move into our very own office space. And we ended the year with the recognition as one of this year’s Seattle 10.
But for me 2016 was more about the little moments. The things that happened in the “between”. I’ve always found those to be most worthy of reflection and review.
So these are my top 5 moments of that so fully captured the year.
- PoppyHQ family holiday.
Last year there were only 3 of us and not a lot of money to spare, even for the little celebrations. So we didn’t have a holiday “party” or anything close. We were just gearing up for intensity of YC and the holidays were spent getting ready. But I promised myself that next year we would not only do something but that we’d include our families.
The thing that often gets overlooked is how much our families sacrifice for us who choose to work on something as intense as a startup. And it’s not just the hours. It’s bringing work into every part of our lives – from weekend hikes to soccer practices. It’s telling our husbands to take the kids during Sunday brunch so we can help a caregiver that’s woken up sick but has a booking later in the day.
I took this photo when it hit me that we were actually able to do it – to get our families together for a weekend of fun and rest. That we had not only doubled the team, but that we were now in a place that we could say thank you and celebrate a great year properly.
2. “This is where Mama works.”
I feel like every day is “take-my-kids-to-work” day because in this business, I’m always wearing my “mama” hat. And when I work from home, my girls are in and out of my home office. But I rarely bring them into our PoppyHQ offices and this moment captures the first time I did.
It was a Saturday and we had just finished one of our caregiver meet-ups. The girls were more interested in the screens and pens on the desks than anything else. But it was a big moment for me.
Because 2016 was a tough year to reflect on from a “work-life balance” perspective.
I was in Mountain View for my first-born’s 4th birthday (something she still likes to remind me). Our nanny has watched and dutifully recorded many a “recital” and class activity. My parents have stepped in to rescue us on countless occasions.
I sometimes wake up at 3am panicked that, in the quest for making other families moments easier, I’m missing out on all of their little moments.
Anyone who asks me about the topic knows that I don’t believe in the balance but in choosing to do one thing well and just alternating what that thing is so the overall appearance is “balance”. I am the last person to give any advice on the this because it’s a daily struggle to be startup founder fighting for the life of her company every day while also being the mama and wife I want to be to my girls and husband and the friend that I know that I’m not to all my friends.
But to have my girls just be in that space, to have them be in the place that takes me away from them for so many hours, that was a biggie for me. It’s important to me that they understand the work that I do. That it’s important that I do it. That they know I am good at it and I’m proud of it.
3. Partner in crime.
The first job of a CEO is to build the team. I’ve learned that many times over but it was the most true when it was just me and I needed to find the right cofounder. Yes someone that had the engineering skills to build the product that I know Poppy could and will be. But more than that, a complement to me and how I see the world. Someone who shares the vision and the passion but brings their own talent and flair to the table. Miraculously I found that in my cofounder, Richerd. No more than acquaintances when we mutually decided to give this a go, we’ve been though quite the journey in the past 15 months.
This photo was taken at the Adele concert – tickets he generously treated me to, to celebrate our one year mark. It had been a particularly hard day and I hadn’t felt really like celebrating or even being out. But Richerd’s unending optimism and generosity (and let’s face it, Adele) were a surefire solve to any bad day. This moment captures my gratitude in finding someone that was willing to take a chance on me and my dream and make it something we could build together.
4. The first annual Poppies.
Working with kids is incredibly difficult but wonderfully rewarding. I know this just as a parent but also now as someone that looks for those that have the talent and the experience to be a caregiver. Our Poppies (as they refer to themselves) are a crazy diverse bunch. Nannies and therapists and teachers and camp counselors and swim coaches and dance instructors, these women and men epitomize the special group of people that were meant to be engaging with our kids. I have been so blown away by the talents of each, and it gives me renewed focus to make sure they’re being treated well and fairly in their every interaction.
This picture was taken at our first annual “Poppies”. It was an award brunch we put on for our caregivers to recognize and thank them for their service and dedication. This event was one of my personal favorites of the whole year because it went so far beyond my wildest expectations. You can’t imagine the amount of energy that can be held in one room when all of these young (and young at heart) people get together to just connect and celebrate. We gave out smaller recognitions of gratitude to each Poppy and also bigger awards for those that exemplified our core Poppy values. The whole morning proved again to me what is good when you invest in the people that invest in your kids.
5. Home sweet home.
I love our offices. It sounds silly because there is nothing really special about them (except for our awesome Poppy teal wall) and I can’t explain it. When I stand behind my desk (yup – we splurged on those IKEA standing desks, all $200), in that corner of the office, looking out on Mt. Rainier on a clear day, all I can feel is hope and optimism.
Because after a year of working out of my home and cafes and co-working spaces, we finally had a space to call our own. We finally had worked hard enough and grown big enough to justify it.
It’s a reminder to me in the most tangible of terms of what hard work and persistence can get you. This is the space that most of the mundane but vitally important work is done. Where our whole team toils in a multitude of little moments that allow us to have the big moments.
So I want to always remember what this view means.
Bonus: The people. Always the people.
I love this picture so much. Because these are the crazy people who have chosen to be on this wild journey with me. They are talented and dedicated and wicked funny (all in their unique ways). They are family to me. It ain’t pretty every day, but we push each other to do things that none of us thought were possible. This picture says it all for me.
There they are. Five (plus one!) moments that captured the essence of the whole year. Not particularly pretty or significant in their own right. But they tell the story of Poppy for 2016.
Now as we look forward to 2017 I hope for more of the same: Focus and persistence and tenacity. Daring greatly. Pride in the small wins. Humility. Trying, always trying.
And the chance to have one more day to change the world a bit more.