Fifteen years ago today (July 1, 2005) I decided to quit my job and begin my own business helping struggling schools with their literacy practices.  I was already doing that work with another company (CORE), but I kind of thought, “Well, why not me?” and I struck out.

I didn’t know what I was doing back then.  I lived in an apartment and my mom was my banker and my dad was my business advisor.  And my friends were packet staplers and the staff at Fed Ex Office became my best friends because we spent so much time together.

There were major wins along the way (15,000 teachers in one day getting a copy of my third book in their hands…thank you New Mexico!) and there were major losses (thanks, economy for crashing and leaving me holding the bag on conference deposits for events we were hosting!).  There are so many stories I could tell from the hysterical (where I dragged a trash bag on my boot the entire length of the Denver airport without knowing it). To the harrowing (sleeping in a shelter in Gape Girardeau, MO because of tornadoes).

But the thing is, when I really think back over the past 15 years, not much has changed about how I do this work with teachers, coaches and principals.  What guided me 15 years ago, still guides me…maybe it’s even clearer today:

  1. Keep instruction simple
  2. Focus on quality teaching
  3. Cut the fluff
  4. Have some fun doing it

I want to thank you, reader, so much for supporting me along the way through these 15 years.  Without you I couldn’t have done what I have been able to do with my work and with my life.  Here’s to 15 more!