Looking Back on 10 Years…
Christmas is right around the corner – and yesterday was the 10th Anniversary of Stelzl Visionary Learning Concepts…
It was just about 11 years ago that my wife encouraged me to seriously consider leaving Dimension Data to start my own business – doing something new.
At the time I was running the North American Security Practice, working hard to build a presence in the U.S. for a company whose primary business was in South Africa, with a strong following in the Asian markets under the name, DataCraft.
Traveling almost 100% of my time, our practice had grown from a start-up division, to over 30 Million in just 3 short years!
I joined Dimension Data as part of 7 acquisitions made by Didata to enter the US market in 2000. My role with Premier Systems Integrators (one of the 7) had been one of helping rightsize and prepare for this acquisition – which meant streamlining the business, downsizing some of the groups, documenting some of the processes, and working on a business plan to demonstrate our vision to perspective buyers.
After the acquisition I was looking for a new opportunity inside this global company. Having worked with a team in the past to build a 75 Million Dollar Reseller (with a strong focus on security – and later sold to Forsythe), I was interested in getting back into the security market.
I’ll never forget the senior management’s response to this idea – “Is security still an opportunity for growth?” Short sighted to say the least – they let me begin work in this area as a one man team. Within a few months I had 7 on my team, and 33 Million Dollars later we were off and running.
Three years later it was time to move on and do something new – and more profitable to me personally. I spent the next 6 months talking with peers, exchanging ideas, getting counsel, and develop a program to help sales and marketing professionals overcome many of the obstacles that had developed in the market between the 90s and 2000 – if you recall, the 90s were booming with respect to high-tech companies and the reseller market!
It was December 17th, 2003. I was to meet with my manager at Dimension Data – he was coming in to visit our office in Charlotte NC. But I was sick…fever, headache, the whole works. So I called in sick, and asked that we meet by phone.
At 10 A.M that morning, we got on the phone to meet – he and one other person – and unexpected guest from HR. I was at 150% of my number for the year – but for some reason it dawned on me – and I said, without hesitation,
“Today’s my last day isn’t it?”
My manager, surprised by my words, mumbled, “Yes, how did you know.”
I simply replied, “I don’t know, but I’m ready to go…thanks for everything, it’s been great, but I am ready to go.”
They didn’t have any real explanation, but it didn’t really matter…I was ready to launch and I took it as providence and announced to my family, “We’re starting Stelzl Visionary Learning Concepts, Inc. – today!”
(Note: Since that meeting my previous employer has hired me to come back to conduct training, provide coaching, and has recommended that their sales organization read my books…and even asked if I would be interested in coming back…I’m not.)
Changes can be hard – but this change was the launchpad for ten years that I am extremely grateful for. There were hard times getting started – as there always are with start-ups. When things looked bad, I would just check in with colleagues from the past and ask them how business was going – more often than not I would hear complaints about compensation plans, being passed over for promotions, company politics, and more…I always left these calls encouraged and determined that we would make it.
Only about 4% of the entrepreneurs out there actually make the 10 year mark…and I’ grateful to be sitting here in my office looking back over a very profitable year.
I want you to know I don’t attribute this to my own brilliance – but rather to the encouragement and prayers of my wife and children when things were hard, the sacrifices they made in years where I traveled extensively, and to the many friends and family members who have given me wise counsel, and to those clients who have stayed with me, recommended me, and who have benefited from the work I’ve done with them – encouraging me to keep on building, developing, and innovating.
So to all of you who regularly read and participate in my programs – or who at some point, will,… thank you and have a Merry Christmas. I am looking forward to more amazing things in the coming year!
© 2013, David Stelzl