We’ve Got This

By Heather Wentler

When I met Amy at Startup Weekend Madison in 2012, I remember thinking, “Who is this woman and why is it important for her to be part of my life right now?” That’s not unusual for me because I’m always trying to figure out how to fit pieces together and see the path for what comes next. But I’m also usually much more guarded and tend not to let people in, especially when I first meet them. Usually, my internal dialogue is saying, “You’re here today, but if you come back tomorrow and the next then I’ll start letting you in.”

It was the opposite with Amy. I found myself reaching out to her, asking what we can do next, and when we could hang out again. From those very first interactions with her, I had a feeling that she was going to change my world, but I never expected to be where I, and we, would be eight years after that first interaction.

Amy was a natural leader. She was magnetic. She brought people together who would never normally meet, and inspired them to work together for change. Her infectious positive attitude, beautiful and genuine smile, and “take no shit from anyone” personality made people believe that they could do anything.

It’s no secret that Amy and I had our own bumps along the way as friends and partners within Doyenne. It’s also completely normal for two imperfect people to struggle to find a harmonious balance of their superpowers. We chose to share our story openly and honestly because we hoped it would encourage other founders who were dealing with internal conflict to know the experience is normal. 

But even when trust broke down, or we needed to be in our separate corners to cool down, we always had the highest level of respect for each other. We knew what each other were thinking so often it was scary. We also had a healthy dose of competition between each other that made us always bring our A-game to every day at Doyenne. And we were each other’s biggest cheerleaders and close friends.

As I sit here writing this article it’s about 5 p.m. on a weekday evening. This time of day is the hardest for me right now because it’s when Amy and I would typically find ourselves in one of our offices unwinding from the long day. 

We’d sit on the couch or sprawl on the floor and catch up on gossip, vent about the latest story one of our members had shared about her experience as a woman entrepreneur, or just talk as friends. She would tell me about all of Aaron and Jocelyn’s latest accomplishments in life. We would commiserate over how we just don’t understand our husbands and why they do what they do. And we’d help each other undo the endless messages we’d encountered that day telling us we’re not enough, we can’t do that, or we’ve taken this thing too far.

Since I got the call from Amy’s husband telling me she is no longer physically with us, I keep hearing the same Amy phrase over and over in my head, “You’ve Got This.” She and I spent the last 18 to 24 months building the foundation for what comes next for Doyenne. Amy set the destination and, as I always do, I’ve mapped the path to reach that destination. 

Before we left for vacation, I was sitting in Amy’s office thinking about the plan we’d mapped out for 2020. I said, “I feel really good about the year ahead,” and Amy turned to me and said, “Me. Too.” 

I’m devastated that I won’t get to see Amy sitting in the office next to mine, or writing furiously on our whiteboards, or dancing on stage at our next event, but I know she will be with me every step of the next journey. 

I know that she’s still with us because I’ve been hearing the stories from so many of you about how Amy has been in your thoughts and encounters. Those stories have helped me through some very tough days. Amy is everywhere! She’s no longer constrained to only help one person or group at a time, and instead can be with all of us whenever we need her most, telling us what we know but desperately need to hear: “You’ve Got This.”

Amy’s legacy does not end with the helicopter crash in Hawaii. Her legacy lives on in you, in me, and everyone who she touched during her 47 years on this planet.

I promise Amy that I won’t let her down. She still might not always agree with me and the decisions that I make, but I won’t let her down. I also promise you, our entire community, to do my best to not let you down. Doyenne will continue to move forward, to push back on “traditional” models of how and what entrepreneurship looks like, and to continue to cut a new path for people to join in and make our entrepreneurial ecosystems into places where women entrepreneurs from ALL backgrounds thrive.

I’ve Got This. You’ve Got This. We’ve Got This!

Amy loves you, and she is ALWAYS with you.