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Strangers on the Sideline

October 3, 2013

In 2005, when I completed the NYC Marathon, I was convinced the 3 million spectators were cheering for me.  Every time I almost stopped running, as every ache and pain settled in, there was someone cheering and often times somone yelling my name (luckily I have a very common name:) and so I kept on going.

Of course, it takes training, schedules and routines to cross the finish line of a marathon, ironman or any big event but the spectators, or strangers on the sidelines, are what really make the event.

In a startup, the strangers on the sideline are your customers and well, let’s just say if the founders don’t understand the importance of the strangers on the sideline, then they are going to have a very difficult time crossing the finish line.

My favorite part of starting companies is talking to the strangers on the sidelines.  I have made it a point to continue working in the field (running FITBuddies’ at FIT) and spend most of my “networking” time talking to people in the community who really understand the problems we are trying to solve and can provide good solid feedback, guidance and support.

But I also understand, when you are knee deep, in the middle of training, like I am now, it can be really difficult to remember how important these strangers are.  Today was a perfect reminder…

Yesterday was one of those days where I struggled to keep the hats straight.  Which event (company) was I training for?  What did I absolutely have to accomplish for the day?  As I jumped from call to call, each for a different company and each covering a different task, my head was all over the map.  This morning I work up just plain exhausted.

And then my phone rang.

It is 7am and I do not get to my phone in time for the first call.  But it rings again.  I do not recognize the number or area code and often I let VM take those calls but instead picked it up.

Caller: “Are you the owner of BuddiesInACTION?”

Me:  “Yes, I sure am.”

Caller:  “Well I am just calling you because I saw your website and saw that you run ‘health and wellness programs for individuals with special abilities’ and I just wanted to offer up any support I could.”

He was calling from Arkansas and continued to explain how he had suffered from a traumatic brain injury from a bicycle accident and is dedicated to helping organizations bring positive awareness (part of the ACTION philosophy) surrounding abilities, rather than disabilities and how important it is to not highlight injuries, such as his, but instead simply acknowledge the challenges individuals face.

He loved the positive positioning of BuddiesInACTION and was simply reaching out to show his support.

We talked for a bit about his work and initiatives and as we were ending the call, I thanked him for reaching out and taking the time to make the phone call and he then said it perfectly…

“We all have to work together for a common purpose and it takes everyone contributing in any way they possibly can to continue making positive changes so please just let me know what I can do to help.”

He pretty much summed up both Vidapost’s and BuddiesInACTION’s mission in his phone call.

And I especially have to thank him for calling at the perfect time, when I felt like slowing down, and for giving me a reminder of why we are doing what we are doing.

Cheers to the Strangers on the Sidelines for their feedback, guidance and support!

Back to work,


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From → Startups

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