Is it worth it?

AUG 14, 2013

It is an odd feeling coming home late at night after a long day of work and having the house be completely silent. I hear only the sound of my shoes clicking on the hardwood floor as I walk down the dark hallway to my kitchen. I had mixed emotions about it tonight. Normally after traveling that feeling of getting home is so good that it supersedes anything else. The kids run to hug me, my wife handing me the baby, I hear about their days…But tonight I missed the 6pm flight and had to change to the 8:30pm flight which got me to my front door around 10:45pm.

Silence.

It caused me to have one of those “is it all worth it” moments. Have you ever had one of those?

It is odd to feel that way because today of all days was truly overflowing with potential. I had two amazing meetings that could lead to massive opportunity for Trace3 and PoP; but, it caused me to miss out an entire day in the life of my family.

So, is it all worth it?

I need to think through a few things in order to get to an answer.

Why am I striving so hard? Why am I pushing to create and change when everything is going well? I mean I could just sit back, go with the status quo, and coast! Hell, why not even go for early retirement! My wife explained it so well to me once when we talked about retiring at some point. She said, “What kind of example or role model will you be to the kids if they do not see you striving for something. If you stay home all day our kids get the wrong impression about how you have struggled and persevered to provide for us the way you have. You need to get out of the house…” (okay maybe I am paraphrasing but that was the gist of it)

The truth is I have to strive. Some of it is so the kids can see the effort needed to overcome obstacles; but of a lot of it is for me. I want to strive for greatness. I want to be relevant to the business. I want to innovate markets. I want to create undeniable value. I want to create jobs. I want to mentor others and help them surpass what they thought possible in their careers. I want to have a legacy that lives on past me…

It is on days like today I truly understand that realizing these “wants” is REALLY hard work. Not hard work in the truest sense. It is the kind of work that is more emotionally than physically taxing. You have to overcome things on a daily basis: risk, doubt, rejection, long hours with no rewards, fear or letting other down, fear of succeeding (and knowing the next stage will be even harder). Then after all that, you miss a flight and can’t even get home in time to see the family. How could all that be worth it?

Well, this is what I was doing. Today, I went to go meet with my golden goose. The one that lays golden eggs. (he is probably going to kill me for calling him that)

His name is Partick Lencioni and he is one of the top minds in the world when it comes to Organizational Health. He carved out 4 hours for me with him and his team and it was truly an honor to get the time to whiteboard out potential go to market strategies with him. We discussed Trace3 and how the offsites we have done with Patrick’s company “The Table Group” have changed everything at Trace3. Trace3 will grow from $300M to well over $400M this year. And we are doing it with less reps than last year…I believe I can definitively prove our growth is because of The Table Group. We discussed creating a second tangible engagement tool for The Table Group by having them use PoP as part of their offering. I explained how I have been completely focused on “Value Expansion” since we did our initial Table Group offsite in Q4 of last year and PoP was the idea that stood at the top of our value chain if rolled out correctly. The dialogue was exciting and invigorating. We didn’t really discuss money; we just discussed value and helping clients. It was so cool.

While there, Patrick and team also fed me. First, Rolos were on the conference room table. Then he offered PoP Tarts…So strangely prefect for Hayes Drumwright were these items I asked Patrick if he liked Dr. Pepper. His response, “That is my favorite soft drink.” I was stunned and could feel a black hole open up somewhere in the universe. But I digress.

During lunch something crazy happened. We started discussing Patrick’s business and the inflection point that they have come to due to all the incredible success they have achieved. Twenty minutes into it I realized what was happening. I was accidently offering advice on how to scale to one of the brightest people I have ever met. I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and say I got punk’d. He didn’t. Patrick and team seemed genuinely interested in my comments. They were gracious, humble, willing to learn, and very smart. I am not sure what the final outcome will be for PoP and The Table Group, but I feel I am better for having spent time with his team. I know they found value in what I am attempting and they can help me going forward. It was a great meeting – but nobody laid a golden egg…

I think that is why I had a tough time when I got home tonight. When you start a new venture, you always have this silly hope that it will be easy. Or maybe because you have more credibility and experience people will flock to the concepts and ideas you throw out. Maybe you will get handed a golden egg. Turns out business does not work like that. Trace3 was started in 2002 with 100 dollars and will gross over $400,000,000 in 2013. There were glorious moments for sure; but there were also a ton of tough ones. There were even some ugly ones. Overall though, it has been an amazing journey. I have watched our VC Briefing product Chad and team have developed evolve this year. I see the travel, the thought, the effort, and the chaos of creating this product from thin air and watching the amazing value it is providing our teams and our clients. Chad has made it look pretty easy but no one handed him a golden egg either. We are in a constant battle to prove we are worthy. Chad is probably reading this post nodding his head. I am sure there are many nights (like tonight where he is in Silicon Valley instead of at home with his family) where he wonders if it is worth it. Do the teams understand what he is trying to create for them? Will they really take advantage of it? Will they spread the word and actively help bring clients? Sandy has started Trace3’s EDU practice from thin air. I am sure she has had these moments of eggless doubt. Anoj with the Cloud initiative…all the BAMs…EVERY rep that has started with nothing when they joined Trace3…All have had moments where they had to wonder if it would work and if it is all worth the struggle. At different points in time you might have different answers to whether it is worth it or not.

Here are some constants I can count on. Trace3 strives for greatness. We strive to be relevant both as a company and as individuals. We lift each other up and help anywhere we can. We are constantly evolving and because of this creating something truly special. This inspires me and make me think it might be worth it.

I told our story twice today – first to The Table Group, second to the SVP of WW Channels at VMware (and 4 of his reports). In each case my audience saw something. They saw my enthusiasm. They saw my heartfelt belief that we are different and innovating the markets we choose to impact.

More importantly, they saw REAL value. Because of that value, I think both will engage with us. We are not a “VAR” anymore. We no longer just look to improve upon or replace sunk costs. We are so much more. We are an Evolution Partner. The products I talked about in this blog post combined with the products that are coming move us so high up the value chain that we are getting exposed to the real business pain our clients are experiencing. We will solve it with partnerships and innovation: Andreessen, Greylock, The Table Group, BAMs, our Big Data Team, Switch, ScaleThem, our Cloud initiative, PoP… Who else can offer this? No One.

One more question needs to be answered before I can answer “is it all worth it” definitively. That question is “Am I doing all this alone?” Because if I am, my QOL will fall apart. My chances of success without a support system are so much lower. My hope of enjoyment and sharing the successes with peers become more limited.

Well, I am not doing it alone.

And neither are you. It will be HARD work, but it is 100% worth it if we do it together. If we engage, help each other, support our new initiatives, re-establish our brand with our long standing clients, and focus on value expansion Trace3 will innovate this market.

Tomorrow morning I will tell my kids I had an amazing day today and that I missed them. I will be home for dinner tomorrow and hear about their adventures. I will be at date night on Thursday with my wife and thank her for supporting me and being an amazing mother to my kids.

At the same time, I will show them with action (not just words) that a team of engaged people who support each other can do just about anything they set their minds too.

Maybe, just maybe, we will be able to inspire everyone around us to strive for greatness too. Wouldn’t that be something.

The fighter still remains.

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