Sabbatical

Whatever you’re doing this Friday, I invite you to take a sabbatical. It can be just one moment, or it can be longer. It doesn’t have to look any particular way, and there’s no way to do it right.

Just breathe, and intentionally notice your life.

This is It.

And if you feel like it’s missing something, then that feeling is also It.


After starting VNN 10 years ago, and then building and leading an amazing team to scale VNN into the largest high school sports communication platform in the country, as of yesterday I’ve officially left the company.

My cofounder Matt Anderson and I started VNN when I was 25 years old. I had an irrelevant creative writing degree and no idea what I was doing. But I was enthusiastic, and I also didn’t know all the reasons why it wouldn’t work. I had no experience to speak of, so I credit that enthusiasm, along with an illogical commitment to never giving up, with the success I had over the last decade (raised $20m, hired and lead nearly 100 amazing people, survived four WFIO moments and built a market-leading company in a hyper competitive space that is now positioned to roll up the HS sports market).

But, lest we forget, here is how it started:

After all that, this wasn’t the way I imagined it ending, for sure. And it kills me to walk away when things are so chaotic. But I have absolute confidence in the VNN team we put together, and that their tremendous talent, resilience, creativity and drive will lead VNN to new heights. I can’t wait to watch, and I’ll be crossing all my fingers while cheering from the sidelines.

The ending of my part of the VNN story (the VNN story will hopefully go on for a long time), abrupt as it was, doesn’t take away from the amazing experience, the truly remarkable memories, and the people who made it all so wonderful. Ah, the people. After so much striving for 10 years, and so much achieving, I’ve already forgotten most of the milestones we hit, but I’ll remember the people for a long time. I am infinitely grateful for my time working with the VNN team and the opportunity it gave me to grow. I’m grateful to have watched many VNN teammates grow into world class professionals along the way — more than a few blossoming from college kids into more talented people than I could ever have convinced to come to VNN, had they grown up elsewhere. And I’m grateful to have first hand experience of just how much a small group of concerned citizens is capable of. I owe so much to the people who believed in me along the way, our awesome customers (especially those first few crazy people who took a chance on that kid), our amazing supporters and investors, the mentors who provided strong shoulders on which I stood unabashedly, and my loving and patient wife who enabled all this (often at great sacrifice). Laura, I love you. And to everyone I interacted with along the way, from the bottom of my being, I say: Thank you.

I am sad at the ending of the third important chapter of my life, and I’m going to take some time to grieve the loss (I’ll write more about this in future posts). But I’m also excited about the beginning of the fourth chapter, and I’m sure I’ll be back on the court before you know it.

Back, yes, but different. Building on all the talent(?), hustle(!) and persistence(!!) of my VNN days, when I do come back I’ll be older, wiser, many times broken, lovingly lost, one mid-life crisis in the rearview mirror, and above all, committed to helping do what needs doing.

I can’t wait.

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H.B. Calder
H.B. Calder
4 months ago

Very well said. It is the journey of all entrepreneurs – the few who get to make the journey.

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