Was there anyone in Chicago last night that was not elated that the Cubs finally won the World Series after only 108 years? No one that I encountered so far today, that’s for certain. It was a thrill like none we’ve seen for some time. My own family was riveted to the television, eating dinner picnic-style all around the room. We all stayed up to watch the outcome, homework and Black Friday prep happening during the commercials, and of course, the 17 minutes of rain.
By tradition, we’re a hockey family and baseball was not something we followed with committed passion until even we noticed the Cubs were playing some amazing post-season games. That definitely got our attention and we were hooked, planning our lives around the infamous 7:08 start time. We even began to play “Top THIS Trivia” about the Cubs chances of winning.
Did you know that. . .
- The 108 stitches on a baseball could stand for the end of the 108-year gap between wins? (No, there are NOT 109 stitches so we HAVE to win!)
- Four more games could be translated into 36 innings, and at 3 outs per inning, (wait for it. . . ) that’s a cool 108 outs. (Coincidence? I think not.)
- And one of my very favorites. . . Start time in Chicago was 7:08 because in military time, that’s 19:08, the same numbers as the last year we’d won—108 years ago.
We also brought to bear our own individual, and highly superstitious, desires to control the win by doing some incredibly influential things including—
- Not changing from my red watchband until the last game was over.
- Only watching on the WIN television, not the “other” one.
- No matter the outfit, lugging around Cubs colored scarves in my backpack so I was ready for any impromptu display of support at a moment’s notice. (Yes, I did do this twice on the train last week—on days we lost. No one was going to discourage me.)
- And a true first for our household—not washing the newly acquired BAEZ-emblazoned Cubs jerseys until after the W. (That never happens!)
At the start of every game, we’d carefully put on our Cubs gear, settle down, and begin to stress. Like the rest of the world’s onlookers, last night we were yo-yos of stress. Up by 3, then not, tied, then not, up by two, then not, and then, the 10th inning W. We clapped, snarled, stretched when it wasn’t the seventh inning, groaned, giggled, and held our collective breath. We cheered with every run we scored, every out we caused, and generally lived through every single moment of this emotional seventh game. We paced, sighed, hardly breathed, and in our darkest moments, tried to tell ourselves it was only a game.
I knew it wasn’t though. I was raised to know that sports teams have the power to change a city. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, which is a major sports town. When I grew up, we’d root for our teams—Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins—no matter what. In Pittsburgh, each team was so consistently decked out in Pittsburgh’s black and gold to match the colors in the city’s flag. As a designer, I liked that alignment. Yet these past two weeks, I’ve looked like a walking flag in my big splashes of red and blue with accents of white, proudly displaying my Cubs allegiance. (Any color matches my basic black, right?)
As we bungee-corded ourselves from the 9th to 10th inning last night, our family hollered and whooped. My youngest child came over to hug me and said, “Mommie, you’re crying! Why?” I only then realized I was crying. “I’m so happy!” I choked out.
Shortly thereafter, coming down to a slightly more realistic sense of awareness, I realized it was after midnight and this child was still awake, alert, and dressed for a sporting event. Quickly, it was tuck-in time. As I said goodnight, my insightful child asked a seemingly innocent question that had me wondering most of the night:
“Mommy, why were YOU so happy the Cubs won?”
The house settled down. I began once again to pick up where I left off on my work. That question kept swirling around in my mind. I immediately thought of Grampa who would have only wanted to be behind the Cubs dugout—in his dreams, of course. Our family had no money for that sort of luxury. (He was at the final game at Forbes Field though, a claim to fame we always cherished in our family.)
Was that it? Was it the connection to Grampa and my Pittsburgh upbringing that made this WIN so personally important to me? Was everyone feeling the personal connection to this WIN? Never one to worry that I was or wasn’t like the throngs, I continued to ponder this question.
My child had hit a nerve. Why did this WIN matter so much to me? I’d love to tell you some major epiphany came over me, but instead I finally slept at about 2:00. I suppose my mother’s advice to “sleep on it” whenever I had a problem to solve or decision to make proved accurate once again. You might think I awoke with the answer, but this morning I did something I’m sure many people who experienced that game did—I completely overslept instead!
I scrambled to get to the office and as I walked along the river, smiling to myself that surely Chicago will dye this river blue in the coming days, I gazed up at the behemoth building where Teacher Peach occupies a tiny little suite. In that instant, the river to my left, the building to my right, I knew why this win was so important to me.
It’s because of Teacher Peach and my work. That’s why this game mattered so much to me. It was a metaphor. For the Cubs, this game was about achieving something that has felt so out of reach for a long time. Compared to the Cubs, Teacher Peach is really new; I’ve only been running this company full-time for 15 months, but I have my own “out of reach” moments, too.
People are just now beginning to discover all that this company stands for. People are starting to learn that we believe in teachers and students unconditionally. They’re just now grasping that our commitment to supporting teachers and their kids is what drives us to make this the best possible company every single day (and well into the middle of many nights). “It’s early, Randi.” I say that often, but it can still feel out of reach at times nonetheless.
We just launched the Teacher Discount Program to help teachers save money when they buy classroom products for their students. We did this because we know that teachers spend their own money on these products. As much as my entrepreneurial gut knew it was right to do this right now, it’s slower going than I want; we don’t yet have hundreds of thousands of teachers signing up. I believe we will, but it is still so new. For now, I must trust that this discount will genuinely be helpful to teachers; I just don’t have resounding evidence that this is so—yet. “It’s early, Randi.”
Our nonprofit fund Teacher Peach Seeds is even newer than the discount program. We donate 10% of the profits from every product we sell to this fund. I’m incredibly proud of that. Starting in January 2017, Teacher Peach Seeds will fund and award grants to fuel teacher driven projects designed to GROW student confidence. I FEEL in my bones that this is good for the teachers and the students. So many teachers have said to me, “If only I had the money, I would ___ for my kids.” The “peach seeds money” and Teacher Peach products from this nonprofit fund will empower teachers to realize these visions and create projects to help GROW confidence in “their kids.”
I’ve also learned from people who want to buy great teacher gifts for the teachers in their world that they love it when these great teacher gifts also DO GOOD. Teacher Peach’s teacher gifts do both and the families we have spoken to underscore that this giveback to teachers and students is valuable to them. But, sigh. “It’s early, Randi.” It is only the beginning of November. I don’t have “proof” yet that this charitable aspect of Teacher Peach, that matters so very much to me personally, will also resonate with a majority of teacher gift givers.
I know it won’t be early on these two initiatives forever. “It’s just early NOW, Randi.” We’ll know much more at the end of this holiday season about both the discount program and the nonprofit fund. In the meantime, we’ve got plenty to do to help teachers and their students—and do it we shall.
As for waiting for these two wins? I am relying on my gut, my fierce hope in this world’s willingness to join me in supporting teachers, and of course, working until I can’t work any longer or harder. There are many days in any start up where the entrepreneur simply has to “believe.” For this entrepreneur, I do believe that combining our company’s passion with our laser-focused purpose to support teachers and kids and supporting it with products that work in classrooms and recognize teacher dedication, will be a BIG WIN.
So yes. I was thrilled when the Cubs won last night. Yes, that WIN did give me a boost of confidence that our Teacher Peach team will win these two newest games, too. By listening carefully, continuing to do what’s right first, working smart, refining our game plans, building the right team, constantly rethinking our strategy, and most importantly, believing we can do it (especially when it begins to rain), Teacher Peach’s Teacher Discount Program and nonprofit Teacher Peach Seeds will also WIN.
The Cubs have fans. Teacher Peach has something even stronger. We have TEACHERS committed to helping kids learn and we have FAMILIES committed to thanking those teachers with gifts that fund grants. With these supporters, we’ll know exactly what to do next about both of these newest initiatives—in fewer than 108 DAYS!