There is a point in every man’s life when the time comes to take stock in his situation, gather inventory of his dreams and dare to do it, take a risk and make his life. I was there in the spring of 2004.
After completing an incredible journey to Athens for the annual Ohio University Sales Symposium, I was facing a long drive back to my real life in NYC. Its not like I didn’t know it was coming… I had been in this place before… and I knew what it felt like. It was time to embrace a risk, disrupt myself and be the man I was meant to be.
That summer my wife and I took a fairy tale trip to Spain: attending weddings in Bilbao, sunning on beaches in Barcelona and touring bull fights in Madrid.
Of course, just before I gave notice and sailed the quick confines of AT&T, to join in starting an innovative business model to the power of 3 creating exceptional outcomes in service delivery.
Join me in the IMS Experience!~
Dean, Frank & Sammy move over, there is a new gang of 21st century performers taking the stage and stealing the show!
Just like their name sakes, this combination of unique personalities and trend setting talents is creating a buzz from underground clubs to concert halls, board rooms and business venues across the nation. But unlike the Rat Pack of old, this group of impudent trouble makers is set on generating economic, political, artistic, athletic, and social reactions in the Greater Ohio Valley!
So who are they? Why are they special? Even better, what are they up to and where are they appearing next?
Catch them when they drop their first live performance, dazzling audiences and the elite with the CreateWV conference in Parkersburg WV this fall!
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!!
That’s how I like to tell people about my experience at Ohio University. During the 90’s the Internet was blowing up, people were making millions starting websites and I was right in the thick of it working at the OU Innovation Centre helping companies like Speciality Books launch online e-commerce sites as early as 1995. At that time, my driving passion was getting out of school to start my own venture that would revolutionize the world!
Once I’d graduated and moved to NYC, I realized the 16 hour days at PricewaterhouseCoopers and institutional constraints of selling for AT&T weren’t all that I had dreamed life out of school would be. So I found myself traveling back early and often to Athens for my OU fix. 9 out of 10 straight homecomings, Sales Centre board meetings, visits with my brother and then my wife’s cousin became yearly highlights. Finally, after toasting screw drivers at homecoming with friends recently relocated from California to Athens, Stephanie and I decided it was time to get back in and moved to the now famous State of Appalachia.
Life has definitely come full circle now as I’ve returned to teach Entrepreneurial Sales and Information & Telecommunication Systems for Ohio University and enjoy a slightly different kind of college party with a craft beer at this week’s Ohio Brew Week. My experience with OU has taught me so much about how to be a professional, a person, a coach and a contributor that I am certain of one thing, I will spend the rest of my life trying to give back the “fair/unfair” advantage that my time then and now at OU has given me!
She was born one evening when the sun didn’t shine
She picked up a shovel and walked to the mine
She loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And her Mother said well a bless my soul!
You load sixteen tons what do you get
A beautiful daughter and no regrets
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to Charlotte Rae Kaple!
She has been making music literally and figuratively in our life since joining us on June 7, 2011 at 9:49pm, 5lbs and full energy. The nurses say she’s been singing all night in the nursery. Certain to steal the show and be the apple of my appalachian eye!