Happy B-Day to UNCOMN: Anniversary Reflections on Some Things that Matter
Twelve years ago today, I logged on to the Missouri Department of State website, paid $50, and registered Aegis Strategies, LLC as a legal entity. The fledgling company logged $70K in sales that first year and was clearly on its way…
A time or two along the way, it seemed we were on our way out of business, but Providence smiled upon us at each critical juncture. Those are sea stories for another day.
Two days ago, Inc. Magazine recognized UNCOMN (we rebranded from Aegis Strategies in 2018) as one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for the seventh straight year. We are consistently recognized as a Top Workplace and cracked the nation’s top fifty Glassdoor ratings in 2021. We will exceed $40M in revenue in 2022 for the first time and have over 200 awesome people exercising their unique brand of uncommon genius on our payroll.
I am proud to have been the face of the company for this string of successes. It’s been a fun, tilt-a-whirl ride. I’ve grown as a CEO and hopefully as a human in that time span and thought it appropriate to look back and provide some observations on business, in no particular order:
- Family Matters. When I submitted my resignation to start this company, my previous firm counter-offered with a triple-promotion—from Senior Manager to Senior Vice President. Just before accepting, Mrs. Carter intervened: “You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t give Aegis a shot.” She was right, as has happened so frequently in our 30+ years of marriage. The beautiful, faithful woman who raised five kids alone while I spent twenty years sailing the seas for months at a time, was willing to continue the I am grateful her confidence gave me the courage to do so.
- Partners Matter. I had a mentor who gave me one piece of advice: “Never take a partner.” He had grown a successful business without doing so and relished the unfettered control. Despite his advice, I took on equity partners… the right ones. Real men and women of genius who helped me make this company what it is today. Sixty percent of a $40 million company is better than 100 percent of a $5 million company. My partners have rounded out our firm, providing strengths where I have weaknesses and insights where I had blind spots. And they have become friends along the way, making the tilt-a-whirl ride that much more enjoyable.
- Military Experience Matters. For better or worse, the culture at UNCOMN in many ways reflects the experience and values of a career Navy officer. We practice command-by-negation, give “Bravo Zulus” for a job well done, award streamers on battle flags for winning company events, and too frequently curse like sailors. The Navy prepared me well to be a CEO and I encourage all companies to seek veterans on their leadership teams.
- Today Matters. A couple of weeks ago, I penned some thoughts on two-time Medal of Honor awardee Daniel Daly, who just before attacking German machine gun nests at Belleau Wood, inspired his fellow Marines with the battle cry, “Come on you sons of a bitches, do you want to live forever?!” It was his way of saying, carpe diem… seize the day. I believe strongly in living each day as if it were my last and am confident our company is better for it.
- Tomorrow Matters. Despite the successes we’ve had thus far, or maybe because of them, I firmly believe UNCOMN’s best days are ahead of us. Jim Collins indicated that leaders of companies built to last are architects at heart—designing and building enduring systems that will serve their companies not just today, but tomorrow and into the future. We’re busy at UNCOMN building enduring systems that will fuel our future growth. I can’t wait to look back at the end of 2023 and observe the progress we made over the now-ensuing sixteen months.
These are some of the things that matter to me after twelve years of leading the excellent men and women of UNCOMN. But, more than all these things, the people of UNCOMN matter most to me. I love you excellent SOBs and would go to corporate battle with any of you, anytime, anywhere. Thanks for making my job the best job in the world, and here’s to the next twelve years of corporate success!