One of the most difficult things as an entrepreneur is transitioning from a single person with an idea to a team of colleagues with a shared creative vision. Such a transition involves trust, time, and a certain degree of terror. But finding these fellow travelers who bring new skills, perspectives, and outlooks to bear on the original idea is without question the key to everything.
Over the past three years at TechChange, I’ve had the privilege working with hundreds of inspiring individuals: staff, advisory board members, and partners. Given the incessant pace of start-up life, it is sometimes easy to neglect the distance already traveled, the road already taken. Today, I’d like to to reflect on that journey and the contributions of one amazing individual: Chris Neu.
I first met Chris in the spring of 2010 while he was still working at the US Institute of Peace (USIP). I got a call from Dominic, my colleague and co-founder, saying “Chris Neu one of the smartest people I’ve ever met – he’s interested in coming over to work with us.” I remember thinking to myself, “One of the smartest people – huh? We’ll see.”
Three years later, I can confirm that Dominic was right.
Chris Neu is a firestorm of creativity, intelligence, and hard work. He is hardwired for start-up culture and possesses a rare unbridled energy for everything he does. He is the chief operations officer, the chief of staff, the photographer, the bookkeeper, the proposal writer, the facilitator, the blogger, the project manager, and so much more. He wears a TechChange t-shirt to every event and can be found enthusiastically sharing our story and message late into the night. And while he’s a frequent contributor to the many hilarious conversations that emerge in our tiny 3rd floor loft, he’s not afraid to take the hard line or unpopular stance in the interest of keeping the organization on track. He’s also the one hassling to me write more blog posts, so here you go, Chris!
Every leadership team is different but I believe the successful ones have people with complementary skill sets and fundamentally different personalities at the helm. To those sitting on great idea, I can confidently say: find someone who challenges you and disagrees with you, someone who pushes you to work harder and do more. Chris Neu is that person for me.
While in some sense the journey for TechChange is still just beginning, so much of our current success is a direct consequence of Chris’s tireless efforts over the past three years.
So today please join me in saying: Happy Birthday Mr. Neu and thank you for all you do for TechChange!
(Stay tuned as a I profile other staff members in weeks to come. Next up: Will Chester)