I Might Be a Grownup Now

September 18, 2023

So it turns out, I might be a grownup. Even beyond that, I might even be a real CEO. A real CEO of a real company that does actual stuff. I might be running a company that does stuff I can explain to my mom. It took a short 30 years in my line of work, but there is a chance that it happened. I might possibly be an adult.

There is plenty of evidence to the contrary. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony at our grand opening, after we asked all the guests to step outside of our new showroom, I shouted out, “We Own This Mother!” before cutting the ribbon.

During our first official all-hands meeting, we gave out an award for “Worst Bass Player.” It was a 4-way tie, although we have 5 bass players on staff. Our awards were a shiny rooster on a nice granite pedestal. They were “The Golden Cock” awards. Jacob Maxwell won possibly the greatest of them as the “Least Worst Employee.”

At the biggest event of my professional career, I was wearing sandals.
Most didn’t know that I had a medical issue that kept me from wearing actual shoes, but Hood in sandals at a gala event was sort of ordinary.

On the other hand, I worked 70-hour weeks leading up to the event, drove thousands of miles and woke up countless times in the middle of the night in a panic. I made countless split-second decisions that could have long-lasting consequences. I also found out at the same time that I am indeed not bulletproof.

When the doctor looked at me with a frightening face on a Saturday and said, “You need to get in an MRI tube NOW!” that was the moment I realized I might be a grownup. During all this commotion, I found out I have an issue that can and will be corrected. It is not life-threatening. It probably won’t really affect my workload (Marie might disagree). But in the week leading up to and during the event, I was in agony. I couldn’t walk more than five feet without sitting. These are grownup things.

I can tell you what might be the greatest pain reliever I have ever experienced though: when I stood in front of my team to deliver our company keynote, I looked out at 29 of the most magical people I have ever met. It was clear that I was looking at future leaders, brilliant minds that are going to change what our industry looks like – maybe even more. I talk for a living. Some (my wife) might say that I chitty-chat for money. But looking at this particular group, I was unable to speak clearly. What I had planned to say came out in a jumbled mess. I was overcome with emotion. I am as I type this right now. Tears are welling up and running down my face.

If that was not enough, YOU came to our new home.   
You came and met the folks that make my life amazing. You shared some cocktails with them. You showed up in numbers beyond my wildest dreams. You came and made all of my problems disappear. I hope each of you was lucky enough to meet all of them.  

Jack, our office manager, works mostly alone. He never misses work. He never says no to any request.

Dana Moody spends her days clawing up the information ladders at factories searching for ANYONE that will tell her the truth about your order. She won’t stop until she gets an answer.    

Our account manager team is the most eclectic and hysterical group of hard-charging work-machines ever assembled.

And then there is FarmAssist. They are our future. They have no idea that something is impossible. If you think I worry about work, think about Jacob Maxwell. One of our job sites generates $1 million a day in profits… that is unless WE fail and all the AV stops. And at that specific example, they moved Jacob’s deadline up three months in a six-month-long project. He got it done and still managed to stay engaged, All while his fiance was flying across the country to deploy a 16-camera auto-switching boardroom project, also with compressed deadlines.

If I just sit here and type about all of the things that amaze me about this group, it would be fun for me, but it would be a longer article than Moby Dick (the book, not the Led Zeppelin song that also happens to be too long).

But none of this, not one bit of it would have happened without you, our partners.
I mean YOU. If you are reading this, you are one of my favorite people on earth. If you didn’t come to The Farmhouse Grand Opening, you had a very good reason. I appreciate you even considering it.

So, this is a giant THANK YOU to everyone who has helped our firm grow into what is now the largest of its kind in history. But this is just the beginning. Unless AV gets magically easy someday, we will continue to explore new ways to help our customers and partners grow their businesses. We want to be a force multiplier for our very best friends in the world… and those friends are YOU.

I told my team that I started this company to work with my friends.  
And that is exactly what I am doing today, 24 years later.  Twenty-four is not some milestone year, but it was a cool show with Keiffer Sutherland in it. But it has been 24 years… and most of you who showed up have supported us and have been with us the entire time.  

I rarely mention our partner customers by name in this forum, but this time, it is happening. Nick Rocca.

Nick Freakin Rocca from Rocca AV himself was at The Farmhouse on Labor Day, on a lift, with a threaded rod in one hand and an Audio-Technica Array Mic in another. Nick worked and his team worked on their own time, on their own dime, early mornings before other job sites opened up, to help a friend and do and complete the impossible. His “drawings” were done by me… and the drawings were just a rambling narrative (like this article) and a giant pile of gear. If it wasn’t for Nick Rocca, I likely would be in a hospital right now. I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean I would have been the one on a lift. That would have had significant life-altering consequences, along with me doing a terrible job. So thank you, Nick. You may have saved me from some terrible stuff as I was “powering through” something that adults shouldn’t “power through.”  You are a true hero and one of the finest human beings I have ever known.

So I hope you all continue with me through my new-found adulthood journey. I might be a grownup now… but not all of the time.

-John Hood