JUN 06, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I am a big believer in luck. I think it occurs all the time. The question is what do you do with it when spotted. Do you seize the luck life hands you or watch it pass by saying what if? Do you see ideas that you were lucky enough to think of turn into huge companies and say those millions should be yours? For instance, I have thought for years that making life size holograms have about a million applications and I should find a hologram expert and make one. (I was lucky enough to watch Star Wars which gave me the brilliant idea.) At Logan Airport yesterday there was a version 1.0 projection of a person explaining how to get through the security line… I shook my fist at the hologram, then took my shoes off and got my laptop out for the scanner like she told me too…

Or maybe it was not an idea. Maybe instead it was a lucky life experience. Or maybe you have consistently bad luck. We all have those friends right? The ones that just can’t seem to get a break and life just never lets them get ahead…

You see luck occurs in moments in our lives both bad and good. It allows us the choice to play either the Victim or the Hero. I had a 1% chance of getting cancer in my early 20’s. Nailed it! I wanted to be a millionaire by 30…I accomplished it (on paper) by 27 then lost it all by 28… (Note to any setting silly monetary goals – Don’t set a goal to get a certain amount. Set the goal to keep it. Stupid Hayes…) I got a medical test 3 years ago (15 years before I was supposed to) and they found a cancerous polyp in my body…But they found it 5 years before it developed into something that could hurt me and removed it immediately! Lucky!

I can go even farther back than that and spot luck. My parents got divorced when I was 11. It was tough and taught me to compartmentalize pain and problems. I instead focused on video games centered on taking over the world and tried to make money via mowing lawns, paper routes, and anything else I could think of. I read fantasy books about normal or troubled kids turning into kings by overcoming incredible odds. I studied religion and never stopped asking questions. I wanted to feel something in my chest that wasn’t there before. I wanted something to save me. I eventually decided that “something” needed to be me. Lucky.

I met Adriel Lares on the swim team in Alvin, Texas where we had relocated to from Nor Cal during my freshman year of high school. We became fast friends and played Bard’s Tale, Ultima IV, and Lords of Conquest. Games that involved strategy, building teams, and conquering territories. I was only in Texas one year then left. Lucky.

A year later after moving in a summer swim league I saw a girl in a green cap and Swedish goggles in the lane next to me. She would not give me the time of day. 10 years later I married her. Lucky.

I found Bret MacInnes at my first job after 1.5 months of learning how to do things the wrong way in sales. In one sales call he showed me how to do things the right way. I did not hire him. I did not know him before that sales call. But a future presented itself to me after my boss partnered me with him. He gave me the courage to start my first tech company. Lucky.

That first company failed in glorious fashion demolishing all financial stability for my family in my first year of marriage. One year later, with 5 twenty dollar bills I walking into a Bank of America and opened a bank account for Trace3. Lucky…

I could keep going. Some of the things I just wrote about are probably some of the most painful things that have happened in my life. They were in the periods you could call bad luck streaks. You probably would have found it totally rational for me to finish any of those paragraphs with “so I gave up” or “I couldn’t handle it all” or “I broke down.” Turns out at points in time in all the moments I described I did want to quit. But all those moments turned out to be just that “moments.” The cancer taught me that…Lucky.

What followed those weak “moments”…moments later, days later, weeks later…were moments of optimism. Optimism that if I had my health things could and would get better. That same optimism is what eventually brought my first company to ruin. Optimism that the bad would turn good and the good would never end. Turns out, success does not occur because of optimism.

Life is not a game of luck. In fact, life is not a game at all. Life presents us with luck. What we choose to do with it, how we perceive it, good or bad. That is our choice.

As I write this post I am on a plane coming back from the Cisco Partner council. The overriding theme was change. Change to take advantage of the next phase of the internet. Cisco is making huge moves to become more of a software company. There was the word “Survival” on two of John Chambers’ (Cisco CEO) slides. He laid out a compelling story on why to bet on him. Yet I sensed a strong underlying theme from Cisco that the partners whom they so rely on and believe in are in true danger. They are even going as far as to write a playbook for all their partners on how to “evolve” their businesses to “survive” the new market dynamics. It made me smile. For all the Cisco partners. – Lucky.

I did not want to go to the Partner Council because of the time it would take away from work and family. But luckily, I got to hear John Chambers speak once on stage and once at a very candid lunch where he took questions. I realized in listening to him that I am not as good as I thought I was. I realized that I have so much to learn about truly leading in times of struggle and times of success. There was a genuineness to him I have never witnessed before in a CEO. An intensity that was contagious, inspiring, and frankly a bit awe-inspiring. He considers his partners family, and he actually MEANS it. He is even trying to write playbooks to save them…17 years in the industry working with every manufacturer and I believe he cares as much about partners as his Cisco employees. He convinced me without me ever even shaking his hand. Fascinating. To witness that and learn from it…Lucky.

All of us at Trace3 are lucky to have met each other. Our partners and clients are just as lucky. You see we present to each other luck in timing.

Here is some proof.

Trace3 can save millions of dollars for most every large client we have because of a product called CORE. Intuit forced us kicking and screaming 5 years ago into a relationship that eventually led to Trace3 discovering CORE. It is a product that no one in the market can compete with. Shocking but true and I know how incredulous that statement sounds. Trace3 started taking CORE to market in May and the response is nothing short of astounding. Multiple clients saving more than $5M per year without changing or adding anything… Lucky???

After 4 years of trying to get stock in our New Technology start ups (think Riverbed, Data Domain) Adriel, whom I had met in Texas in 1986, introduced me to Asheem Chandna at Greylock and InstantScale was born. Because of the Greylock relationship we were introduced to Andreessen Horowitz.

Trace3 is now taking 2-3 CIO’s and their teams per month up to Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley to do briefings on the best new startups in the industry. It allows our clients to show their teams a way to proactively look at new tech in a time effective manner. Lucky???

These briefings have proven so amazingly valuable almost all that have gone have returned to do a second briefing with new team members from other divisions. Clients are finding solutions to problems they did not know they have. Companies like Sky High, Platfora, and Firescope were found because of this chain of events. Cloud Security, Massively simplified Big Data Analytics, and true Business dashboards for IT. Lucky???

Someone I work with randomly gave me a book called “The Advantage.” It crushed my brain so I scheduled an offsite with Patrick Lencioni’s company “The Table Group” in the fall of 2012 and our organization will never be the same. I am now cascading the offsites down to different groups in the org. We are experiencing explosive growth now that we have a management team that is accountable to each other as never before. We will be adding a Table Group offering to augment the large scale EDU engagements we do for our major clients. We are doing this because evolving our clients IT departments to be relevant in the new market starts at the top and ALL on the team must be committed to that process. The Table Group will give management the tools to help define a new end state for IT that will allow then to compete in the new markets. Trace3 EDU will execute on the curriculum we have developed to augment this process. Patrick liked this so much he recommended Inc Magazine interview Trace3 and we were mentioned in the cover story of the June edition. Lucky???

Intuit, Adriel ,and getting handed “The Advantage”…All lucky for sure. But without Bret maybe there is no Trace3. Or maybe that girl in the pool who was willing to bet on those five twenties with me was the luck that mattered.

Maybe there is no luck and life is predetermined. Maybe all things “happen for a reason.”

Or maybe, just maybe, together (Clients, Partners, and Trace3) we have seized the “luck” and executed. Then after executing we focused on a foundational offering we could build upon. Then we thought more and more about how to tie CORE, Silicon Valley, Sunk Costs, Cloud, Education and Services all together to tackle real business problems. Maybe success is not about luck or an idea or a chain of events. Maybe it is about calculated risk taking, execution, and a willingness to pivot when necessary. Maybe it is about constant learning and a willingness to Evolve.

You see, each of you reading this could write me a post EXACTLY like this one about your life. About the “luck” you seized or let drift by that put you where you are today. Regardless of my chain of events or yours…or your belief in luck or streaks – there is an undeniable fact.

We are here right now. Trace3 employees, our Clients and Partners. We have an opportunity and a chasm in each hand right now.

We have an OPPORTUNITY to create a potential future. A future where we focus on value and making ourselves better. A future where we evolve and lay claim to the value we provide that NO ONE else has. Our competitors will chase us. But they will not have all the pieces for a while. Point and case – Cisco is giving VARs their first playbook. Lucky for us it is only a playbook getting VARs to become cloud builders. A playbook focused on helping them survive. Trace3 has written a playbook every year for the last 7 years. All the way back to 2006. A book that is focused on the foundational success of all three clients. Our Playbooks focus not just on surviving, but protecting the family and creating massive opportunity.

It is not luck Trace3 will grow from $320M to over $420M in 2013.

It is our relentless focus is on creating VALUE for all. Solutions, Services, Programs, and RELATIONSHIPS that create value. Silicon Valley, CORE, Cloud Security, Big Data Analytics, Business Dashboards combined with traditional plays like Converged Infrastructure with the likes of Cisco, EMC, Netapp, VMware, Symantec, F5, Riverbed, Palo Alto.

Together, if we trust each other, we can sustain our momentum and more importantly create distance between ourselves and our competitors.

Let’s get out there execute on the advantages we have.

Oh, and good luck.

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