In the weeks leading up to our launch I introduced the name, Burn the Boats Media Company, to some close friends and family. In some cases, I was met with an instant familiarity. With others, I was met with instant confusion.
The confusion was what I was afraid of while deciding on a name, and also what I was counting on.
I’ll explain why I was counting on the confusion below, but first let’s start at the beginning.
The Back Story Behind the Name
Almost 14 years ago I left my waitressing job to sort mail part-time in an office setting. I had been waitressing my way through college for a few years. The problem was, I was a yes person, and that is rare in the world of restaurant service staff. So while everyone else was calling out sick or not showing up, I was getting called in and asked to cover, to the point where I once worked 27 days straight, almost all double-shifts, without a day off.
I needed a change in pace, and that somehow landed me in an office chair, sorting business-reply cards that were pulled out of magazines and mailed in. I had just turned 20 years old, and had every intention of that being a very, very temporary job. I was going to start my own business after I graduated college. This was just a stepping stone to get me through school and pay the bills.
“In every single thing you do, you are choosing a direction. Your life is a product of choices.” – Dr. Kathleen Hall
It wasn’t long though, before management got wind that I was quite the computer nerd, and I was moved into a different department to do data entry and administrative type work. Part-time became full-time. I would work from 8-5, drive 45 minutes to my college, and attend classes from 6 to 10pm.
I started laying out pages for magazines like Metropolitan Home, Elle Decor, Home Magazine and National Geographic Traveler. I was pretty good in web design and development, as I had been technically doing it since high school, so when I became an Account Manager, I naturally started working on websites for my clients and other AM’s clients as well. Before long I was designing email newsletters, coding websites, and managing the data entry department.
As you might have imagined, my very temporary job plans turned into years. I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design, and my boss attended my portfolio show where I won the award for best portfolio.
The days are long but the years are short.
I stayed at my job after graduating. I had also picked up some freelance clients on the side, which helped us save to buy our first home. When I got married and started having babies, I knew that if I had to choose, I would choose being home with my first son. Thankfully, they let me work from home. So again, I stayed.
I worked full-time from home for 7 1/2 years in which time I had my first, second, and third babies. I also never took a maternity leave, or even a vacation that I didn’t end up working. I designed and blasted a newsletter for Travel + Leisure Magazine from my hospital bed the day my first son was born. Still a yes person.
Throughout those years, I had that dream of starting my own business. In fact, as my family grew, so did the dream and really, the need. I kept a steady roster of freelance clients on the side, but never enough to replace my full-time income. For years, I stayed stuck.
I stayed very, very stuck. I wanted to have my own business, but couldn’t take on enough freelance clients to replace my income because I still had a job that had to be my first priority (after family, of course). For years I felt stuck there, right in the middle where I couldn’t leave my job because I needed more freelance clients, and I couldn’t take on more freelance clients because I had a job.
Everything is a risk.
In the past few years, things started to change for me. Maybe it was the loss of my mother, maybe it was the game-changer of having my third child, maybe it was just getting older and realizing what I want my life to be like. Maybe, it’s a combination of all of that and more. Either way, I started to realize that everything is a risk. And not doing something because it feels risky, that may ironically be the biggest risk of all.
Leaving my job and launching my own business, definitely a risk. But living my life every day with a feeling of dread because I am at the mercy of my job, and not doing what I really feel in my gut I should be doing, that is a bigger risk. Letting my children see that I am too scared to believe I can make my vision a reality, that is a bigger risk. Becoming burnt out and uninspired, a huge risk. Wasting the short time I have on this earth being stressed out and unhappy, for the sake of a paycheck, enormous risk.
Making the jump.
So I did it. I finally made the jump. I sat down with my husband one night after we put the kids to bed, and asked him what he would think if I said I wanted to quit my job and then figure it out. He said, “Go for it. I’ve been betting on you for years. I know you can do it. Burn the boats, baby.” Two days later, I resigned from my job (with three weeks notice).
If you want to take the island, you’ve got to burn the boats.
When it came to naming my new business, I actually had a name idea inspired by my children’s names. I couldn’t get the domain name, though, and that is a deal-breaker. So, while brainstorming with my husband one night, we both thought of the name Burn the Boats Media Company at almost the exact same time.
It felt perfect for a few reasons:
1.) I am finally, finally burning my boats and going all in with no other options or safety nets.
2.) As a graphic designer and web developer, I often work for people who are burning the boats in their own lives, launching and building businesses and brands they have dreamed up for themselves.
3.) It’s a mentality: to burn the boats is to go all in, decide that success is the only option and take the necessary risks to be successful.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this story, some friends and family knew exactly what “burn the boats” meant. They immediately got it and thought it fit perfectly. Others have seemed more confused, but I am okay with that because confusion leads to curiosity and gets your attention, and that’s what good brands do.
So this is it, the launch of Burn the Boats Media. I cannot wait to create websites and designs for people that will help them burn the boats and go all in.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman