A piece of Princeton.
I have been struggling lately with a number of things as this brand gets off the ground. As I have mentioned, Wisconsin is an extremely tough state to start a company in. According to the people that make their living measuring such things, even while start-ups are on the rise nationwide, Wisconsin ranked dead last for new businesses in 2016. It’s surprising, but it’s true. The lack of access to capital—both intellectual and financial—is a fact of life here. While once upon a time, Wisconsin was a manufacturing powerhouse, a race-to-the-bottom mentality has resulted in so many companies outsourcing their production to foreign shores that my state seems to have forgotten how to foster new businesses, and many have given up trying. The infrastructure necessary to support new business just doesn’t exist here anymore. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to start a new company in Wisconsin these days, just that everything’s harder about doing it now. It’s always slower going when you decide to swim against the current, but sometimes that’s the path you have to take to get where you know you need to be. Even when you know the challenges going in, that constant, exhausting battle can occasionally pull you down. Last Friday was one of those days when I found it hard to go on.
A Black Friday
It had been, to say the very least, a long week. I awoke from an uneasy sleep and found myself entertaining the idea of staying right there. I usually pop out of bed automatically at 5:00 a.m. already mentally running through the day ahead of me but on this day, I woke up wanting to quit. It happens to the best of us. Anyone who says different is lying. In that vulnerable moment, I turned to my wife, my helpmate, my life-partner Beth, and told her of the weariness and uncertainty in my heart. With a loving smile, she told me to “shut up, get out of bed, and put your big-girl panties on." She was absolutely right, of course. We’re a small shop, all of us wear many hats as we try to grow this company, and sometimes I get so caught up in all the aggravating, petty details that I lose sight of the big reasons why I embarked on this journey in the first place. Thankfully, my beautiful wife knows how to hit my proverbial Reset Button and give me a much-needed blast of perspective when I truly need it. Thanks, Beth.
Water Street - Princeton, Wisconsin - 1908 - The last time the Cubbies won!
Locally Sourced Fun
I love my little town of Princeton, Wisconsin. It’s awesome. Sure, we have our little quirks and issues but who doesn’t? I founded Princeton Audio to accomplish two primary goals:
- Build sustainable economic development in our rural Wisconsin community.
- Have fun.
You would think that having only two primary goals that I would be able to keep both of them top of mind at all times but, unfortunately, I will admit that I occasionally lose sight of goal #2. On the morning of my own personal Black Friday, I got back on track with it, and I pledge to never lose sight of it again. I WILL NOT be pushed off these principals, no matter what. Princeton Audio is a lifestyle, and I want to keep my promise, to bring jobs here, and make the PA lifestyle available to anyone and everyone of like mind. That means: HAVE FUN.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re obsessively focused on something that you start seeing the universe harmonizing around it? After my morning epiphany, I settled down for a cup of coffee and popped up the laptop to check my email, and the first thing I see is this great quote on LinkedIn from one of my contacts:
Life lessons from Christopher Walken: "None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else."
How inspirational. It was like someone or something was tapping on my shoulder, reminding me above all to have fun. The rest is not up to me. My perspective switched immediately and the “Amens” just continued to snowball from there, growing in number as the day went on. I met with real people who care about what we are attempting to do and are rooting for our success, who want to help, because they care about Princeton the way I care about it and we all realize this is bigger than any one us. My day wound down to a few New Glarus beers and conversations going on with fellow shop owners in downtown Princeton, and brainstorming ways how Princeton Audio and our neighboring Water Street shops can all work together. See, this is no longer about me - it never has been and never will be. We are, all of us, doing something special together here in Princeton. There is something special happening in Princeton. Call it whatever you want—a renewed sense of community, a reclamation, a rebirth—but one thing I know for sure is that I can feel it. Can you?