I believe that every person plays a specific role in your life.
And if you ever plan on starting a business with a friend, that role is amplified. Let me tell you about the role Nick Wernimont has played in mine.
The Nick I Knew
Nick’s role in my life has changed dramatically in the last few years.
When you meet him, it’s pretty obvious what role he’s going to play: Nick is around to make sure things don’t get boring. His personality is crazy magnetic. Whether in a room filled with 10 or 10,000, everyone will end up listening if he is telling a story.
Despite all the hardship he has experienced, he maintains a charisma that very few people can match.
Friends Before Business
We met my freshman year in college and immediately became very close friends. We took almost every class together. I guess you could say that was my first productivity hack – I only had to learn half of the information because I knew I could rely on him for the rest.
I can remember many all-night cramming sessions at the Village Inn. To (loosely) quote the great Thorton Mellon, “Bring a pot of coffee every seven minutes until someone passes out. Then bring one every ten minutes!”
Nick became someone I counted on to carry half the load. Little did I know just how relevant that would be so many years later.
We remained close over the next 17 years: through my moves to Manhattan and Dallas, and his moves to LA, back to Chicago, then Birmingham. It was a typical dude relationship – we didn’t need to talk very often to immediately pick up where we left off.
I remember when Nick first told me about Factor, healthy meals delivered to people’s homes and offices. “Factor is not a diet. We prepare fresh food that feeds performance.”
I thought I got it. I didn’t.
He wanted me to join him, but I hesitated. As the launch date drew closer, our discussions grew more serious. They went from “You should come do this with me…” to “Dude. Come do this with me.”
I decided to make the trip to Chicago to check everything out. At the time, our thought was a franchise in Dallas. Dumbest. Idea. Ever. We quickly realized our idiocy, and after five days of kicking tires, we decided the only way it would work was if I moved to Chicago. He wanted me to help him raise his baby, “My Two Dads” style.
That was four weeks before launch, and my wife Lindsay was five months pregnant. “How did it go?” Lindsay asked upon my return.
I said, “It was good.” But what I meant was, “I want to move back to Chicago, quit my job, and put a large chunk of our life savings into a start-up business. Oh, and I want to do that before our daughter is born.”
After 24 hours of reflection, she said, “Let’s do it. I have faith in you, and know you’ll succeed.” To say everything I want to about Lindsay would require a novel, so I will leave it at this: Lindsay’s role in my life is to make everything else work.
None of it does without her. I love her more than I can possibly put into words.
The Ultimate Test
Almost two years later, Factor is still kicking. The journey has tested every ounce of my resolve and self-confidence, tested every ounce of trust Nick and I have in one another, and tested the bonds of every other relationship I have as well.
It has been the most difficult 20 months of my life, but an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. This journey of uncertainty and introspection has changed the way I think about everything.
Ironically, I was not passionate about nutrition before this journey. I was passionate about enjoying life, and being the best possible version of myself.
I now realize that one has everything to do with the other. Knowing that, my passion now is to help other people feel great and perform at their best.
How I determine personal success, and that of Factor, will forever be judged by how many lives we can improve. If we succeed in that, the rest will fall into place.
The last few years have radically changed the roles Nick and I play in each other’s lives. I have always felt guilty that I couldn’t do more when his brother, Aaron, passed away. Maybe that wasn’t my role for him. Maybe my role is to be his co-founder and to help his baby thrive.
Time will tell.
No Going Back
Nick offered me the chance to take my fate into my own hands. The chance to succeed or fail on my terms. I can never repay him for that.
If I look up and Nick isn’t in the office, I always wonder what promises he’s out making that our team will have to deliver. But if we were in a knife fight, I wouldn’t have to look up to know exactly what he was doing: fighting like hell for me.
I would bet on us. I already have.