You're Fired!

My family had just returned from our annual ski vacation in Whitefish, Montana. The Monday morning after we returned, my boss put a meeting invite on my calendar for that morning, and I knew immediately something was up. After a brief conversation, I heard the words that still ring in my head today: “You’re fired. Today is your last day.”

No notice, no warning, but at least they did wait until I returned from vacation, lol! So many feelings immediately rushed in, at first anger, then fear, but the main thought and concern were how I would pay my mortgage and provide for my family. So you might be wondering why I was fired. A big deal I had been working on for months didn’t come in. Because I had recommended a competing solution to my potential client, my company found out about it. The truth is my competitors’ solution was a better fit. It wasn’t as if I didn’t believe in the solution I was offering. I did, but I had developed a rapport with my potential Customer over 2 months of working together in the trenches, and there was mutual trust between us. 

My almost Customer Who I now call a Friend, had called me late one night.  He was on the fence about my solution versus my competitor’s. I could not allow him to make a wrong decision that would impact him and his family. The more we talked through it late into the night (over a video meeting and a Bourbon), the clearer the other solution was a better fit for his company. So I advised him late that night to sign with my competitor, and I was ultimately fired by my employer because of it.

In my 26 years in Technology I had never been fired. Heck, the last time I was fired was by Pepperidge Farms for eating Godiva chocolates on the job more than 30 years ago (for those of you who don’t know Godiva, they are tough to pass up, especially when your job is to stock freezers full of chocolates (24×7) over the holidays.

I didn’t love being a vendor sales rep for top cloud communications providers in the industry. I remember a day not long ago working for CDW Corporation, a $15B VAR where I could genuinely advocate for my clients. I was a subject matter expert in the cloud communications industry, 100% agnostic and not biased towards one vendor or solution. At CDW, our customers’ best interests were in mind, not our commission check. The two years at CDW were the most fulfilling of my career. After 15 years in one industry, I developed the tools, processes, and experience based on hundreds of engagements, helping our Customers quickly navigate the Cloud solutions to identify the best fit. We helped hundreds of IT Professionals migrate from legacy hardware to cloud-based solutions. We took the risk out of the equation for our customers; we were their most trusted advisors and had their best interests in mind.

I wanted to wake up and feel that way again to help Technology Leaders without bias or a plan and provide them with tremendous value. Like a fiduciary in the financial services industry, but for Technology. The stakes are just as high in technology decision-making as in financial services…..big decisions impact everyone’s careers and promotions. I didn’t go right home to give my family the bad news. I went for a walk on the DuPage River in Naperville to clear my head and plan my next move. I decided right then I would never let anyone or any company, no matter how big the paycheck, control my destiny or integrity. I would work with the clients I wanted to work with, IT professionals considering a Cloud offering where my 26 years of experience would add value. If I had to leave the comfort of a steady paycheck and exchange that for freedom, entrepreneurship, and a commitment to put my Customer’s interests first. That is good enough for me, and I would sleep better at night.

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