The "co" in co-founder

Since graduating undergraduate from St. Ambrose University back in 2001, I have had an opportunity to be a contributor to Scene magazine. And in those 15 years, I've had a chance to tell some remarkable, meaningful stories about thoughtful Ambrosians who are making important contributions to the world. 

Nearly one decade ago, I got to meet a refugee family from Rwanda who had settled in Rock Island, Illinois, and were being welcomed and assisted by students at St. Ambrose. It was one of my favorite stories, spending nearly an entire day with the family in their tiny apartment, below freezing temperatures outside, my heart warm inside at what I was experiencing as a writer and interviewee. (Read the story here.)

Thank god one of their sons knew English, and could translate for me as we talked about how they got to America, and the contributions they had hoped to make to society. 

Just a few years ago, I had a chance to document the founding of The Ambrose Academy, an initiative at the university that I personally feel has the potential to enhance the institution's academic, scholarly reputation worldwide. (Read that story here.)

That story was my Dan Brown "The DaVinci Code" wanna-be moment (for better or worse).

There are countless more stories I've loved digging into... that I've loved telling.

You see, Ambrosians are doing some darn cool things. 

They are Ambrosians who make me proud to be associated with them by virtue of my two bachelor's degrees. 

The newest issue of Scene hit mailboxes earlier this week, and I've got two piece in there--a feature on Ambrosian entrepreneurs, and the other the "definitive Brian Hemesath profile" (I've written about his work as a costume designer for "Sesame Street," "Saturday Night Live," Honeymoon in Vegas on Broadway, and "The Today Show" Halloween Costumes a few times before). 

My interview with Shane Jones, a co-founder of Fooda, for "The Art(s) of the Deal" feature, which you can read here, hit particularly close to home for me. During our interview, he said: 

People ask me why I’m not the president... the CEO. I’m not because I know my place in our company. I know the contributions I make. That’s why I call myself a co-founder. The “co” is particularly important. Because it takes more than one person’s contributions to form a company. You’re fooling yourself if you think you can do it all yourself.
— Shane Jones, Co-Founder of Fooda

Shane drops the mic. 

Because he is absolutely right. 

When Matt, Kerry and I started The Numad Group back in 2011, we started it as equals. Yes, there would be certain responsibilities that each one of us would take on, and there would also be decisions that the three of us would make together. The "co" in co-founder has been critical to our success as a firm, and especially important as we partner with nonprofit clients with unique missions and unique needs all across the country. 

The "co," you see, makes the contributions that every Numad brings to the work, well, work, because I believe each of us knows that we always have someone right next to us, ready to pitch in, to share a new idea, to question a decision, to challenge a thought, to reinforce when in doubt. And I'm not just talking about our co-founders. I'm speaking, too, about Kelly and Patrick, Kayla and Brad, and the many others who work alongside us. 

Does it make the work better? I think so. I think our clients and partners would say so too. 

And just important, I can say, personally, it has made me a better person.

A better colleague.

A better partner.

And a better friend. 

2016 is just around the corner (I mean, seriously, where did this year go?). As we look toward the New Year, I personally look forward to more "co" in my work, and my life. I challenge you to join me in discovering new collaborations to enhance whatever it is you want to do.