There’s a Cowboy in the Jungle

I felt a little bit like that Jimmy Buffet song when I landed in the Big Apple in 1998.  The Dot.com Boom was on but after 4 years doing technology consulting at OU culminating in an internship with Microsoft to launch Project ’98, I was turned off by tech and interested in broadening my horizons.  Pricewaterhouse’s Financial Advisory Services group in New York City seemed to be a great place to begin.  By the time I started the firm had become PricewaterhouseCoopers and the market for bankruptcy and turnaround wasn’t exactly poppin.  I did learn a lot from my time with PwC, mostly about attention to detail, valuation analysis and how to work long hours for free meals, but after one particularly long 48 hour day, I realized it was time to go back to my original calling in technology sales.

A friend of mine from OU was working at AT&T in Florida and got my resume into the HR manager in NYC.  After a raucous, blue collar interview experience, it was obvious results mattered, not hours logged or ivy league politicking, and I knew this was the home for me.  No bones about it, selling is hard and in the competitive landscape after the Telecom Deregulation Act of 1996, AT&T’s years of monopoly control made it an easy target for startups to offer customers a choice.  After a young lifetime of success, I’d personally never experienced so much failure.  I was hearing “no” so much I even resorted to listening to Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” just to help figure out what I was doing wrong.  I stuck to it though, through big white whale losses and constantly changing quotas.  I invested myself into the technology sales profession and my clients’ best interests quickly learning to be an engineer as much as a therapist building relationships based on long term commitments.  By 2001 my luck had started to turn with my first big sale of an new fiber installation for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and by my third year I was literally hitting the numbers out of the park as my branch nominated to send me to the company’s annual President’s conference of top sales people.  Little did I know that one of the deals from that successful year would introduce me to my future business partner, John Haselmann, and future IMS client, Ken Levonaitis.

To that point, I wasn’t just sitting on the sidelines watching the entrepreneurial hey day unfold.  The explosive power of the Internet was at hand and together with several partners from my OU days, I launched a new venture, TeamDynamix, to be one of the earliest online portals for project management and team collaboration.  I continued on full time with AT&T while my partners dedicated themselves to growing the venture.  Today the company has a ten year track record of success and just recently graduated from the Ohio State University business incubator.  I was also thinking long term about my educational objectives and after moving to Hoboken in 2002 began my Masters Degree in Telecommunications Management with the Stevens Institute of Technology.  In total I spent five great years selling for AT&T finally ending my career there as a Global Account Executive covering Ernst & Young before making the decision to take the plunge and follow my true serial startup destiny!!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “There’s a Cowboy in the Jungle

  1. J. James Gary

    Like you I came from the Midwest and did consultative project work prior to joining AT&T in the NYC sales center. This was my first real sales role…and it seemed pretty hardcore at the time.

    I’ll directly credit a ton of my entrepreneurial success to my AT&T experience, it was a great place to learn selling of large complex enterprise tech deals and to see how to run (and not run) a business.

    I’d like to see you post something on the “raucous, blue collar interview experience”…

  2. Stephanie Kaple

    can’t believe you did all of that even though I was with you the entire way. it seems like a long time ago but it sure is a great story. you should add to our resume “story teller” bc these posts keep getting better. the video is key – kudos to NATE!

  3. Jennifer Needs

    Very cool! I must say that I agree with Stephanie, you do tell a great story.
    The video was great also, I am very impressed with this page. Congratulations on all of your success so far, you just may end up as a motivational speaker before this is all said and done.
    My best,
    Jennifer Needs

    • Thanks Jennifer! If there is something I love to do, it is entertain while educating. Story telling is a long lost art with a lot of power to do both. I appreciate that you enjoyed this tall tale!

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