Jeni’s kicked off 2017, our 15th year in business, last week. My speech might be just as relevant to our country today as it was to our company last week.
I’ve lived long enough to know that the word FORWARD does not mean the fastest way from point A to point B. Forward is not a straight line. It’s much more exciting, complex, difficult, gnarly, and uncharted than that.
When I say “forward,” I mean to get closer everyday to that little point of light off in the distance. Our north star at Jeni’s is to make the most incredible ice cream in history, and to build a great company who works to bring people together and lift people up in everything we do. Why do we do it? Because we know that ice cream has the power to bring people together. And that when people come together sparks fly.
We need safe places to be yourself; where our differences are celebrated. Our differences are our strength. We’ve always believed that. This is not politics—these are values.
In 2017, this year maybe more than ever, our company, our community, our country is in need of sparks. We need gathering, organizing, idea sharing, activation. We need safe places to be yourself; where our differences are celebrated. Our differences are our strength. We’ve always believed that. This is not politics—these are values. We have to create spaces where people can get to know each other better. Where we can bridge the gaps that we all so desperately want to bridge now.
For us, getting there—moving forward—takes balancing our limited resources and weathering storms big and small. And this kind of work— building a company—is not for everyone. It’s not for the small thinkers, or the weak of heart, or the work-shy.
And it’s not for those who think that the only way FORWARD is on a neat and tight, tried and true, straight and narrow path. No. If you are doing something interesting, FORWARD is more like swerves and glides and back and forth, in and out, up and down. And over time the sum of all the points on the map leads forward.
This is true of life, too. That’s why you don’t give up. Because every one of those swerves are learning experiences—and they are the reason you have earned your right to be who you are, where you are right now.
No one can know the exact right course. That’s what brings us all together. But the more we keep going, the better we get at it all. Like explorers we make the best plans we can with the resources we’ve got today and we go for it. And when something goes wrong, we regroup, refocus, and move on. But we don’t allow ourselves to be paralyzed by our fears, we focus on what we believe is the right thing to do. And we trust that we are fit enough and smart enough to work it and rework it until it is on point.
So, here is to sparking ideas, making big goals, and swerving forward in 2017.