Making your bed in the morning gives you a sense of accomplishment. It makes you feel like you can seize the day and take on new challenges. But to me, it means so much more than that.
Our business fundamentally shifted in October 2018 after we launched Groups. All of a sudden, communities within communities started forming and the most engaged one by far was Carleton football. They even launched a 4 for 40 mentorship program on Homi, where four years of Carleton football would help you for the next 40 years of your career.
One of the people who joined was John Winter, a ‘85 Economics grad who played wide receiver and went on to become the CEO of Barclays Corporate Bank. We got on a call with John and I mentioned the fact that he had helped me get a foot in the door at Barclays 5 years ago when he was working there. I don’t think he actually remembered talking to me, but that was a moment that sparked Homi. John invested in our pre-seed round and invited me to spend a week with him and his wife Amelia at their home in London.
I’ll never forget showing up at his doorstep on the other side of the world and feeling so warmly welcomed despite having never met him in person. Naturally, I offered my cooking skills and next thing I knew we were planning a dinner party. There just so happened to be a world class Stradivarius-playing cellist named Christine Lee staying with us as well. She entertained the guests with Bach while I cooked an 8 course Chinese meal. It was a world I’d never seen before, and I walked away from it with a renewed sense of how big the world is.
I left John’s house at the crack of dawn to catch my transatlantic flight and left the bed sheets piled up in my room. When I sent over my thank you email, John responded with a brief “You’re Welcome” and a line about how he and his wife teach their children to “Never leave work behind”.
I was devastated. I had been so obsessed with the future vision for Homi that I’d neglected the small steps it took to get there. What did that say about my work ethic, my character, and my ability to get things done? How was I supposed to build the future of campus recruiting if I couldn’t even make my bed?
And so I got back to Minneapolis and hunkered down for the winter. If 2018 was about focus, then 2019 would be about execution. We would tackle the low hanging fruit and get to profitability instead of trying to take over the world. Instead of marketing how great we thought our company was, we doubled down on delivering value for students, alumni, and companies. We created our first success story, which turned into more success stories, and are now seeing exponential growth on all ends.
Since that day I’ve been actively making my bed. I also included a sorry letter to John and his wife in our annual shareholders report, to which he responded with a video of the greatest commencement speech of all time.
Now if only my mom would believe me…
Originally published March 19, 2019