What follows is part of a note I sent to my team near the end of 2017 to thank them for the progress we'd made. The business was going through its most challenging transition in years: declining sales, dwindling profit, change in ownership, layoffs, and multiple restructurings. This was one of the most challenging times for me professionally and where I grew tremendously as a leader.


I want to take a moment to thank you all for the hard work and dedication you put in every single day to support our incredible group. In what seemed like the most challenging and tumultuous year, you all persevered and embraced the grind with the hope of making things better. I've always had confidence that we could turn the tide with our teammates' support; I believe it's begun.

So, how do we continue making progress? In what ways do we have to change to get better? How will each person on this team contribute, in concrete terms, to making us the highest-performing team?

Be radically candid with each other. Candor must override hierarchy. Build and nurture relationships with your peers and your business partners to enable a continuous loop of thoughtful and honest feedback. Without open communication, we rob each other of the chance to experiment, fail, and, most importantly, learn from our mistakes.

Embrace change. ​Be respectful, be empathetic, and ask, "can this be done differently?" I believe change begets growth. It may be uncomfortable at times, but if real and valuable learnings result from the change, it was worth the pain.

"The challenger needs support to find its footing. Protection of the new, not the future, not the past, must be a conscious effort." -- Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc.

I have confidence in our team and our leaders that next year, with continued growth and progress, we can confidently and proudly say that we're one of the best engineering practices in San Diego (baby steps).



"And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them."-- Machiavelli - The Prince, Chapter 6