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Year-end thoughts by a fellow citizen and entrepreneur

December 6, 2013
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Dear family, friends, colleagues and SoRewarding community,

Before the hustle and bustle of the holidays begins, I wanted to take a moment and thank each of you for your continued support of SoRewarding and our mission to spread goodness and integrate giving into people’s daily lives.

Today, an incredible man named Nelson Mandela passed away.  As I read all the kind words and farewell posts on social media from around the world, I’m reminded that no matter how long a person lives (in Mandela’s case – a good long 95 years), our time on Earth is still limited.  So the question is: What is it that you plan to leave behind? In Mandela’s case, he left behind a wealth of love along with examples of how to care for one another and promote peace.

His life is a good reminder that serving others, doing good, and spreading love is so much more fulfilling than only serving ourselves.  I work a lot – almost 18 hours a day between the two companies I founded, SoRewarding and Demetrio Tequila.  But recently, I’ve also tried to make more of an effort to appreciate each day and enjoy the people whom I’m fortunate to have in my life.

Many of you who know me know that my goals in life have been simplified over the last few years.  I want to live a life that I can be proud of, try and never hurt anyone, help those in need, spend time with the people I love, take care of my family, and help as many people as I can without any expectations or needing anything in return.

I’m sure most of you aspire to some similar goals – and I’m sure you all know how easy it is to get distracted by “the daily grind” and forget about what you want to get out of life. I’ve struggled with it for years and continue to even today.  But I’ve realized that when I truly stay focused on achieving these goals, I find myself to be a much happier and grateful person.

If you stop and think about it, most of us are extremely fortunate.  If we have something to eat, a roof over our heads, the love of family and friends and the spare time to be reading this crazy rant of mine, then we’re doing better than most of the people in this world.  But how often do we actually stop and feel grateful for all that we have?  For me, it actually takes quite a bit of reminding each day and then only does my day start to really feel spectacular.

2013 has been an interesting year for SoRewarding, to say the least.

I knew when I founded SoRewarding that it was not going to be an easy road.  Although social enterprises are somewhat of a hot topic today, five years ago, it really wasn’t.  So trying to convince investors and even nonprofits and businesses that we were building something truly innovative and useful that would benefit communities as a whole was difficult.  But with the help of a few investors and a great team, we headed towards making SoRewarding a reality.

After four years of tinkering around, research, development, re-development, etc., we finally launched our go-to-market site at the end of 2012 and we started off on full throttle, heading to the stars.  Towards the middle of the year, we ran out of gas as one of our lead investors and friend of mine exited the company for personal reasons.  This was an extremely tough time for the company and we had to lay off a good portion of our staff while we tried to figure out how to keep the momentum we had built up.

So, our lead investor leaves and there we were, trying to figure out what to do next.  Do we close up shop?  Do we sell it?  What to do?  Well, as it turns out, I was only good at doing one thing at that point.  I’m terribly embarrassed to say, but I just moped around for a few weeks while feeling extremely sorry for myself.  But more importantly, I felt horrible for having to let go of some of my colleagues who had also become good friends of mine.

So what did we end up doing?  The few of us who were left decided that we were going to pursue our mission of making SoRewarding the stellar site we knew it could be – so that’s exactly what we did.

Today, I’m extremely thrilled to announce our latest and greatest release of our site.  Our CTO, our Director of Ops and our development team have outdone themselves with this release and I couldn’t be more proud.  Below are some quick highlights about the website, and some other exciting news from the past couple months:

  • This week, SoRewarding.com hit its 1 millionth unique visitor – a big milestone for us.
  • Today, we unveiled our newly designed site – a much cleaner and simpler experience with some really cool technologies.  Have a look when you get a chance.
  • With today’s launch, we also opened up our site for 3rd party integrations. (http://www.sorewarding.com/developers)
  • SoRewarding won the “Next Big Thing” award at Denver Startup week in September.
  • We recently announced a really exciting new partnership with PVBLIC Foundation.  Together, we plan to make a lasting and meaningful impact in the philanthropic space.
  • We are extremely proud to see a financial company like Janus Capital Group taking a leap into enhancing their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) efforts.  We are seeing more big names join us in making a positive impact in the community.  Janus Capital Group has many cool initiatives planned, but one example of how they plan to work with SoRewarding is through the use of SoRewarding’s trackable “Spread Kindness” wristbands to promote kindness as a company – really awesome to see.

As 2013 draws to a close and we eagerly look forward to 2014, I’m truly energized for the future of SoRewarding and excited to watch as our platform continues to transform communities and make philanthropy and spreading kindness a part of people’s daily lives.

I guess all this rambling is a long way of saying thank you to all of you who have supported and continue to support SoRewarding and our mission. What I’ve learned is that if you want something bad enough and if you believe in what you’re doing, there is always hope.  And a big reason that this company has been able to come as far as it has is because of the people – our investors, employees, nonprofit partners, business partners, community supporters, family and friends. Together, we will continue to charge forward and make a difference in this world.

Remember that question I asked earlier about “What is it that you plan to leave behind?”  Well, I don’t know about you, but for me, I just want to cut out all the superficial stuff and enjoy each day, each person, each moment as though it was the last thing I did.  And when my time comes, I hope to somehow (not sure exactly how yet – I’m working on it) leave this world knowing that I hopefully made a positive impact in the lives of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, but also in the lives of those I didn’t.   

People – that’s what life is about.  Not material things, not our status in life, not ourselves, but others.  As 2014 begins, let’s focus each day on how we can serve one another and make this life worthwhile.

Here’s to a happy life!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to7uIG8KYhg

Marion

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