The Once in a Lifetime Experience

When the Magic Is Now

“All it takes is all you’ve got!” the inscription read at the end of the dedication.

I was digging through boxes in our closet looking for some long-lost motorcycle parts. I unearthed a plaque which I received from my salesforce when I left my first startup. Here is the inscription on the plaque:

Presented to Charlie Paparelli. In appreciation of your support, leadership, and inspiration. The MCS sales force wishes you success in the challenges ahead. We will always remember the victories we shared, as you led us to even higher goals.

It ended with, “All it takes is all you’ve got.”

It was dated October 1986. Wow! That was 32 years ago.

For the last few days, I’ve been repeating this quote to myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If it was on the plaque, it must have been something I said a whole bunch of times to our sales force. Why else would they have memorialized it on a plaque which they gave me when I was leaving the company.

It was a once in a lifetime experience

As I reminisced, I remembered the people. We were all around 30 years old, ambitious, eager to succeed, working hard, and having lots of fun together. Together, we were making our dent in the universe, or at least we believed we were making a difference.

We were winners. In fact, our motto, which appeared everywhere including marketing materials, pins, and ads, was, “We are success.” We believed it and we lived it. And it was important to each of us to be successful.

Succeeding was important because we were building our careers. This was our first professional opportunity. Each of our futures was dependent on whether we hit our goals and made this company a great success. Our work would become part of our reputation and CV. This experience would define us.

It would help us get to the next great job. Build the next great company. Make it to that next level of income. Become great leaders who would lead great men and women. We were leaders who would build on this success, and we were committed to creating the incredible life we envisioned for ourselves.

We were young and inexperienced, and we knew we needed to give it everything we had. Winners do that. We set big goals and chased after them without leaving anything on the field. We set ourselves apart from everyone else. No one could compete. We didn’t want to just win. We wanted to dominate.

SalesLoft is that place

I recently met with Kyle Porter, CEO and co-founder of SalesLoft. This is one of the fastest growing tech companies in America. Kyle is going to be the local keynote speaker at this year’s High Tech Prayer Breakfast. I’ve been coaching Kyle on his talk.

As I was about to leave our meeting, I told him the story about the plaque. Then I said, “When I walk through SalesLoft, I feel that same energy I felt in my first startup. The same sense of optimism and drive. People trusting each other to be the best at whatever is their responsibility. People committed to success.”

I went on, “Later in life when I ran into people who worked with me during that time, they would always talk about how special it was. Many spent years trying to find a company culture and environment just like it. They wanted to relive it.”

What I learned

These company experiences happen once in a lifetime. If you have one in your career, count yourself fortunate, even blessed. They have these three elements in common:

1. A new, rapidly expanding market
2. A startup which achieves market leadership and is blowing away its numbers
3. A group of people who are roughly the same age and at the same stage of life

Once you’ve experienced it, you will never recreate it. Just thank God you were in the right place at the right time when it all happened. It’s a gift.

When I shared this with Kyle, he said, “Funny you should tell me this. One of our managers recently said, ‘You know, we are living the good ole days.’”

I think Kyle gets it. Go Lofters!

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