It’s been a rough couple weeks to say the least. Covid-19 has changed everyone’s lives in what seemed like a blink of an eye. Before I begin with a light-hearted tale, I want to wish everyone our thoughts and prayers, and send the message that we are all in this together. Stay strong.
Now, push that depressing stuff to the side for a few moments because this week, despite whats going around us, is a special week for GCS. This week, GCS turns 7 years old. As I was thinking about this week, it reminded me of a story that I love to tell, and it’s the story I bring you today.
“I love the portraits of you guys on your website. They are very unique.”
That may be the most frequent comment I have received over the past 7 years. My partners would probably say the same. Our website, as a whole, has never been anything special. However, in forest of regular web content, those portraits are the white truffles. But the best part of those portraits are not the portraits themselves, but the story behind them and their significance in the story that is GCS lore. I share all this now because soon those portraits will be down from the website, but more on that later. Before they go, I wanted to share with everyone one of our favorite stories.
It was 2013 (or was it 2014? Eh, not important), and GCS was a new venture. We had immediate business, but we weren’t sure we still weren’t sure how legitimate our business was. Did we just get lucky early on? Can we sustain or grow? We weren’t sure. We were pretty sure that we needed a website either way, and so, I got to work.
It was just three of us at the time, and we were extremely busy focusing on billable hours, so this needed to be as minimal an interruption as possible. I searched for themes for a quick website build, and the one I chose had a page for portraits of our team. As I said, at that time, the ‘team’ consisted of the founders. One of those founders is Mike Salo, a guy who does not like taking photos. He resisted my initial request for photos, but he did gave an alternative:
Let’s get portraits done by Randy Glass.
My response was ‘Great! Who the hell is Randy Glass?’
Mike was excited to inform me that Randy Glass is an iconic artist for the Wall Street Journal who specializes in ‘hedcuts’. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, ‘Hedcut is a term referring to a style of portraiture … These iconic drawings use a variation of the traditional stipple method of many small dots of varied sizes in conjunction with minimal line.’ For the WSJ, Randy Glass has done a number of popular figures, including but not limited to, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, and Steve Martin.
At that point, I had zero thought that the idea would ever come to fruition, but I decided to shoot Randy Glass an email, mainly just to get Mike off my back. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, he answered.
But he didn’t just answer, he called me (like a Boomer does). We had a great conversation; he was such an awesome guy. Turns out, he had some time, and offered to do our portraits, and gave us a quote.
I won’t tell you the quote, but for a new company that was only spending $100 for the entire website, it definitely seemed a bit excessive for us to do. After all, a camera-shot would be free, except for the grumpiness of my photo-adverse business partner. That’s when our president, Cody Caillet, produced our first ever financial goal as a company.
Cody Caillet, CEO, Co-Founder of Gulf Coast Solutions
“If we reach x amount of revenue, we will reward ourselves with the Randy Glass portraits”
There’s no M. Night Shyamalan twist in this story. We hit that goal, and got our portraits. We also got a perfect finish to a kick-ass story that we’d eventually tell to anyone willing to listen. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we got so much more.
Most importantly, we felt our first feeling of legitimacy. We had set a lofty goal, worked a ton of hours towards that goal, and reaped the rewards. In that moment, we were successful entrepreneurs, even if that moment was fleeting. (Turns out it wasn’t that fleeting)
That brings us back to today. It’s been 7 years for GCS now. I’m not sure what any of us thought back then, but I definitely do not think we thought we’d be here. We’ve set and conquered tons of goals since then, and we’ve added over a dozen people. But it started with the three of us attempting to achieve that one goal.
As I stated above, we are rebuilding our website soon, and the portraits will not remain. We love them, but its not just the three of us anymore, and we are just as proud of this awesome team we have built as we are those portraits. Therefore, we hired a photographer, took some portrait shots, and the new website will use those photos instead.
Before we do that, I hope everyone visits the old website one more time to admire the work of Mr. Glass, especially now that you know the accompanying story.
I, for one, will frame mine for my home office to always remind me of the beginning. That day in which an already successful professional named Randy Glass, graciously gave a random person, from a no-name startup, a call back.
There have been tons of others who have helped GCS in the beginning and along the way, and I hope and trust that those people know that this story does not diminish their role in our success. Instead, I hope this story serves as an illustration that we know who you are, we have not and will never forget what you’ve done.
So I finish this with a massive THANK YOU. To the family members that allowed us to quit our jobs and start this company. To the mentors who guided us towards this journey. To the businesses who have trusted us to be part of their family, and become a part of ours. To the employees that have joined the three of us along the way to grow bigger than we ever expected. To the many more who will help us in the years to come. We can never say it enough.