A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming
I can still remember walking out of the church with my new bride on my arm to this song from Disney’s Aladdin movie back in the mid-90s. That day was indeed the start to a whole new world; a world that continues to change to this day.
The latest change to that world came on December 2, 2016 when I walked out of a Harte Hanks office as an employee for the last time. While leaving a company seems like a regular occurrence these days, for me it was a major decision for two reasons: 1) I had been at the company for 15 years, and 2) I was leaving to go out on my own.
I think back to the middle of 2001 when I was desperate to get out of the constant travel that accompanied my job as a Big 4 consultant. Travel that kept me away from my young and growing family. Thanks to a former co-worker of my wife, I ended up with the inside track for a director level position at a company I had only vaguely heard of and in an industry that I knew absolutely nothing about. But it was in Austin; had low travel requirements, and was at a comparable pay level. I took the job thinking I would stick it out for a year while I found my dream job and more importantly enjoyed time with my family.
Fast forward 15 years and I was still at that company. During that 15 years, I was exposed to all facets of what turns out to be a pretty fascinating world of data-driven marketing and customer support and was able to advanced my career to the point of being a corporate officer serving as the company’s CIO. What started out as a somewhat desperate job move to get out of the misery of constant travel, actually turned into what many would consider a fantastic career.
However, the last four years of that “fantastic” career found me in the midst of massive change and upheaval in an 80 year old company – a company that was slow in some areas to latch onto the new digitally oriented marketing channels. I’ll save the gory details of the change and upheaval for later posts, but in essence I was a part of multi-year turnaround effort that involved 3 different CEOs – 4 if you count an interim CEO. While that type of environment is full of “professional life” lessons; it is also a pressure packed environment that can weigh on you mentally and physically.
They say that facing adversity and overcoming challenges “builds character”, but as a former colleague used to say after a streak of unfortunate events “I think we have enough character now.” In mid-2016, I reached the conclusion that I had built up enough character from that extended turnaround effort and knew it was time to start the next chapter of my career.
While I was not a fan of the constant travel that went along with my first stint as a consultant, I did enjoy the work. The idea of using my knowledge and experience to help others solve problems without getting sucked into the day-to-day administrative cycles that come with corporate leadership positions has always held an allure for me. Using that as a fundamental anchor, I set my sights on breaking free from the corporate leadership world and jumping back into consulting – but not back into the world of major consulting firms. This time I decided to make a run at being the independent consultant – a modern day version of the Lone Ranger.
Once again thanks to contacts I have made along the way, an opportunity to turn that idea into a reality presented itself. So, I took that chance and gave up the “comforts” of corporate officer life. In late November Nice Socks Consulting was born and on December 2, I took another walk “down the aisle” with that same Disney movie song playing in my head as I departed Harte Hanks for the final time.
A whole new world
(Every turn a surprise)
With new horizons to pursue
(Every moment, red-letter)