My husband served in the military for 20 years and each time we moved to a new squadron or base, we had an instant family. We were immediately entrenched in bunco night, pool parties, and of course 'spouse whine and wine' nights.

Besides the informal happenings, each unit was assigned a Family Readiness Officer. Our FRO (the military does love their acronyms) Angie, and I planned events and gatherings for families jumpy castles, face painting, music, and barbecues were standard weekend affairs.

The piece de resistance: when Santa flew in on a Harrier Jet for the Christmas party. But was it just all fun and games? The answer is no. These weren't just parties.It was more like sneaking squash into mac and cheese. The squadron commanding officer (CO) welcomed the Marines, and their families, his spouse and kids by his side. The executive officer (XO) lauded exceptional Marines and thanked their families. The FRO talked about the spouses who pitched in to make deployment kits and the like.

The messages?

Family came first. Marines got their job done because their family supported their career. It takes a village.

The civilian world is devoid of FRO's. The role is often an amalgamation of many. The office manager or HR person or maybe a marketing gal will take on event planning, birthday cakes, and new baby gifts. But the role of den mother doesn't really exist like it does in the military. This gig either gets cast aside or someone steps up and owns it.

"At the end of the day, family comes first," said CEO Jamie Clymer, last night at the FRONTSTEPS open house.

He meant it, especially when his adorable daughter grabbed the mic out of his hand and snarked about her dad's "boring" speech. Clymer just smiled and laughed. We all raised a glass and toasted. Our product guy, Tim Smisek, played guitar and crooned to everyone's delight.

FRONTSTEPS is chartering new territory. A new office, new team members, and a bold new take on HOA software. We'll experience bumps along the way and fail forward. We'll have big wins too. But if our open house was any indication, this crew is poised to succeed with verve. We may not have a FRO but we have a CEO (who is ironically, bald) who's sticking to our mantra: one brand, one platform, one team.

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