Ranger Up is having it’s fourth anniversary today. Thanks to Matty for reminding me of the last four years.
“Nice f*cking plant, Nick”, Matt Phinney let out in his thick South Boston accent.
Phinney, Jorge Rivera’s striking couch and a future MMA phenom, inadvertently just walked into story time with Nick.
“That plant has monumental significance.”
“Oh yeah? How so?”
“Matty you’re about to hear the story of the two major events that finally led me to leave corporate America and do Ranger Up fulltime.”
“Please Nick, tell me more,” he waited, with bated breath.
And so it begins…
Ranger Up started as a hobby for me. When I left the Ranger Training Brigade for Duke University, let’s just say there was a “cultural shift”. Basically, 80% of the people I was now with were spoiled rich kids with entitlement complexes. To prevent a Nick killing spree, I started volunteering to teach the ROTC cadets Army Combatives and small unit tactics. I continued to do this for a while even after graduating. At one point, the cadets started complaining about not having any cool shirts to wear that were pro-military. If you were a commie-loving, tree-hugging, socialist there were hundreds of sites, but if you were a patriotic troop or vet, all you had was skulls and “Death from Above”. My buddy and I said, “How hard can it be?” and Ranger Up was born.
It was really freaking hard. Especially because to pay bills, eat, and get drunk occasionally, I was working at a Fortune 100 company. I wore button down shirts, suits, and shiny leather shoes. I attended meetings…lots and lots of meetings. I did PowerPoint presentations. It was a good company and a good job. The kind of job that makes moms proud. The kind of job young business students want to attain. The kind of job that was going to kill me. I was living in a Dilbert cartoon. I decided Ranger Up would eventually be my only job.
I worked from 8-6 at the corporate job and from 7:30-2:00 AM on Ranger Up. On the weekends, I did Ranger Up. This was my life for two years. We started getting bigger. Tim Kennedy joined the team. Kelly Crigger’s Army Times article hit and we were three times bigger overnight. We moved out of the apartment and into a warehouse. Tommy Batboy came on board and started running the warehouse. Garrett came on fulltime. We moved to a bigger warehouse less than a year after moving into the first one.
In Corporate Land, I had gotten promoted to a kind of big job that was even more meeting-centric. My boss was a great dude with well-planned visions and strategies the senior leadership would never commit to, so he was usually frustrated, which only amplified my annoyance. He would never directly express his annoyance, however, which resulted in a passive-aggressive exchange – a language I do not speak.
My anxiety was growing too. Ranger Up needed me constantly now and every time I had to work on some presentation that I knew would be changed 1000 times and ultimately result in absolutely no action, I wanted to choke someone…so I somehow convinced HR to invest in a 40×40 foot wrestling mat and started a fight club. Yes, I beat up my coworkers on the company dime. Even that did nothing to abate my need to get control of my life.
Enter the Plant
In November, right before I headed out on a weeklong business trip, my boss gave everyone in the group poinsettias for Christmas. When I returned from my trip, I saw that my plant was almost dead. My boss had a rough meeting that morning, where they killed yet another one of his ideas. Apparently, he had come out of the meeting, seen my plant on the verge of collapse, watered it, and then complained to everyone he could see that I didn’t care about the plant and that was a poor way to treat a gift. By the end of the day, everyone in my group, four other groups, the mailroom, and even the checkout lady at the cafeteria let me know that my boss was really hurt by my lack of botanical compassion.
He, however, said nothing to me. I probed. “Anything wrong?” I asked. “Nothing,” he replied. Yet, the rumors of anger continued to grumble and the jackass in me came to the forefront. I researched poinsettias. I bought the proper plant food, watered it on the proper schedule, turned it routinely for improved sunlight. I was a poinsettia growing mother-watch-your-mouth!
Christmas came and went. My poinsettia flourished. It lost its red color. It grew awkwardly high. It was still wrapped in bright red Christmas foil.
My boss asked, “You getting rid of that thing?”
I replied, “Oh no, boss! I am never getting rid of this plant! I loooooove it! I will have it as long as I live. It is the best gift anyone has ever given me.” I returned to work as he walked off with a puzzled look on his face.
Over time, more coworkers asked about it. We were now in the summer months and my plant became even more awkward sitting on my desk.
“When you getting rid of that thing?”
“Never. This plant is my favorite thing in this entire building. When I leave this company I am leaving every possession I have here except this plant. Someday this plant will be a giant bush in front of the Ranger Up compound.”
“Really? It’s just a poinsettia, dude.”
“There are many poinsettias, but this one is mine.”
“What if I steal it? Ahahahahaha!”
“I will kill you.”
“See you later, Nick.”
The poinsettia became my liberty tree, but my Boston Tea Party was coming.
Over the line, dude. Mark it zero.
It was the Strategic Planning Meeting for the Division. Our Division President, every VP, director, and person of consequence was there…oh yeah, and me. Slide after slide went by. Finally, we arrived at a poorly performing product category that had been the bane of the Division’s profitability. As the appropriate VP started to brief the President let out a scowl.
“Argh! I can’t stand this thing! I don’t want to look at it! I don’t want you to look at it! I don’t even want to show it to my wife!”
“That’s what she said,” is what came out of my mouth.
I thought it was hilarious and wasn’t remotely worried that I was way over the line. One other guy chuckled but stifled it FAST. No one said anything to me and I was still nine months away from when I planned to quit, but I realized it was time to go. I just didn’t care anymore.
The next day I turned in my resignation paperwork.
On my last day, I was picked up by Tommy Batboy on the steps of the Corporate compound.
All I had with me was my plant.
Thanks to all the Ranger Up fans out there who have supported us for so long and here’s to all you entrepreneurs out there that keep this country hungry and strong.