Before you run away, this is not a political post – it’s about honesty, teamwork, and integrity.

I recently turned 27 – and I was a little disappointed. I hadn’t done the things I’d set out to do, yet. I hadn’t focused in on my mission, my goals, the things I needed to do to get there. Stacy (my wife) reminded me that I’d actually done a lot – most of it was infrastructure. Most of it hadn’t been very flashy.

I reflected on the things that got me here – and it was about this time that something happened in the news.

Ok, so this part is political…

A lot of people were up in arms about President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comments. Especially when a political group shows them only the portion that reads “If you’ve got a business, somebody else made that happen…” (shame on you, American Crossroads).

To paraphrase, the President was basically saying that somewhere, somebody along the way provided infrastructure, tutelage, or some other asset that helped you to fully utilize your own talents. A teacher, a friend, a loan, a construction worker – somebody did something to help contribute to your success.

Yet, one indignant jerk who received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds even claims that the President is “demonizing” small business owners by pointing out we didn’t build it all ourselves.

Nobody ever said you had to be smart to run a business, even so – it bothered me that such a simple lesson as “somebody, somewhere helped you along the way” could be so misconstrued.

This part isn’t political: it was just the start of a nation-wide lesson in the value of teamwork.

Fast forward to last night.

Michael Phelps’ 19th Olympic Medal, making him the most-medaled Olympian ever? Hard-earned in a team event.

Jordan Wieber’s Gold? Hard-earned in a team event after a heart-wrenching moment where an arbitrary rule prevented her from participating in the “all-around” individual events.

Could they have done it on their own? Hell yes – with their talent and drive. Another day, another time – it would have been in the bag for them. But not right then. Not in the moment, with those specific circumstances. One misstep. One bad turn. And they were out.

Each and every one of us has had those moments. We fall down – whether from exhaustion, lack of commitment, or just the circumstances of the environment. Almost always there is someone there to help us back to our feet.

I had help, too.

WTF Marketing (or any of the things you might choose to associate me with) is not the result of my hard work alone. I had plenty of help (and this is a very small representation). Let’s start with the people who most directly influenced what you see from me today:

Ron Zasadzinski, Laurie Macomber, Dale Daniel, and Mary Ann Frimd
Ron Zasadzinski and Laurie Macomber run Ignite Fort Collins – which was my first real introduction to the Fort Collins community. They took a shot on a guy who they had never heard of before. It was by watching these two that I figured out how to organize TEDxFoCo.

Laurie Macomber’s business, Blue Skies Marketing, was my first official client – I made my first dollar working with Laurie. When I had this idea for a $1-per-class social media group, Ron Zasadzinski spotted me the $72 it takes to start up a MeetUp Group.

Dale Daniel – who Fort Collins will soon be losing to Texas – was instrumental to the Gunslinger’s success. He shared his projector each week. He shared his insight. He recruited new members. He participated in a critical way in building the Gunslingers community – and became a valued and trusted friend.

Mary Ann brought me into the Loveland Center for Business Development, back when it was known as the Loveland SBDC, as an instructor. I was able to work directly with small business owners and hear their concerns – it sharpened my business accumen and understanding of what’s actually needed for non-techies to learn technology. The sheer impact that Mary Ann and Robin, the director, have had on my business growth and development through the Loveland Center for Business Development (let alone the entirety of Loveland’s small business owners) is incalculably impressive.

I can easily say that without any one of those four people, my entrepreneurial journey would have been much, much more difficult. Possibly, non-existant. I try each and every day to pay their investments in me forward to others in our community.

Then of course, are:

My Wife
Without whose support, none of my ridiculous flights of fancy I like to call “business” would be possible.

Mom and Dad
Dad ran his own company (and was amazing at it). Mom went from cooking up boxed mac and cheese to self-inspired gourmet meals that would make Gordon Ramsay take notice. There’s a saying in my family: we’re much better at calling the shots than following them.

Mrs. Woods – my third and fourth grade teacher and Mr. Murphy, Mrs. Petricek – my business teachers in High School
Mrs. Woods hosted “smalltown week” – for an hour at the end of the day, we learned about economics and exchange. I made jewelry (don’t laugh – you should see my dreamweavers!) and “ran my own business” for that week.

Even though I absolutely loathe doing my books, because of Mrs. Petricek, I won two state awards in Accounting. I learned businessmen didn’t have to be slick jerkfaces thanks to Mr. Murphy.

Professors Camomile and Weiss
My two favorite classes at Colorado State: Business Ethics and Advertising. Without these two gifted minds, mine would have been woefully under-challenged.

… and there are so many more.

Who has helped you get where you are today? Do they know? Have you thanked ’em?