Today is gap intelligence’s tenth birthday.  We are ten years old today. Ten years…wow.  Today is an impossible milestone that I never dreamed would come true on March 1, 2003.  Often times I am asked, “When you started, did you think……” and I cut ‘em off with a quick “Nope.”

I have struggled to find the words for a blog that properly commemorates these ten years of gap intelligence.  It’s impossible to express the enormous gratitude that I feel for the people that I work with, the clients that I do business with, and the culture that we have collectively crafted here.  Fortunately, I was lucky enough to attend a recent presentation given by Will Marre ( who told a heartwarming tale of an impossible journey that he took with his son and best friend that I felt was a perfect metaphor for me and gap intelligence.

Will’s story was about a time that a colleague coerced him to climb the Matterhorn.  The colleague was ten years his senior and promised Will that the experience would change his life.  Will was not a climber, but was inspired by his colleague’s passion and thought that since an older man could do it, climbing the Matterhorn would be an easy achievement.  Will invited his then 15 year old son and best friend, Chris, to join him and made plans to climb the Matterhorn 12 months later.

Will did nothing to prepare for the climb during those 12 months and when they arrived in Zermatt, Switzerland, a town fitted at the base of the Matterhorn, he knew that he was in a world of trouble.  Will quickly realized how steep the Matterhorn is, how cold it is, and just how truly dangerous the climb is.  His first reaction was “I can’t do this”, but was pressed by his son to give it a try.  Will never rock climbed before, but agreed to do a “training run” on a smaller “practice” wall of about 250 feet.  During the practice run, Will’s muscles cramped, his fingers quickly grew numb, and afterwards he was even more convinced that he could never climb the Matterhorn.

His son urged him on.

So the next day, with the help of a guide, Will, his son, and his friend Chris, took to climbing the Matterhorn.  Will’s version of the story is long and arduous and he details how he made it through impossible obstacles during his two day climb to the top.  Will was exhausted, beaten up, frozen, but still he carried on, step by step, foot by foot.  With just 75 feet from the top of the Matterhorn, the guides were antsy to get to the peak because bad weather was rolling in and Will was far behind his son and friend.  Risking missing their chance to reach the peak, Will’s son and friend waited for over an hour for him to catch up.  When asked “Why did you wait?” Chris replied simply, “We would never go up there without you.”

Will reached the peak together with Chris and his son.

Will ended his story by sharing that he never would have made that impossible climb of the Matterhorn without two things: 1) A Dream – he absolutely could not let his son down and 2) The People that were with him on the journey.

Will’s tale of climbing the Matterhorn immediately resonated with me and the story of gap intelligence.

On March 1, 2003, I dreamed that gap intelligence would be a truly unique organization that inspired people to do great things.  I wanted gap intelligence to be fun, to be empowering, and our work would leave a mark on the community around us.  gap intelligence is a values-led company.

More importantly, gap intelligence turns ten today because of the people who have joined me on this journey  – most notably my longtime friend, Chris, who taught me how to climb.  They have held on through good times and bad and have patiently waited for me to catch up.

So thank you.  Thank you to Jake, Sarina, Katie, and Tom who have been climbing with me for years.  Thank you to my fellow gappers who are our greatest asset and make climbing every day fun and inspiring.  Thank you to our clients, for supporting gap intelligence in our very early days and for making our work so rewarding.

With our dream and the people on this journey, I can’t wait to see the impossible heights that we will reach in the next ten years……