10 Years Later…

It was May 5, 2011. Cinco De Mayo. The date of the infamous “Rouge Marketing Event”. Nick Gentile coined the term, and it always brings a smile to my face. He also coined the term “Starve-n-Learn”, and that too brings a smile to my face, but that’s another post altogether.

We were all excited for May 5. Office 365 was going to be available the following month. This was huge…a real game-changer for all of us. One of my hats at the firm where I was working was “Director of Marketing”, and I planned an event at the Microsoft facility in Farmington for Nick so we can bring our larger clients and prospects together to talk about this amazing new technology. Big fish. 1000-5000 seaters. I’d tee it up, Nick would drive it home, and our incredibly talented technical team would make it happen. My plan was to tie “Cinco De Mayo” to an event every year, and maybe (just maybe) I’d be able to catch up to those knuckleheads up the road that used to eat my lunch every year with this event called WorkSmart. Little did I know at the time that this little lunch-n-learn would serve as the turning point for the next 10 years.

5000-seat deals never really got my juices flowing. Let me put it another way…it bores the hell out of me. I’m all about small business and always have been. So since I was just going to be sitting on my hands all day I took it upon myself to leverage the marketing spend and invite some of my small business clients and prospects to a “separate” event on the same day and location. “Small Business Sales” was another hat I wore at the time, so it made sense. Then I thought…let me do a third session of my own that evening up at the Microsoft facility in Waltham, MA.

I may not look like the brightest bulb on the tree but I really understood what Microsoft was doing here, and I could talk about it from a technical perspective, an end-user perspective, and a business perspective. “Never go through an Exchange upgrade again!” Got it. “Pick and choose your licenses as your needs change”. Got it. “Turn your Cap Ex into an Op Ex!” Got it…got it…got it. Better still, “Mr. SMB…do you see what we’re showing those big companies in the other room? Guess what? You can have it too.”

I’ll admit, I didn’t tell many of my colleagues about either one of my sessions. I didn’t think I needed to. Who am I kidding…I just didn’t want to. I was getting increasingly frustrated with something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and my “give-a-damn factor” at the time was hovering somewhere around 0.000, give or take. I just knew if couldn’t run something soon the way I wanted to run it things might start to look like that scene from The Office when Jim buried Andy Bernard’s stapler in Jell-O. I’m exaggerating, of course, but looking back it’s fair to say the I did go a little rouge. 😊

The day turned out to be an amazing success for all of us. For the rouge portion I remember implementing some of the marketing tricks I learned from Jeremy Epstein and I think every one of my morning SMB attendees ended up becoming a customer, along with a few from the nighttime session as well. It was so successful Jeremy asked to feature me at his presentation at WPC a few weeks later. Not bad.

After coming down from the high of that day, things got worse for me. I was, in a word, miserable. I’m sure I wasn’t too much fun to be around either, but I still couldn’t quite figure out why. Lots of people tried to help. I realize that more now than I did at the time. Would more money help? Nah. An assistant perhaps? No, but thanks.

I think Colonel Jessup said it best in “A Few Good Men”. You remember the line. “I don’t want money, and I don’t want medals. What I do want is to feel the way I felt during the Rogue Marketing Event.” (Google it 😊 .)

I want to feel that high again.

I want to develop a plan based on nothing but gut instinct and feel that sense of accomplishment when I exceed my goals. I want to love what I do. And I want to fall flat on my face every now and then because I know I’ll bounce back stronger. That’s what I want, today, tomorrow, and every day after that for the next 30 years.

10 years later I’m doing exactly that. My team and I work with incredible organizations from across the United States and down as far as the Dominican Republic, helping them leverage amazing products from Microsoft like Dynamics 365, Power BI, and Power Automate, and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface. And I continue to surround myself with people who tell me what I need to hear instead of what I want to hear. People like my brother Dave, who convinced me to write up a Business Plan 10 years ago. “I don’t need a Business Plan…I know exactly how I’m going to do this”, I said. “Then it shouldn’t take very long.” I read and adjust that document 4 times every year. Or Chris Luise, who can listen to me bat around an idea for 20 minutes with complete patience and sum everything up with one question…“What the hell are you waiting for?”. Or Ed Pocock, who listened to me say, in fact promise that I would never have employees, and that I don’t want to grow…I just want to be a guy that’s really good at what he does, only to watch him look back at me time and time again with that sheepish grin as if to say “well aren’t you just adorable?”. “You can do both.” You were right Ed. Happy? 😊 Or Connie Biskamp, who will respond to a text at 8:30 at night with a phone call because she knew I really needed to talk something through. You have absolutely no idea how much I rely on you Connie. Or my rock, Bethany, who’s been listening to my nonsense for almost 35 years, and has always had an amazing ability to leave me fully convinced that half of the ideas I come up with are in fact original thoughts. I don’t know where my career path would have taken me without you. P1 Automation perhaps? Not. A. Chance. Without you I’d undoubtedly be that miserable guy on Aisle 12 that belittles customers for putting a 20 amp circuit breaker and a spool of 14-2 Romex in the same shopping cart. “Ya trying to burn the house down?!?!? Grumble…grumble…grumble…”.

To Ryan Plourde, who always finds the time to take a call to work through an idea with me. There was a time when I had completely given up on Dynamics 365 and resorted to building our own CRM System from the ground up. You helped me believe in this technology again and changed our business for the better. To Anya Ciecierski, who has literally listened to me talk for an hour straight on more than one occasion about marketing ideas, to a point where I was sure you had fallen asleep, only to hear you say “I’ve got some great content here”. And then you prove it. I absolutely love working with you both as we help one another grow.

To my son Ben, and Tyler, Connie, Dan S., Anya, and Olivia who do the heavy lifting that makes our practice shine. You take a challenge and over-deliver 100% of the time, and I hope you know how much I appreciate everything you do.

To our amazing partners Erik, Chris, Erin, Kristy, George, Anya, Connie, Ed, Dave, Billy, Dan C., Mark, Ryan, Craig, and Thomas. I want you all to know that over 80% of our revenue (EIGHTY…DASH…ZERO PERCENT) over the past 10 years is the direct result of a recommendation from you. Money has never motivated me, but a recommendation from you is like jet fuel and I cannot thank you enough.

And finally to all of our incredible clients. Thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me and my team and letting us help you grow your own businesses, particularly during these trying times.

Stay tuned to find out where this journey will take us all over the next 10 years. It’s going to be fun!