• Intelligent Shift

A Platform for Passion

Whenever you make a big life change, there is a natural cutting back. Amanda and I cancelled the snack of the month and Massage Envy which we never used. A few magazine subscriptions weren’t renewed. Matthews started adding to his Amazon cart but only buying monthly to be sure he really needed the items (side note- he admits to getting more than 200 boxes a year from Amazon). I actually started taking joy in tightening the belt and looking for wasteful spending. It was really low hanging fruit though. Then something changed . . .

About two months after we started IS, I had lunch with my former COTR. After talking daily for two years, we hadn’t spoken in almost two months. DC life is so sadly transactional. For context, she and I each have a bunch of kids, spouses that work full-time, and are generally balancing the DC grind, or at least pretending to. She’s got the extra military stress, is a mom, and has an extra rug rat so she’s far more advanced at the tightrope than I.


Anyway, I was excited about catching up, sharing kid pictures, and recounting / receiving a few tales on duct-taping life so the kids think we’ve got it all figured out. At the end of our lunch, she told me how cool it was we made the leap to owning a business and handed me a book- Everything that Remains. Minimalism. That’s the focus. Simply get rid of stuff and focus on what matters in life. Sounds idealistic, but I was fresh off my second Spring cleaning of the year (the first one didn’t really take). She had passion about it and the book wasn’t thick so . . .


I don’t love the writing. In fact, I don’t really like the author (Joshua), but I found myself re-reading, then highlighting, and even handed it to my wife. That’s a big step because Amanda reads at an inhuman pace that generally makes me question my own intellect. She passed me up in one night. #depressing


Back to my spring cleaning- Joshua recounts almost my exact story. I asked my oldest to help. She dutifully did until she got bored. Then I made a mistake. “You go play. I am too busy . . . I need to get this done.” She went off. I kept “cleaning.” That’s code for moving around stuff that I rarely use. Mostly shoving it in cabinets and the attic, which are becoming as stuffed as a Primanti’s Sandwich. The book was a mirror in the best way. I thought “why didn’t this guy go play with his kid?” Seeing that guy suck at parenting meant that now I had to deal with me.


I had been cutting things like snack club out, but I was thinking about this wrong. I was looking for things to cut. Nope. Wrong. I should be looking for things to keep. What do I want in my life? For me it’s time with my kids and wife. Then it hit me about Intelligent Shift - Mike, Alissa and I have talked about work/life balance and building something different. Yet when business people say, “What is Intelligent Shift’s focus?” I say some BS about systems engineering, analysis, blah, change management, software development, are you still listening, acquisition support, who cares. . . . . Those statements, while maybe obligatory, aren’t us. Intelligent Shift exists to provide a platform for people. We offer good mission jobs with good pay so you have the financial base and stability to pursue your passion.

Maybe that passion is family. Maybe it’s Church, or crazy adventure racing, or maybe it’s basket weaving. We are building a company to support that passion. In fact, we are going to push you to prioritize it. If you decide to quit and weave baskets, we’ll buy one and display it in the office. Congrats!


Make no mistake though I WILL NOT JOIN YOU IN AN ADVENTURE RACE. I hate running. Mike and Alissa do it every day, I volunteer them.

Thanks for the book, Jess! Good Luck at the Pentagon.


--- Mike DeFede





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