The re-Introduction of MindIQ.com: The comeback kid. (And not sure about the “kid” part…)
A few life lessons for every technology executive and would-be entrepreneur.
In 2010, after a ton of business success, along with my share of mistakes, and earning an INC 500 award, I decided to retire from the company I founded and ran, with much help, MindIQ. There’s more to this story than this post can hold, or you need to hear. However, at this stage in my career it’s time to start giving back more of what I’ve learned and, hopefully, there will be some lessons here (and future posts) for other technology executives and would-be tech entrepreneurs.
After 22+ years of running a small technology business while raising a family, plus the crushing business effects of 9/11, my business had taken its toll on me. I was tired, frustrated and had fallen into bad health. I needed a break. This was a business to which I had literally given everything I had. I love technology and helping people be better at what they do. And I’ve been doing this since IT became a way of life for the office worker. I remember being amazed, watching my Apple II loop text on the green screen from a simple if-then command written in Basic. But, I was burnt out and needed a break.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just drop out. I had obligations and I still wanted to be part of the tech community that seemed to change week-to-week. So, I kept going with no gas in the tank. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy moving from the one who made all the decisions, to becoming the employee taking the orders I once gave out. I wasn’t sure anyone would even hire me. Fortunately, I went on to take a series of jobs that led me to the very exciting point where I find myself today.
Lesson #1 – Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. You probably have more abilities than which you give yourself credit. Take part of what you’ve learned, think about what you are good at, and do whatever that is. It will feel different and scary, because you’ve never done it before. Push those thoughts aside. For me, my first post-CEO job was becoming the Atlanta GM of an IT training franchise and getting their sales department back on track. This experience also got me motivated to start writing my sales training system; How to be a Professional Salesperson. I got fired from this job after one year. I was told I made too much money and they thought they could do it for less, now that things were headed in the right direction. I think that was part of the reason. I also believe I wasn’t good enough yet at taking orders when I thought the direction was a bad decision. Translation: I was kind of a pain-in-the-ass employee.
From there, I went to work at a startup in the Atlanta Technology Development Center (ATDC.org) to build a salesforce where previously, the tech owner/developer/marketer was trying to do it all. Although a talented systems architect, sales was not this CEO’s forte. Four-and-a-half years later we had an organic (no investors), profitable, multi-million-dollar business. It was at this point the CEO decided to bring in venture capital money. Six weeks after the funding closed I was fired again.
Lesson #2 – You’re not invincible. I don’t care how good you think you are, you can always be replaced. Despite our success, VC companies like to bring in their own people, or people they know. Regardless of our success, they thought they had better shot at making it big with a new president and sales leader. Bottom line: The only constant is change. Keep your options open, stay in touch with people in your industry, and when you see the VC’s coming, get your resume updated.
After an in-between job, where I learned a ton about data center transformation and infrastructure, I was fortunate enough to start working with another tech company in the IT training business. I liked the owner and was obviously familiar with the market. I was tasked to build an end user (versus selling through training resellers) business from scratch.
Lesson #3 – You know more than you think. Even after five years away from the IT training business, I soon realized how much I remembered and knew about IT Training. And, how much I really liked it! I’ve always enjoyed being around really smart people who get energized by sharing their knowledge. (That’s a trait all good instructors have.) Each job you take builds upon the previous job and builds a stronger and deeper foundation for you; both the good and the bad. By the time you start heading down the homestretch of your business career, you’ll be amazed how much knowledge and experience you’ve accumulated. I have been asked more than once in the last few years, “How did you know to do that?” Don’t sell yourself short.
Lesson #4 – Sometimes it’s better to be nice than right. You’re going run into your share of jerks, know-it-alls, and otherwise nasty people, throughout your career. I understand your temptation to tell them where to go. I really understand that. If you need to, write that kiss-off email. Then delete it. You never know who you will run into again on your way up and down the ladder. You may need their help someday. Plus, it’s the right thing to do. Stay positive. When you look back, you’ll be proud of yourself.
Which brings me to today. After almost eight years of other tech jobs, I have decided to re-launch MindIQ: the IT training company that helped tens of thousands of IT people improve their skills, fixed many flailing IT projects and sent my four kids through college. It’s funny, I never sold the MindIQ URL and I’ve stayed in touch with many of my instructors, a lot of whom still deliver great results sharing their expertise. Maybe deep in my soul, I knew what I was supposed to do: finish what I started. I really believe I haven’t come this far to only come this far.
My final lesson in this post – Never be afraid to promote yourself by helping others. If you don’t let people know how you can help them, and that you have good intentions by doing so, nobody else will. Starting a new business from scratch (or even relaunching an old one) is a daunting task, and I will take all the help I can get. So, I am asking for your help. Let my new/old company, MindIQ.com, provide a proposal for a training project, and I will help you. You will absolutely get a great price. But as importantly, you will get a company that wants to help you and your team complete projects more quickly and with less errors. You get this guarantee from someone who, after experiencing first-hand what it takes to succeed in IT, can offer it. Just fill out the request below: