BTL turns 17…

I started this crazy, little experiment called BUILT TO LEAD seventeen years ago in June of 2002. In 2003 I stumbled onto Chateaubriand’s (L.P. Jack, actually) famous quote about work and life, labor and leisure, and that mastery in the art of living is all about playing with it all. 2004, my fellow builder, Larry, introduced me to some Latin. He taught me about the two latin words that translate, literally, to the English word, work. Opus entered BTL language and a piece of the melody line was emerging. That same year I began to fall in love with the idea that the foundation of our work wasn’t building your foundation. Funny, huh. I latched onto the core concept and began to write about our figurative and literal core and how they both are needed to hold us together and keep us upright.

2005 would roll around faster than expected and I began to think about giving BTL a facelift. The dark blue and very basic logo just didn’t feel like me or the band of builders that was starting to come ’round. So, mostly on my own, and with the input of a trusted few began to interview designers. Element was the perfect fit. Two years later, the new logos were born, new playbooks were authored, and as we launched this affair on a cool evening at Muirfield, I can remember feeling very satisfied that my masterpiece, at least a version of it, was being authored. I knew next to nobody knew. I knew. I knew Miss knew. I knew Larry, Pete, Doug, and Gu knew. I knew others were beginning to believe. In 2008 I knew I no longer wanted to work for public companies. They knew I wasn’t a fit for their message. I knew they didn’t like my jeans, my lack of a filter, and my lack of compromise. I knew what I wanted. My belief was getting stronger. Somewhere in this year, I knew I couldn’t go back. I knew. In 2009, my brother and best builder, Larry, went home, for eternity. I felt, in that moment, like I knew nothing.

2010 would bring me some work in STL that would serve as a catlyst for additional clarity. Opus would change from a word that we use to describe a labor of love, to a word that would describe an overarching vision, purpose, unifying strategies, and scorecard for significance. Freakin’ MAGIC. In 2011 another rewrite to the playbooks would occur. This would not be a wholesale facelift but would simply be a “missing piece” addition of 18 pages in length. This piece would bring clarity to the melody line of this massive effort called becoming BTL. OPUS, PoP, and sCORE would cement themselves in our vocabulary. These are the three we want you to want.

In 2014 Durp would challenge me to say yes to working with OSU wrestling. He wrote me a searing letter and even called me some names. Grappy and I have been building ever since. A year and some change later, Cbear (Women’s gymnastics) would become our second OSU sports team client. In 2015 David Deck would take the leap from the corporate world to joining the BTL band. He’s a lot younger than the rest of us and brought an energy and unique perspective from the big Lou. He’s like a little brother to me and a gifted builder to his clients. Young Rachael, one of David’s clients, decided to join the BTL band this past year and she makes David look like an old man. She’s serving her apprenticeship and bringing the perspective of a former Division 1 Head Coach. As if we aren’t undergoing enough of a youth movement, upon graduation last month, our son, Taylor, decided to join us too. He had interned throughout college and fell in love with the work. He’s currently apprenticing with both Gu and FD (David). He could not be built by better hands.

In 2020 BTL will turn 18 and my sense is more evolution is coming. The core, however, remains the same. The BTL band will continue to practice one on one and one on a few. We will continue to run the same few plays over and over and over again. We will not grow tired of core, opus, and pop. We will grow and nuance new ways forward. It will be hard opus. We will perspire as we sustain a worthy effort on the climb. It will be good to be with whomever God puts in our path. So, friend, why do I write this for you to read?

We, the BTL band, want you to realize that you are in the process of becoming BTL and you’re probably really frustrated with how long it’s taking and how non linear your progress. We want you to be encouraged and keep climbing. Clarity is coming and when it comes, it always feels like it should have been here all along. You can live your opus, your masterpiece, if you will. We are on our builder’s journey and we really appreciate your help. We’re grateful to be working together. I started this experiment a lone. Today, we’re a band of eight becoming all ONE. We’re a small giant serving small giants. Together we’re transforming. Always together. Thanks for seventeen good ones, friend. Time is undefeated. Make today a day lived in alignment within, with others, and toward a worthy aim. Good.

Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…

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