• 8 Shelby’ers. 
  • 7 direct hits with snowballs. 
  • 6 pots of coffee. 
  • 5 beds. 
  • 4 meetings. 
  • 3 interns. 
  • 2 days. 
  • 1 hot tub. 
  • 0 connectivity.

The Shelby Summit 2013.

Last week, we held the first annual Shelby Summit — a two day event in which we took the entire team* up North a couple hours to a house in the woods with no wifi/phone service. We revisited our core values, laid out our strategy for 2013, set big goals, both personally and professionally, and had a lot of laughs along the way.

Planning the Summit came together quickly, as Dan and I realized that January is already off to a flying start and if we didn’t take a minute to slow down, it’ll be the second quarter before we knew it. Luckily, our team is small enough that we execute fast and our man Frasher is an ace on AirB’nB, so we found a big old house that was off the grid and booked it.

Prior to leaving, I asked the team to do two things. 

  1. Spend time thinking about goals for 2013. Professionally and personally.
  2. Submit ingredients needed to prepare a course with your partner (both assigned by Dan and I) for our team dinner Thursday night. More on this later.

Most of the team got to the house Wednesday night (the rest came up Thursday AM), and I kicked off the day with some opening remarks, ground rules, and the goal of the Summit: “Get everyone at Shelby aligned and excited for 2013, with clear goals as a product, company, brand, and as individuals.”

We then jumped into a discussion of our core values that we wrote together this past summer. For any startups considering this type of exercise, I highly recommend putting in the time early on, then revisiting them months later to see what holds up and what doesn’t. Based upon our discussion, one core value subsumed another, others evolved to better reflect who we are, but otherwise our values held strong and have directly impacted the way we work since writing them down. Further, having this discussion at the start of the Summit gave us a vocabulary with which to address everything else. 

After a quick lunch, we headed out for a hike around the Ashokan Reservoir. We lucked out with beautiful weather, and had some fun tossing snowballs around.


The main dish of our Summit was next, with a few hours spent diving deep into our plans for the upcoming year. While Dan and I have a great direction for this, it’s imperative that everyone understands the challenges ahead and commits to the goals we all set as a company. This led to some amazing feedback for us as founders, and I am extremely fortunate to work with this team - passionate people who want to raise the bar. (I know all startups might talk this talk, but this team walks the walk).


Now for some serious laughs. To prepare dinner, Dan and I assigned everyone to an odd-ball couple - people who don’t work together much or are generally opposites in personality - and gave each team responsibility for a course. No one was to collaborate, so it was a true pot-luck. 

  • Cocktail: “Old Fashioned” by Reece and Frasher
  • Appetizers: Prosciutto Mac’n’Cheese Cupcakes, Salad (dressing not homemade) Gorgonzola/Honey and Fontina Prosciutto Crostinis by Chris and Vincent
  • Main: Grilled meats. Lots of ‘em. Spicy Grilled Mushroom/Eggplant (Henry and Mike)
  • Sides: Salad with Homemade Poppy Seed Dressingand Candied Almonds(!) and Roast Potato & Pepper Hash by Josh and Ian
  • Dessert: Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Oatmeal Cookies by Dan and Brendan


All I can say, is this team can cook. Lots of pride went into the preparations and everyone enjoyed it, especially Chris and Vincent’s appetizers. [It’s also worth noting that I haven’t laughed that hard, for that long, in a while. My face hurt from laughing so much. This team is hilarious].

We cleaned up our act and hung by the fire for a couple of great games that will remain nameless (so as not to give away the keys to winning for future hires), before settling down for a discussion about goal setting. This involved explaining the S.M.A.R.T framework “Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Timely” which we then all applied to our individual goals together the next morning. 

Having everyone share their goals out loud was a perfect capstone for the Summit. We now all know what it is we want to achieve as individuals, and how that will make us better as a company now, and in the future. I won’t list out our personal or company goals here, but if you stay tuned, they should be apparent in everything we do this year.

Here’s to our team and to 2013. Let’s do this!


[Sometimes selfies are hard to do.]

*One teammate couldn’t make it due to some vacation time planned well in advance. He was with us in spirit.