My last corporate job was a great one. I spent four years in a startup tech company which ended up becoming the market leader. It was called CCBN and now is part of Thomson Financial. What was great about this position was that, for the first time, I was a part of the growth and development of a market, a brand, and a company truly from the “ground up”. When I started, i was employee #32 and when I moved on, we had more than ten times that in the organization. It was very exciting and there were lots of new opportunities and “firsts”.
I came to this company because I needed a job in Boston while my only child was attending college and was a college athlete. I sold my house and moved 3000 miles to a new city – very different that the slow moving Northwest I was accustomed to all my life. My background was sales and sales management. CCBN gave me the opportunity to create the first inside sales team to support the outbound sales reps. Two years later, I created the first corporate university supporting business goals there.
Looking back, it truly felt like a four year vacation – I was able to commute by bike and boat into Boston (THE way to go, if you ask me) during the summer and Fall months – plus I created two new positions and was given creative license to make something happen. So it was the best of times. Also, while I was there, I drove to every nearby state and knew my time was limited in the Northeast so I had better make the most of it. That made for a vibrant life for me.
The other thing it did though, was show me that even when I am doing what I love, in the corporate world I am still at the mercy of the “upper echalon’s” opinions – and often these opinions were a guess at best, off-base, or actually mean spirited. I found the politics to be repugnant and so unappealing that I vowed once I launched my own business – I’d never work with clients, vendors, or peers that I didn’t like, respect, and value.
This experience helped me build a foundation for my own company’s success. Since 2001, I have not compromised my vow of business partners – and have always found great people to work with. I don’t have to “settle” and even be disingenuous – I can be me all the time. Who I am at work is not different than who I am outside of work. I love that.
In terms of what I do – I knew sales inside and out. I knew sales management, but didn’t want to be a manager. I new training and employee development after being submerged in building a fine corporate university with management training, new employee assimilation, and ongoing education for all. So the shift for me was to figure out what I really loved the most of all of this – and it is this: teaching others how to move themselves forward, and being on stage – performing and entertaining — which I accomplish as a trainer, coach and speaker.
I think everyone needs those great corporate experiences for growth and learning – and at some point you get to the crossroads where you decide you want more of the bureaucracy, or you are ready to pave your own way. For me, it was very clear when that time had come. The great thing is that CCBN became my first client – which definitely helped in my transition into entrepreneurship.