I wrote this to my fellow employees last night, and wanted to share it with you. I, like every one of you, are simply trying to process this incomprehensible loss of our friend and comrad, Amy Dombroski. Perhaps in some small way this will help you.
"Five years ago, I sat in the tall grass at Elks Lodge here in Boulder...known to us bike nerds as "The worlds shittiest cyclocross course." Crappy, flat and littered with dog poop, we loved it. Now, it's been demolished by flood and the Parks Dept who are digging it up to make it look like any other park. We've graduated 7 National Champions and 2 world champions in that park. It means something. At least to us.
So, I sat in the grass five years ago with a 21 year old gal who I admired and could see was stepping to the next level in her bike racing career. "Career" in that these things never really last long as the sport typically chews up young souls and spits them out. It rarely works out.
We talked a ton in that field that night, and a lot more over the years. She'd just finished a clinic that night Brandon Dwight and I had given and she had questions galore. Hungry for knowledge. Extra credit.
Year after year she progressed. This 4'11 micro midget with a never-say-die spirit. What did she need to know? Who did she need to talk to for sponsorship? What was the path to make this her career? It was exactly what she wanted.
Great friends, great family and great mentoring propelled her. Got her on the rails.
She leaned in to exactly what she wanted. Went for it.
In the cooking world, you go to Paris or Milan to get shit on by the great chefs to try and make it.
You go to Hollywood to bury yourself to make it on the silver screen.
If you bleed software engineering, you are a moth to Silicon Valley's flame.
And if you are a bike racer, you go to Belgium.
Amy Dombroski went to Belgium. To face the best. And she got respect. And a contract. She'd 'made it'. She'd executed on her dream in 5 years. She was in the system now. A pro cyclocross racer at the top most level on earth. This was her job. 5 years of making ends meet to simply: get a job.
She leaned in to where it was toughest because it's where the best were. That was Amy D. Frankly, it's not even where the most money could have been made. Simply, it was where the best were. She wanted to take them on. Belgium: where she new she had to be challenged. She told me this in that field. That she knew they were fast, but she could hang. She asked me about what it was like racing overseas and I told her: "It's hard as fuck. But I had to go and race against these myths, even if at my age they were master old myths."
My friend Amy passed away today. Tragic, and I thank you for your well wishes. It means a lot. But, it's not the point of this email.
It's about you. And taking on a bit of 'Amy Dombroski' in your spirit and in your lives.
Ask yourselves: Are you challenged? Is this your Belgium? Is this where you can face the stuff that makes you better? Makes you more incentivized to learn more...do more...dig deeper? You all are amazing. Look at the progress, but your lives should be enriched. And part of that is what you do to earn your livings and more specifically be absolutely...
And while we know it's hard to carry stoke every day, your foundation at work is the belief in what you're doing and with those you're doing it with. What we're doing to change the publishing industry and to enrich the lives of the employees that we call LinkSmarties. We have something very very special. It's time for us to reflect and close collective eyes and meditate on that fact. Just for a moment.
Lean in. Hard. Make this place that memory in your bright futures where you can say looking back: "I held nothing back." "I went as hard as I could." "My teammates bled from their eye balls too." "We...fucking...crushed...it."
And you are.
I truly love you all. As silent as I may seem to you some days as I too am learning brand new things. Challenged by what it's like to make a smooth environment for you...for us...to succeed. My Belgium.