THANK YOU SPRINT!

  • AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Kansas City, Leadership, Life Lessons, Sprint Accelerator

    4 Comments

    [this thank you note is too long for a card but humor me…]

    On August 1st, 2014 I took the stage of the Sprint Accelerator to address a group of employees.  This platform and the surrounding space has witnessed countless presentations, endless nights of hard work, hilarious conversations, serious meetings, open brainstorms, raucous dance parties (there’s a video but I can’t find it…) and uncontrollable tears streaming from my face.  Right now, I was getting up to announce the winners of what would be my final #HackFriday as a Sprint employee and one of my last events in a building that had my fingerprints all over it.  I manufactured a little extra enthusiasm to counteract the swelling of my throat and cracking of my voice…

    The memories of the preceding 11 years run through my head and the overwhelming emotion of how lucky I am to have been afforded the opportunities/risks to get me where I am right at that very moment hit me all at once.  I often joke that I bleed Sprint Yellow and honestly, if you would have cut me that afternoon, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

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    In 2002 I started an informal relationship with a cute bartender at the Old Chicago in Lincoln’s Haymarket District.  I wasn’t some patron throwing down large tips in exchange for friendly conversation.  No, I was washing glasses and hoping to win a spot as her sidekick on the lucrative Wednesday night shift and maybe a small place in her heart.  I accomplished the former pretty quickly which accelerated the latter…soon we were officially dating and I was hitting the streets looking for a new job (restaurants were full of enough drama, our relationship would be much stronger outside of the walls of that building).

    I looked at my options…  I considered other establishments in town, a number of my friends and co-workers were willing to vouch for me at any one of the “O Street” bars, but I was a junior in college and it was time to set an eye toward my career.  I was currently in the J-School working on my advertising degree and loved it.  A quick check on available advertising jobs turned up a bunch of unpaid internships.  I kept looking.  Around that time I went to the mailbox, to find the first bill from my cellphone provider, Sprint.  The job hunt had my sensitivity to cash flow on red alert and there were some charges that seemed incorrect.  I marched into the local store to figure out the error.

    I unloaded on the poor sales rep who greeted me and we eventually got to the bottom of the mess…someone forgot to inform me of the state/federal fees on top of my monthly charge.  The rep was sorry about the miscommunication but I could sense he wasn’t truly empathetic to my situation, so I asked him what he paid for his phone.  He replied that sales reps get a free employee plan and I asked to speak to his manager immediately.

    After some negotiation, I walked out of the store with a job application in my hand and a couple weeks later I proudly donned a bright red polo shirt with the Sprint logo.

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    I never saw a long-term relationship with Sprint and when Stacey was accepted into law school I felt the same way about Kansas City.  I figured that she would finish up her degree and then we would be back to Omaha where all of our friends/family lived….I was wrong.

    Over the last decade I have had a lot of fun setting and achieving goals that were important to my bosses while finding ways to start things that were important to me in my free time.  Connecting with people in our community, sending millions of handwritten notes to customers, bringing diverse groups of Sprint employees together for #HackFriday’s and starting the Sprint Accelerator.

    A mere 15 months from the conception of the Sprint Accelerator and only 60 days after wrapping up our first class with Techstars, I’m leaving behind some really amazing people and [up to this point] the best role in my professional career.   We are nowhere near flying the “Mission Accomplished” banner but I’m confident that awesome peers like Tina, Doug and Monica will continue to grow the Sprint Accelerator into another remarkable chapter in the 115 year history of our company.

    Throughout my journey at Sprint, I’ve had nearly a dozen bosses; people who provided amazing guidance and even better lessons of what not to do.  From the get go, my relationship with Kevin McGinnis was different.  We didn’t get along for quite some time but the gravity of our disruptive personalities eventually brought us closer and closer together.  A bond was formed between the two of us after an internal hack-a-thon and I came to appreciate the vision and passion he has for KC.  As the oldest of 4 boys, I was secretly jealous of my friends who had older siblings.  Kevin has been, and always will be, more of an older brother than a boss and more of a visionary leader than anyone else I’ve ever dealt with directly during my career at Sprint.

    There are hundreds of other people who have impacted me along the way (too many to name here), none have had the same effect on the direction of my life.  Kevin showed me the importance of developing community inside and around the company walls and ironically, he’s partially to blame for the opportunity that has led to this new path in my career.  I’ll continue to lean on him for guidance and I’m nothing but appreciative for where he’s steered me so far [THANK YOU].

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    Another friend and executive at Sprint sent me a note this week after he heard the news that I was leaving:

    You have inspired or frightened many people. Both are good as it made them stop and think. Your presence will be missed.”

    I pride myself on the reputation I’ve built as a corporate revolutionary.  For a company sitting in 3rd place, there were a number of people who felt unnecessarily comfortable collecting a paycheck and I found it my duty to make them feel uneasy.  Watching Marcelo Claure yesterday during his very first Town Hall with the employee base was heart warming.  Sprint’s roots can be traced back to an entrepreneur who challenged a gigantic monopoly from the center of the country.  As a founder himself, Claure understands the cultural values required to do the same thing all over again and I have confidence that Sprint is in great hands with him at the helm.

    Thank you Sprint.  Thank you for everything….the last decade has been a learning experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I look forward to taking everything you’ve taught me into making KC a more attractive place to live, work and play.

    Your #1 fan and now loyal customer,

    Erik

COMMENTS

4 Responses to Thank You Sprint!

  • jonbachura wrote on August 15, 2014 at 9:58 // Reply

    Congratulations, Erik. Your passion is contagious.

  • KathyHoltmeierDechamps wrote on August 15, 2014 at 10:35 // Reply

    A BIG Congratulations to you Erik!  Your mom told me about your new opportunity in KC.  Our first sister trip was to KC about 15 years ago and we had a great time then. I am thinking your aunts and mom should plan another in the next year or so after you have a had a chance to make it an even better place for everyone (for us it will be to play!) Maybe we will get a personal tour of some new start up or even more exciting venue.  For sure we will have the highest of recommendations for things to do.  Can’t think of a more fun job!  ENJOY!

  • SerenaFox wrote on August 15, 2014 at 3:01 // Reply

    A Sprint without you AND Dan Hesse? That makes me sad. But I expect even greater things of you in your new endeavor. It looks like you’ll be working with MindMixer. Is that true? I worked as talent for them for a video they were shooting in May. Congratulations to you Erik!

  • SamCPark wrote on August 15, 2014 at 10:32 // Reply

    Awesome story. As an founding investor of a friends company which recently went public, it was 5 years of hoping and believing in my friend, who is extremely smart in technology and sorta dumb in business. Hope your new venture is something you started as you seem to have that entrepreneurial edge.

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