I’m 33 years old. My big brother Kyle is 40. And I’ve always looked up to him. Despite the scar in my eyebrow from the ping pong paddle that supposedly slipped from his hand. And that other time that he convinced me to chew up a vitamin that was NOT a chewable vitamin….
Objectively, his resume is impressive. More importantly, though, he’s pretty much always made me laugh. And he's reliable.
About 8 years ago, his wife was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Life changed in a BIG way for Kyle following that diagnosis.
Fast forward to today. Kyle has since moved his family from Virginia Beach to Minneapolis, founded Jack's, and left his career to focus solely on that cause. And this endeavor has me looking up to him even more than I did as a kid. I recently accepted the challenge of leading the Austin chapter of Jack’s. Which gave me the privilege of attending the annual strategy and planning retreat in April of this year.
There were 5 of us present for the retreat. Kyle, Travis, Justin and myself. And Bre attended the Saturday morning portion via Google Hangouts with her sweet, new baby in her arms (that, right there, is major dedication).
I didn’t know much about the other guys before the retreat. I knew a bit more about Travis than Justin because I had listened to the Real Men podcast in which Kyle interviewed him. I learned on the trip that he and his wife are pretty deep in her battle with cancer.
And Justin…I had heard stories of him. I associated the friendship between him and my brother as being quite a significant catalyst in the creation of Jack’s. Mentions of Justin put me more at ease about Kyle being so far away from our whole family while going through such a uniquely difficult time. He had connected with another “martian” (if this has you confused, listen to Travis’s Real Men Podcast Episode), and it had a profound impact on him.
The way the retreat was conducted was impressive. Not a moment wasted. We talked shit. We drank beers, and we evaluated our own demonstration of Jack’s core values. After landing at the cabin we had a heated debate about fun-sized candy for a solid hour.
The next morning we drank coffee, cooked breakfast together, and then got down to business. We discussed everything from Jack’s mission statement to the measurable numerical goals for the year of 2019. The most impactful part of the retreat for me, though, was the drive to and from the cabin. This was when some amazing conversations took place between three men whose worlds have been flipped upside down by cancer. Conversations that are therapeutically helpful. The type of conversations that Jack’s exists in order to provide the space for them to occur naturally.
“Improve the way men think, feel and act as cancer caregivers.” This is the mission, and it is the heartbeat of Jack’s. If it weren’t for the drive that these guys (and gals!) have to create something exceptional that they and any guys in the same boat as them could benefit from…it wouldn’t exist. It takes hard work, and there’s an incredible team working in Minneapolis/St.Paul area to provide this incredible hospitality for caregivers.