This week marks a milestone for me. One year ago, I officially moved from being an “internal resource” and became “A Consultant”. Those that know me well know that I agonized over this decision before taking the plunge.
My previous gig was awesome. I had cool puzzles to solve, an expectation to be creative and the trust of leadership to do my things my way. Mostly, that’s a rare and beautiful thing, especially when you get all the best tools to play with. Add to that the fact that I was lucky enough to have some really passionate and dedicated folks on my team and, well, you’re in a post that is (if you’re like me) hard to abandon.
Esteban Kolsky was right
But I went for it anyway. And here I stand one year later absolutely certain that it was the best career move I’ve ever made. I love consulting. I love my clients. I love the insane deadlines and my new-found ability to rock a presentation that didn’t exist like 15 minutes ago. I love having (even more) of an inside scoop on what’s going on in the industry. I adore working with the analysts, bloggers, and product developers who are – literally – shaping tomorrow for the rest of us.
While at a Social CRM conference in Silicon Valley last year, I asked Esteban Kolsky how I’d know if “Going Consultant” was the right move for me. I was feeling very fragile as this was in the first weeks of having made the move. I probably looked like a human version of a newly hatched bird experimenting with its wings for the first time. Sad. Uncertain. Needy. Gross.
Anyhoo, Mr. Kolsky looked into my eyes and said (essentially): Give it a year. You’ll never look back.
On Going For It
I’ve given it a year and I’m not looking back. I love the velocity of the SCRM industry. I an thrilled to know and to meet and to work alongside the incredible people who are making magic happen every single day. I love that this community is so connected that in almost any city in almost any country I can reach out to folks I’ve connected with through our shared passion and have lunch, dinner, or coffee with a friend.
I’d wager Mr. Kolsky doesn’t remember this exchange. However, I won’t forget it. His (probably polite) encouragement coupled with my desire to strike out into new frontiers and the support of a truly amazing mentor all helped me to quiet the monsters of doubt. These monsters were the voices in my head who derided me for walking away from the Corporate America sure thing on the fast path to VP-dom. They’re silent now.
Have I been too busy this year? You bet! Have I (still) been a workaholic struggling with work-life balance? Absolutely. But I’m working on it. I really am. And in the meantime, I just love this stuff and I can’t wait to see what the next 365 days holds.
Next Stop: The Hat Store
To those who are on this ride with me: thank you. For your support and encouragement and patience. You know who you are (and if you don’t, I’m taking the next week or so to let all of you know!). Without you, I’m nothing. Really.
So, what do the next 365 days hold? Who knows! I can wager, and I know what I’m excited to work on…but the industry is accelerating and life just isn’t guaranteed. My goal: hang on to my hat and swing for the bleachers.
Category Archives: CRM Evangelization
While catching up with some of my favorite folks at Salesforce.com’s annual AMAZING Dreamforce 2010 global gathering, I kept running into people who were feeling a bit stuck. Some reported that they were excited for the future, but just not sure about “What’s Next” might mean for them. Others knew they had a problem with their NOW situation and were overwhelmed with what, how, when to do about it.
All of them had jobs. That’s the first thing that struck me. My take on this – even in my own NOW – is that we’re uber-smart or uber-lucky to have been delivered to a profession that is in demand now and will be in even greater demand in the future. But this blog isn’t only for people like us. I’m just pointing out that if you’re employed at all today, you’re one of the lucky ones. Don’t forget it and BBlook for ways to give back. In the U.S., walk into a room with 10 people and one of them will be out of work. Another one will most likely be under-employed. If you’re working at all you’re fortunate. Network your colleagues less fortunate on your social feeds. Offer time or resources to helping get people back on their feet. A couple of things will happen as a result: you’ll appreciate your current reality in a new light and good things will happen for other people. It’s a win-win.
About the “What’s Next” dilemma…
Talented people want to be recognized, challenged, and compensated. We want to be a bit famous in our own stratosphere. This means recognized for our contributions and challenged to bring more to the table. These folks need to feel their moral compass is aligned with their employers’ or clients’. If not, it’s a deal breaker. These are people working from a place of passion, and passion ignites innovation when nurtured. So that “What’s Next” feeling is natural for passionate folks.
If you’re one of the people wondering what is just beyond the horizon for you, I want to share what I learned while visiting Alcatraz Island yesterday. While on the penitentiary audio tour, I found myself standing in front of the solitary confinement cells. The Hole. A former inmate incarcerated at Alcatraz explained that while he lived for 23 hours a day in complete darkness and isolation for months at a stretch, his mind was free to travel. He closed his eyes and envisioned light. He left his isolation even if only in his mind and traveled freely where he chose. This was his mechanism to cope with his current reality.
It hit me in a profound way. Not only because this man was expressing so beautifully the human reality of perserverance. but also that his solution is so powerful for all of us.
Even in those moments where we aren’t ready or aren’t able to make a move, our minds are free to wander.
Creative, passionate people: Is your mind free to wander? Or is your mind tied up with circular thinking on unhappiness? Solutions are born when you’re open to conceiving them. Quit ruminating on what you’ve already defined as unacceptable. You’re clear on that, now move on. Seth Grodin has a great blog on using your current reality as a platform for change. Then remember: you don’t have to be able to see every twist and turn and end state clearly to begin the “What’s Next” phase of your journey. Just be open to the journey and the adventure of it all.
“What’s Next” is the adventure you create. Close your eyes and Dream Big.
Well, the numbers are in and we did it! We made great things happen – seemingly IMPOSSIBLE things happen – in 2009. When I say we, I mean all the phenomenal teams my team supports. This spans a pretty wide swath of geography, so it’s no fluke. From Hawaii to Japan to Mainland (Main STREET) USA, we just blew the doors off. How did we do it?
Well, we had to, I suppose.
I’m lucky to work for great leadership that set a pretty clear direction right at the beginning of 2009. We were told to be more efficient, and we did it. We were told not to cut corners, but to keep our eyes peeled for opportunities and jump in with both feet if we found them.
And we found so many opportunities: to do things smarter, to be more direct, to work in closer coordination, to focus on our message and whether or not our customer gained from hearing it. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t, either. So at times we shelved projects and plans that (even though we loved them in theory) just didn’t make sense.
So, when we began to really open our eyes to how to be better, we found so many opportunities for change and refinement that my team literally can’t get to all of them. We’re prioritizing (and re-prioritizing) the most beneficial and moving as quickly as we can. We’re not sacrificing quality (I’m so happy to report) but we are – ahem – sleek…so we sometimes move quickly to implement a less than elegant solution that delivers while knowing we’ll come back “later” to make it as pretty as we’d like it to be in a perfect world (which this one ain’t).
In spite of the drama, we hit some remarkable new heights and one of the pinnacles is simply: We made it.
Being able to monetize or throw meaningful metrics at a deployed (or better yet) proposed project is a luxury that should be a staple in most organizations. I find myself defending technology on a daily basis and repeating the mantra of one of my favorite CRM cohorts, “You can’t automate your way out of a bad process”. Poorly scoped inherited projects handed over with little or no documentation are the norm in the ready, FIRE, aim! workplace and I gotta lament that those inherited bottlenecks are doing wonders for my insomnia.
Now, I love a puzzle as much as the next CRM / Process geek….but at times the “hurry up and deploy, we’ll fix it later” double-edged sword really gets me down. Doing the right things in the right way is usually perceived as slower and more often than not actually the complete opposite with less man-hours invested, much less heartache for the client, added value for the customer (and ain’t that the whole deal, really?), and the dev / ops team knows what was rolled out and how to support it. Well.
Corporate America, I love you! You’re getting scrappier and hungrier as a by-product of our global crisis. But I’m offering you this unsolicited advice: think it through before you demand it done. You’ll like the results, I promise. And plus, if everyone in my team gets hit by a bus (hb2) , a new team will be able to come in and pick up where we left off without so much as a hiccup.
Trust me, CA, it’s the only way to REALLY get where you’re trying to go.