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A Letter From Jornaya Founder Ross Shanken Saying Farewell

Below is a message from our Founder Ross Shanken announcing his departure from Jornaya. Ross originally shared this on LinkedIn

Dear Jornation,

I recently shared with you that I’ll be leaving Jornaya later this summer. I never planned for when or how I would share those words, nor how difficult it would be to come to this decision. I’m resolved that this is the best decision for you and me, but there is also sadness about the end of this decade-long chapter with my beloved Jornation.

As I’ve shared with all of you, I had a dream as a young person to start a company — this dream had nothing to do with data, leads, consumer journeys, LeadiD, Jornaya or Verisk — it was a dream to work with a group of like-minded people, solving complex problems, creating massive value for many people, having each other’s backs, supporting each other through thick and thin. 

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The dream was to work every day with people like you. People who understand fully that the hard is what makes it great; people who are genuine with one another, especially when it’s hard; people who put family first and care about one another as if we’re extended family; people who know the appropriate answer to questions like “where to babies come from?” ;) people who understand the power of #OrangeKicks!

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People who appreciate Jornaya limericks, which are usually NOT ‘clean & clever’ :). People who aspire to live the Jornaya Code and choose to live out a similar dream which stretches each of us to grow personally, professionally and financially. 

We’ve done that, you’ve done that, and I could not possibly be more proud. You’ve all joined me and enabled my dream to come true. So for me to decide to leave Jornation was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. 

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Following our acquisition by Verisk, we all remained committed to helping Jornation & Verisk continue our work and Mission together. We’ve done that — our company continues to get better at what we do; increasing the value we’re creating for customers, partners and each other. Increasing our involvement in helping the world at large, using our energy, voice and treasure to combat inequities and injustices, and helping those who haven’t been as fortunate as we are. Notably, I’m not the primary reason for our recent successes, and I’m also very proud of this. We’ve built such a strong team, product and market that no longer rests on any one person’s capabilities, including mine.

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When I started to have some initial doubts several months ago about whether or not Jornaya (a Verisk Business) is still the place for me to do my best work. It was a foreign feeling. I wondered why I was having these doubts. With reflection, I concluded that while I’m sure I can continue to add value, I’m not needed in the same ways I may have been in the pre-acquisition years. My entrepreneurial core is an important part of who I am and it needs to be fulfilled, so it’s important for me to feel like I can continue to live that entrepreneurial dream. When we were creating a valuable organization “out of thin air” or even in more recent years when we were scaling, overcoming the many challenges associated with scaling,  and evolving into the high-value company that we’ve become, I could feel myself growing, adding measurable value to the team and our customers. Now, with a well-oiled Jornaya machine, Jornaya does not need me in those same ways.

Coupling that with the previous decade being one where I’ve run very hard, lived through many ups and downs; constantly learning, stretching and growing; I became in touch with a growing desire to take a break from the business and business in general. A desire to have some time & space to figure out where to go next after a break. Knowing that our Jornation is all good and can handle running the business without me here, freed me to think seriously about the decision to exit. So I thank you again for building and running such a strong organization that enables me to exit with confidence in your future and without anything left on the field.  And I can now comfortably take some time away — to renew and reprioritize the years ahead.

This decision began to feel more right as my thinking continued. And I still didn’t want to make it, knowing how hard it would be to leave this wonderful organization and all of you. But I now know it’s the right decision, and true to our Jornaya Code, I needed to be genuine, make the best decision and move forward.

“To bypass grief is to bypass love,” wrote  Joanne Cacciatore in Bearing the Unbearable. So grief is part of the journey if you have experienced love on that journey. I have so much love for Jornation, and so I grieve for leaving it to pursue my next adventure whatever that may be — even while knowing it’s the right decision and with supreme confidence and pride that Jornation will continue to thrive without me here every day.

Thank you to all of Jornation — present and past — for allowing me to live out my dream. My gratitude to all of you overflows, and you have great days ahead of you.

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To all Jornaya Partners, Customers, & Investors: I wish I had had the opportunity to reach out to each of you individually to share this news, but it wasn’t feasible. Like the Jornayans in my life, you too enabled me to live out my dream with LeadiD & Jornaya. A handful of you were there from the beginning — when there were those who thought LeadiD was crazy and couldn’t work — but this didn’t scare you away.  You’ve been great friends to me and Jornation. My gratitude goes out to you in spades.

I look forward to crossing paths with you in the near future. When we do, let’s celebrate the past, celebrate the relationships we’ve forged, celebrate this wonderful life and the love within it!  

I wrote in a LinkedIn post in 2015 about what I’d say if I could talk to my 22 year old self (#IfIWere22) and finished with this advice:

If I were talking to my 22 year old self, I'd tell him he's about to run an incredible marathon with a growing number of amazing people that he'll run with along the way. In order to enjoy the run, he can't sprint or he'll crash; he can't run alone or he won't be fulfilled. Enjoy the pace, enjoy the run, enjoy the company you keep! With that, you will have an enjoyable and fulfilling life.

Jornation, Partners, Customers, and Investors: We have run an incredible marathon and it was my honor to be in your company creating what we did together. Thank you, and I look forward to our journeys intersecting again in the future.