Friday, July 26, 2013

Let's Party Like its 1999!!! Be sure to invite the right people...

   "...Party over, oops, out of time." That was my 1999.  Omega, my company, was about to grow well over 100% in revenue, coming in around $1.2M for the year. We'd only started in October of 1996 with a credit card and an idea. It was a bit like running fast downhill, sort of a controlled fall. Or, at least you try to maintain that illusion of control so you don't crash and burn.

   As the year had begun I found out my family (spouse and I) was also about to grow by over 100%! Triplets were on the way. Certainly exciting news. Something that required some thinking considering the demands of the business, trying to occasionally exercise, and have some semblance of a personal life.

   So I did what any business school, professionally-trained accounting and finance graduate would do when faced with a multidimensional complex problem. I pretended it wasn't actually happening.

   On August 3, any hope of maintaining my "bubble" was burst. Three very small and noisy creatures emerged from my wife. They were tougher than any client. Terrible communication skills. Either quiet, or screaming. Unable to form consensus, one would want food at midnight, another at 2am, then - (why not) 4:15am as well. Home became a nightmarish parody of a B&B with 24-hour room service, and some extraordinarily demanding celebrity clientele.

   Meanwhile the company kept pumping along. Growing in leaps and bounds, though much more civilized than home. People that were selected for their ability, and their ability to work together. It was an essential element of keeping the place together. There were so many people squeezed into the office that one person had to accept that the coffee machine would be on their desk. The head of IT shared an office with me. When I say we were "in it together" it is quite literal.

   You may be asking, "Why didn't you get more space?". A great question. We were trying. Boy were we trying. But it was "dot-com" days. Everyone was partying like it was 1999. Except the dot-com people often had VC money and a bank line. We had a credit card, a factoring company, and a balance sheet that would have embarrassed the Zimbabwe. Thus, the reception from potential landlords was less than welcoming.

   We finally did get more space. We finally found a landlord that would take us in. The kids finally started sleeping through the night. We got rid of our factor and found a bank that would lend to us. We even had a break room. Sometimes I'd just splash out like that. Even had free coffee. That's just how I roll.

   We partied like 1999 all right. It was non-stop insanity. By the end of the year we were less than four years away from being sold. It wasn't on anyone's mind. There was no time for big "end game" thinking, we were in triage mode. Not to mention we'd begun development of some cutting edge technology for the investigative world which we'd launch around the kids first birthday. (see link at bottom of page)

   Looking back, that was a defining time for me, and most of the people at Omega Insurance Services. Many of whom I still maintain contact with. We had a fantastic team, and we did amazing things. It was inspiration, adrenaline, camaraderie, and some organization tossed in where needed to fill the gaps.

   Many of those people have gone on to pretty awesome things. There were quite a few entrepreneurs in the pack, with several people starting firms within the insurance industry, and others going off into unrelated fields. It was, as I mentioned, an extraordinary group of people. I'd love to tell you I did it. That it was my incredible genius that made it all possible. But that, my friends, would be a lie.

   Like all successful parties, it takes a great group of people, with the right chemistry to make for a memorable evening. We did party like it was 1999, for about seven years.

   Luckily I sent the invitations to the right people.

   The kids are soon 14. That project is ongoing.

    Alphabet Success, your personal step-ladder to success.  To buy, click here. 

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