This is a series about getting your life back on track and achieving your goals.
My phone rang.
“Hey, Charlie, it’s Bob,” said my friend and former sales manager Bob Lasher.
“I think my time is coming to an end here at AudioFax. I would like to get together with you,” he said. “You seem to have built a pretty good network in Atlanta. Maybe you can help me find my next sales job.”
I said, “Let’s have lunch today. I need to get out of the office.”
He thought I was still in the ERP implementation business. What he didn’t know was that my partner had just walked out the door an hour ago. He thought he needed help.
I needed a friend’s shoulder to cry on.
We sat down and Bob said, “This AudioFax thing isn’t working. We change sales strategies every week. I can’t build momentum there. And without momentum, I can’t make money. I need to make money.”
“What are you looking for?” I asked.
“First and foremost, I’m looking for a company that appreciates its people. But it also needs to be a company with capable leadership. A company which is settled on its market and product. Finally, I need a market that is buying. Like I said, I need to make money,” he answered.
I said, “You sales guys are always looking for the next fast train out of the station. You’ve been doing this for the last few years. You left the last couple of jobs mostly complaining about their culture and not their market. Look at your first criteria. You want to join a company that appreciates its people.”
“You are right. The cultures of the last few companies I’ve been a part of were toxic, at least to me. It wasn’t fun, and it didn’t matter if I was making money,” he said.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“I’m 37,” he said.
“We’ve known each other for close to 15 years. I’ve watched you grow from a top-achieving salesman to a great sales manager. Instead of trying to find the next fast train leaving the station, why not run your own company. You can create your own culture. Make the company yours. Imagine how cool that would be,” I said.
“What do I know about starting and running companies? It sounds risky. I have to admit the idea is compelling, but I’m just not qualified.”
“Yes, you are. You should do it,” I said enthusiastically.
“What kind of company would I start?”
“I just happen to have a company you can take and make your own,” I replied.
He asked, “What kind of company is it?”
“Services,” I answered.
“I don’t know how to run a services company. Heck, I never sold services, just software.”
“We’ll work together, and I’ll show you how to do it. You’ll be great,” I said.
Within a week, Bob and I changed occupations. He became an entrepreneur and owner in a startup. I became an investor.
With Bob running the services company, I believed there was a good chance it would work. In twelve months, he had it profitable. Within three years, Bob grew that company to over $3mm in revenue and then on to $7mm a few years after that.
After Bob took over the company, I started thinking, “Maybe there is a future in this early stage investing occupation.” Then another services guy approached me and asked if I would fund his company.
I later learned it was called angel investing.
I found out soon enough I was still me.
That was a problem.