May 3 2013

Firsts, Still

Firsts, Still

After more than 13 years in the job, I run into “firsts” less and less often these days.  But in the past week, I’ve had three of them. They’re incredibly different, and it’s awkward to write about them in the same post, but the “firsts” theme holds them together.

One was incredibly tragic — one of our colleagues at Return Path died suddenly and unexpectedly.  Even though we’ve lost two other employees in the last 18 months to cancer, there was something different about this one.  While there’s no good way to die, the suddenness of Joel’s passing was a real shock to me and to the organization, and of course more importantly, to his wife.

The second was that I came face to face with a judge in the state of Delaware for the first time around some litigation we’re in the middle of now.  While I can’t comment on this for obvious reasons, you never think when you decide to incorporate in Delaware that a trip to a courthouse in Wilmington is in your future.

The third, which can only be described as bittersweet, is that we had our first long-time employee retire!  Now THAT’S something you never think about when you run a startup.  But Sophie Miller Audette, one of our first 20 employees going back to 2000 and the sixth longest tenured person at the company today, has decided to retire and move on to other adventures in her already rich life.  A quick search on my blog reveals that I’ve blogged about Sophie three times since I started OnlyOnce 9 years ago (as of next week).  The first time was in 2004 when I quoted her memorable line, “In my next life, I want to come back as a client.”  The second and third times were in 2005 and were about the company’s commitment to helping to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, which Sophie was diagnosed with almost 10 years ago now.  Sophie has been an inspiration to many of us for a long time, and while we’ll miss her day-to-day, she’ll always be part of the Return Path family.  Picture of her, me, and Anita at her “retirement dinner” earlier this week below.

Sophie retirement dinner

I always say that one of the best parts about being in this job for this long is that there are always new challenges and new opportunities to learn and grow.  The last couple weeks, full of firsts, proved the point!