We met for the very first time on a flight from Louisville to Toronto. It was a Chamber of Commerce economic development junket and the chartered flight was filled with all sorts of business and civic leaders from the Louisville area. Walking on that plane felt like a surreal grown-up summer camp on the first day. You say goodbye to your family and immediately get to know your cabin-mates for the first time. We randomly chose available seats, shake hands and let destiny take over. Little did we know this was beginning of Execuity.
We spent the following three days in Toronto listening intently, learning, contributing, and hanging out at the bar after program days. After the junket to Toronto we kept in touch and got together for coffee or lunch every few months. We were both dealing with software development staffing challenges in a city with Java issues. The conversations at these quarterly get togethers ranged from software and sales staffing to job satisfaction, and civic organizations to what-do-I-do-now-that-I’m-exiting questions. As we both navigated the choppy waters of the corporate world, we became comrades fighting similar battles on different fields.
Dayna was the first to take the leap of faith and exit the corporate world. Linda was one of the first on the list to meet up for coffee. Venturing out on her own, Dayna created a sales consulting company. She was a lone wolf who was finding success with clients. She had time to bring back her love of yoga and travel, and have lunch with her comrades. Over one of these lunches, Linda started sharing her exit plans from corporate life. Dayna was stunned. She was a lifer. 19 years. Dayna remembers thinking, hmmmmm….how can we work together? No way. She’s out of my league.
On the other side of the table, Linda was scared to death. She was considering making one of the biggest and riskiest moves of her career. What was she thinking, leaving a company that she helped grow and team members she had grown to love as family. She reminded herself of the excitement and fun she had in the early days of her career when she was part of building a business from early stage to over $100 million. She wanted that excitement again, but also knew from experience finding the right partner was going to be the key to success. As the conversation with Dayna progressed, she thought, hmmmmm….how can we work together? No way. She’s out of my league.
Finally, after all that talking of trying to help the other one with their business, someone said, “Can we work together?” We like to think we both said it at the same, “Jinks!” But who knows. What we do know is we talked at length about what our company would look like. Our values. Our goals. Our ambition. Our work ethic. Our families. It was awesome. It felt natural.
And then Chicago. Supporting a mutual friend at her grand opening in Chicago, we decided this was perfect timing to try out our partnership idea. Traveling with someone tells you a lot about a person and we had 5 hours to Chicago, hotel, events and 5 hours back to see if we were simpatico. A few little schedule hiccups and some unfortunate hotel accommodations tested us. Neither one of us batted an eye. We laughed at the little adversities. Bring it.
Chicago delivered us the Execuity back-of-the-napkin plan. In true Activator fashion, we wasted no time putting the details in place and getting to work. At the core of our plans were shared values. Pay it forward to other women and professionals with a reach of the hand to pull you up. Creating jobs. Celebrating customer victories. Working with people we like. Servant leadership. Health, fun, humor, hard work.
Fast forward six months and we have 3 of our clients recognized as one of Louisville’s Hot Dozen new companies, a sweet office, two new colleagues, the greatest clients we could ask for, jobs created, profits for ourselves and our customers, people connected, and having a total blast along the way. We bike to work, we run and walk downtown and along the river, we hit the YMCA on 2nd Street, we host AWOL happy hours, we sponsor and donate, we attend and show up, we hold our clients hands and run triumphantly to the finish line. This is Execuity.
This is what we imagined and so much more. BOOM!
– Dayna & Linda