This year marks a special year for Intelligence Node as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. I take this opportunity to thank you for your continuous commitment to Intelligence Node, its customers, and its corporate values. You have played an integral role in helping Intelligence Node reach this important milestone.
It is particularly gratifying to be celebrating this anniversary as the future for retail analytics looks so bright. Demand for advanced data intelligence in the digital commerce sector continues to grow, and Intelligence Node is at the forefront of building new, dynamic products around the globe.
When Intelligence Node was founded in 2012 with seven employees, we could hardly foresee our growth into a global retail tech leader with Fortune 1000 clientele, award-winning products, and a workforce of 130+ within ten years! We could not have come this far without your constant support and trust in us.
Reflecting on the Last 10 Years
As we bid farewell to this action-packed decade of Intelligence Node and begin our journey into the next 10 years, I want to spend time recalling the past. It is not the successes, failures, or revenue/funding milestones achieved/missed that come to mind. Instead, I am left with a resounding feeling of GRATITUDE, GRACE, & GROWTH. And that is what my message to you is going to revolve around.
The singular greatest privilege Intelligence Node has given me is who I get to surround myself with – and for that, I am grateful. And because Intelligence Node is the fruit of an entrepreneurial, founder-led journey, I don’t think gratitude can start without me talking about my co-founder, Yasen.
Getting into a business partnership with friends is a recipe for the evisceration of friendship. It’s not that you might lose your friend when you go into a business. It’s by definition that you will! But then some rare friendships go into business partnerships defying these laws of gravity, and they don’t just sustain but actually get better with time. And these friendships are not just rare. I think they’re mythical creatures worthy of admiration.
The workforce behind Intelligence Node – As Keith Farazi puts it, ‘co-creation and co-elevation can create magic’ – we call it Intelligence Node.
10 years have passed, and it feels like a moment, or sometimes it feels like there was no life before this. And it’s been an interesting mix of colleagues, a lot of folks straight out of college – their first job, quite a few subject matter experts, and industrial leaders. And what this diverse mix of people has created together is almost a miracle we call Intelligence Node. Over the past decade, you have taken an unnamed grass seedling and nurtured it into a flourishing sapling that’s defining its own pedigree, becoming a go-to name for digital commerce enablement globally.
Our investors – While their primary role was to give us the capital and keep us in check, ours went on to become mentors, friends, and my personal therapists. Apart from trusting us with the money, they were always here to support the vision and the dreams that we were building.
And our partners – Customers and vendors: Each time one of you agrees to do business with us, it is a reaffirmation of two things –
- We were not entirely crazy to start this … the word ‘entirely’ is key here!
- It is a big boost for us to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation on our path to democratizing digital commerce decision-making! (and never wandering from the vision)
Apart from the Intelligence Node fraternity, a huge shout out to everyone’s families who entrusted the futures of their loved ones in our hands.
My segment on gratitude would remain incomplete without expressing my gratitude for two people closest to my heart, who have willingly joined me on my journey and have had my back through thick and thin –
My wife: Being married to an entrepreneur must not be the easiest thing. Volatility isn’t a phase or intermittent turbulence. It is the whole journey, or in my case, the personality! Thank you for bearing with me! My daughter: 10 years of playing this role did have its complacency complications. Then, you arrived, and your curiosity and inquisitiveness re-energized my own thirst for knowledge! Keep me honest!
I always thought grace was in swallowing all your fears/insecurities, wearing your shield of narcissism, and marching ahead – so you look like you are the one in control!
Let me support this thought with an analogy featuring ducks – ducks are very similar to entrepreneurs. They remain calm and composed and seem to glide effortlessly through the water with a lot of grace. However, below the surface, they’re paddling hard just to stay afloat. I think the desire to look effortlessly successful is a common problem with entrepreneurs. I’ve met many who appear happy and collected on the outside, only to find out that they’re suffering from depression. Or have survival level issues about the business, whether they’ll make the payroll tomorrow or not. And I’ve always thought that true grace was in swallowing all your fears and insecurities, wearing a mask of narcissism, and marching ahead.
And then, it all changed when the book ‘Burn Rate’ by Andy Dunn happened to me! In this “gripping” (TechCrunch), “eye-opening” (Gayle King, Oprah Daily) memoir of mental illness and entrepreneurship, the co-founder of the menswear startup Bonobos (acquired by Walmart) opens up about the struggle with bipolar disorder that nearly cost him everything.
He draws uncanny similarities between entrepreneurial euphoria and traits of mania. Here is an extract from the book: “Manic delusions and entrepreneurial delusions, while not twins, are not unrelated. They are more like distant cousins. The capacity for one doesn’t guarantee – but can indicate – the capacity for the other.”
It taught me grace wasn’t in glorifying or suppressing/demonizing topics like mental illness or any fear/insecurity; rather, it was in embracing them – that’s true grace.
The number 10 (ten) marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. It often signifies completing one chapter of your life to start a new one. So let us assume we finished the first, highly rewarding chapter of Intelligence Node and are now embarking on the journey of the next ten promising years together. As we take our vows again / re-write our social contracts – I would ask everyone seeking growth to commit to personal change.
And I could not find a better way to onboard you to this personal change commitment than an excerpt from Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar Speech:
“Now, I have been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with and ungrateful, but so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. And I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of community.”
Here are the personal changes I’d want us to commit to and embrace together:
• Diversity – in whatever shape or form it may present to us
• Good Health – Both physical and mental health are our biggest assets
• Curiosity – Let’s never stop learning and sharing knowledge
• Empathy – There is no lack of adversity but there sure is lack of empathy and let us try to fix that
• Failure – Be bold to experiment. Failure is but a stepping stone to success
• Speed – “The only way to win against the future is to have speed and lean towards the future; if you lean against the future, the future will win … every single time” – Jeff Bezos.
Gearing Up for the Next Decade & Beyond
The next 10 years are going to be crucial for us. As we dive head-first into the future, I don’t want us to replicate what we did in the last 10 years. Instead, I want us to transcend beyond the next ten years, skipping an entire decade in between, and reach our goals 10 years early. Let’s move to the chapter of years 21 to 30, a decade early, with speed, innovation, and commitment.
Finally, I would like to sign off by saying everyone associated with Intelligence Node should be able to fulfill their own dreams in the next 10 years. This is the company’s ultimate goal, as well as my responsibility and mission!
So, let us stretch our arms wide and bring in the promise of the next 10 years!