During the month of December, Buddy will highlight, the Twelve Days of Fearlessness. Whether it is getting up the nerve to lace up your old ice skates with your five-year-old or conquering a halfpipe like your teenage days, fearlessness is not just situational for all- for some, it is a way of life.
The holidays are here! What a special time of year for all of us. A season for spending time with family, friends and those who make our lives the remarkable journey that they are. Each of us have our own unique stories— what makes us tick and pushes us to excellence. With that said, at the end of the day, we are all the same in our search for happiness, love and self-fulfilment.
For me, the holidays also give me an opportunity to express my gratitude to all the remarkable people in my life by letting them know how much they mean to me. Whether my family and friends or the folks who ring me up at the counter, the exchange of a heartfelt hug, a special gift or just a broad smile and a kind word, the holidays give us the chance to let those around us know we care. And just as important, it is a season to offer a helping hand to those less fortunate and in need, who are all too often forgotten at other times of the year.
Like many of you, I’ve found the holidays, and the advent of the new year in particular, as the ideal time to reflect on all of my personal triumphs, goals (met and unmet), and all of the struggles that I have encountered. For me, 2019 has been a rollercoaster ride. The year has brought moments of great joy and times of deep sadness and difficulty. These opposite emotions often colliding and conflicting at the exact same time, which is a bizarre experience.
At Buddy, our team just celebrated the holiday season with an overnight in the mountains of our home state Virginia. Our entire team descended onto Wintergreen Mountain for a day of hiking, snowboarding, dinner, cards and just a few libations. This occasion also gave us the chance to cut up and rib each other about the peculiar idiosyncrasies we each possess that are overripe for the picking. What great fun! Our team has some brilliantly creative minds, not mine, by the way, but others, who are wickedly quick with razor sharp sarcasm that cuts deep. Not hurtful sarcasm, but bites at others fobbles which bring a hardy laugh to all, including those experiencing the sting. Wonderful stuff actually.
While discussing the past year, I also want to highlight a few of the adventures our Buddy team has experienced in 2019.
Our first trip of the year was to Colorado where we had just been approved by regulators to sell our coverage. This led to a boarding and ski trip to Copper Mountain to meet with potential partners and a terrifying avalanche that almost buried two of my teammates Nick Green and Brittany Adams while in their truck on I-70. They did make national television as the avalanche was covered by Good Morning America and their half buried rental truck was featured prominently.
During this trip Charles Merritt and I also found time to participate in a fat tire mountain bike race in Leadville, CO— at night in 2 feet of snow. Neither of us had ever been on fat tire bike in deep snow and certainly never raced any bikes starting at around 10,500 which is the town elevation of Leadville. It snowed the entire time and we both finished with respectable times. As a flatlander from Virginia, I may never again experience a race in the dark through the woods of Colorado, lit only by my headlamp during a heavy snowstorm. It was a remarkable experience.
Our fearless leader Charles Merritt found himself jetting across the country on multiple occasions as part of the Plug & Play accelerator program, visiting potential VC’s and partners. He was usually fortunate enough to find time to get in some climbing, hiking or skiing.
Two of the highlights of the year were road trips from our hometown of Richmond, Virginia to the mountains of Colorado. The first included, Charles Merritt, Cezar Carvalhaes and Casey Baum. These guys drove almost non-stop the entire trip both ways. Their photos of that journey were hilarious. Stops included manning a tent at the GoPro Mountain Games, where all of the team participated in at least one event.
The second road trip involved Nick Green and I driving to Breckenridge and Vail for a couple of races. The drive was a blast and we stopped at numerous places along the way. Our first event was a MAD Racing mountain bike race in Breckenridge. I decided to compete. Now that was a mistake. Coming from sea level, having been in a car for three days, riding a rented bike and racing at around 11,000 feet was a recipe for disaster. My race time was, well, not good. I’ll leave it at that. Nick did much better in his trail run that was affiliated with the XTERRA Beaver Creek where we were also a vendor.
There were numerous other trips between Arizona for MBAA races, Colorado for Outdoor Retailer and Bicycle Colorado events, and conferences too many to mention.
Of particular note, our teammate Casey Baum completed the Leadville 100 Trail Run. If you don’t know what that is, check it out. It is one of the hardest 100 mile runs in the world. It starts from the town of Leadville and winds its way through the surrounding mountains to around 12,000 feet. Casey ran it to fundraise for Clara Inspired, a foundation he created to help raise awareness and funds for researching cures to genetic diseases, such as the one that affects his daughter. Casey finished with style and raised substantial funds for his foundation. Way to go Casey!
I also managed to complete a Tough Mudder, place 3rd with my teammate Curt Straub in the Dominion Riverrock Adventure Race, the mountain bike races I previously mentioned, make numerous climbing trips, dislocate my arm kayaking and enjoy too many trail runs and hikes to count. It was a great year to be part of the Buddy team of outdoor enthusiasts.
At Buddy we as a team also believe it critically important to give back to our community. In that regard we had a great year. Between David Vogeleer serving on the Board of RISE RVA, an organization that exposes rock climbing to inner city kids. Casey racing Leadville and his raising funds for his foundation. Cezar coaching an inner city high school wrestling team, Charles and Nick mentoring numerous startups, myself serving on a number of community nonprofit boards and our team hosting a couple of river cleans up, we are committed to making our community and the world a better place to work and play. This giveback of time, money and energy is something that we all find critically important. It’s something that makes us tick as people and brings us all together.
As the 2019 comes to a close, and I celebrate the holidays with friends, family and Buddy teammates the things we did right, the things that went wrong and ways to fix them, I also contemplate what the new year holds. I’ve made my resolutions and set my personal and professional goals.
While we can not predict the future, we can plan for what we hope it will bring. We can set our sail in the direction of our own choosing, knowing that there will be storms, squalls and strong currents, all beyond our control that will alter our course. Obstacles always present themselves, it’s how we respond to them that matter. If we didn’t charge forward, there would be no obstacles and life would be such a bore. For me is about getting outside, moving and living my life unafraid of what the future might hold. Seeking to build a better place for us all to work and live.
Enough ranting. From me and your friends at Buddy, we wish you all a wonderful holiday season and an exciting 2020 full of adventure, challenges and good cheer!