Archive for September, 2008
Please indulge me. I want to tell a story – of course, about myself.
While I was the managing director in London running the EMEA region for Noetix, my wife decided to rent a flat in Paris during one of the summers. She found an adorable place in “Le Marias”, a chic district in the heart of the city.
I visited her on weekends coming in from London on the Eurostar. Given the generous European levels of vacation time, I also planned an extended stay for almost three straight weeks. However, I don’t always “vacation” well, sometimes becoming very stressed when trying too hard to relax. So, soon after arriving, I went to a community center recommended by a French friend.
There, I walked in and in my broken French asked if I could volunteer for two weeks. I explained that I played sports and was good with teenagers. The nice woman made several calls on my behalf, explaining to whoever was on the other end of the line that she had a person who spoke horrible French interested in volunteering.
After a couple of unsuccessful calls, she delicately explained that they actually needed volunteers who could communicate better with the teenagers. Then, she said in perfect proper BBC English that she appreciated my initiative to come and ask. We spoke for awhile but she didn’t have any suggestions on where I should go next.
After a few more days of drinking coffee, finding wonderful local restaurants and bars, I was starting to get a little antsy. I found a community newspaper where a nursing home asked for visitors for its residents. I called right away and made an appointment with a certain gentleman.
The nursing home was in a rather rough part of town and I had trouble finding it. Nonetheless, I eventually found myself there being lead to this gentleman’s room. He was in his bed, with family pictures on the dresser.
I introduced myself, but he stared blankly at me. Then, he motioned to his ear and said he doesn’t hear well. So, I introduced myself more loudly. He waved at me to sit down. We asked each other basic questions. On occasions, he would ask me to speak up. Up to that time, I had never had the confidence to yell in French.
I learned that he had been in World War II. His daughter was out of the country and his wife had long since passed away. He showed me pictures, and asked politely about my family. I’m not sure how much he understood of what I was saying, but he would smile and nod repeatedly. As time passed, I knew he was tiring. I pulled out a book about Seattle that I had bought from a bookstore on Champs Elysees. I showed him Mount Rainer and the Space Needle, among other Seattle sites. I told him that I had brought it for him to keep.
He grabbed my hand pulling me closer, and said, “Merci”, but he would prefer that I visit him again than have a book about my hometown. I saw such honest sincerity in his eyes. We had connected despite language, generational, and cultural gaps.
When I opened the door to leave, a crowd looked up at me. Apparently, my loud butchering of French had attracted many at the nursing home. All the faces smiled at me. They parted their walkers out of the way and let me leave. Some patted me gently on my back.
Success in business or life should always feel like I did that day leaving the nursing home.
When we decided to be acquired by Ascentium, we knew that things would change mostly for the better and some for the worse (from our perspective).
Aided by Ascentium’s large client base and broad offering of services as an interactive agency, our group has found more diversity of interesting work. Our revenues have steadily grown, improving the fundamentals of our business. There definitely has been a good “Ascentium lift” by joining the larger company.
The improved foundation has allowed us to offer interesting career paths around the developing field of web analytics and optimization. So, we’ve brought onboard additional talented, smart people to the team. We’re so fortunate to have an industry thought-leader like Anil Batra, who also is an excellent mentor to the whole team. He’s helped develop an environment of collaboration.
We are now an integrated part of Ascentium, although we will maintain our brand (ZeroDash1) for some transitional time. For all purposes, however, we are Ascentium Analytics & Optimization. It’s very rewarding as the leader of ZeroDash1 to see both pre-acquisition groups benefit from the deal.
Unfortunately, changes benefit many but not all. That’s to be expected, but difficult to see happening. After all, we all had been through so much together. Consequently, a couple of initial key contributors have left and gone onto other opportunities. They are talented people and will be impactful contributors for their new companies. I wish them well. They deserve success. I will miss them.
Meanwhile, however, our current group has grown steadily, adding interesting new perspectives and personalities. We’re really starting to settle into a groove as a business and team. Yes, the office culture has changed with slightly younger employees and the influence of broader Ascentium. I look at this team and it motivates me every day to do my part the best that I can. They are tremendous and all work for the greater success of the team.
After 17 years in the service industry, I’ve seen organizations grow and change many times over and achieve great success. And during those times, key players have left my organizations and achieve incredible success in their own right. I’m proud of each of them, as well as what my teams have always accomplished.