The following was an address to the entire Dyn sales team at their annual retreat.
“To see the future, you must first see the past.”
This all started for me with a belief: a belief that by being human, accessible, real and transparent in a profession long viewed the opposite, we could achieve big, big things. We could see immense sales, revenue and profitability growth. We could build a growth engine formula for success that others would aspire to mimic and one that we would forever maintain.
Long before I ended up working at Dyn and as far back as I can remember, I took the business world seriously. My wife Katie, who I met in a marketing management class at Bentley, will be forever amused by the fact that I “played work” as a kid. From lemonade stands to retail jobs to internships to my career progression to date, I’ve laid it all on the line.
My success has and will always be on me to determine. Control everything. My family instilled that in me from those days “playing work”, doing chores, competing in sports and working hard in school. Find your way and leave nothing to chance. My father would always say “It’s the principle of the thing” when I tried to challenge the values they worked so hard to instill.
When I came here, I was ambitious, energetic and driven, not unlike the people we recruit. I was adamant in my conviction that brand, style, culture and community sells above all else. It’s really all about the people. I’m a broken record on the topic of “Honesty, Passion and Persistence” but it is my driving force and the driving force behind this entire brand and sales force we’ve built.
Look in the mirror.
Taking you back, I inherited two sales reps when I walked into this company that are still here today. I will forever respect and be loyal to Brian Brady and Chris Salisbury who were admittedly treading water in an environment not familiar or comfortable with the two areas of passion and bravado I would aggressively carry the flag for: sales and marketing.
Alongside Josh Delisle (someone many people in my position would have been afraid to hire because of his experience, resume and approach), we’ve really built something here that is “pinch yourself” worthy. Brian, Chris, Josh and I were the original four just 18 months ago. Think about that: where were you 18 months ago? Now you are all part of something far bigger than any one person in the sales department, a group that now helps support over 110 families.
If that isn’t responsibility, I don’t know what is.
I made one thing very clear in my very first discussion with our CEO Jeremy. If you let me own and be accountable for both sales and marketing, I will kill it for you. It took a few short months for him to believe in me after trust was earned from sheer undeniable results. Now these teams make up over 50 people and operate in such amazing lock-step unison that I can’t even begin to convey my pride about it.
The importance of marketing and sales being of one vision, strategy and focused leadership was integral to my views on how to truly grow this or any business. No different for client services, they are the ultimate glue between all departments in our company: the truest ambassadors of this or any brand. They are the perfect blend of sales and marketing meets engineering, product and operations. The beauty lies in the truth that Jeremy and CTO Tom deeply share in these cultural guidelines and laid the groundwork years before I arrived. It just took someone to translate it into human, non-technical terms. Combined with the “work hard, play hard” mantras shared by fellow VPs Gray and Cory, we have held true to these principles.
Most often times, it’s not the things in your career that roll smoothly that teach you the best lessons and build your core beliefs. Rather, it’s the exact opposite. I knew that by taking control of the softer side of sales/marketing and by evolving my sales chops, the future would be great. I also knew that sales needed to be deeply about the people in the organization and the customers using the services across the board.
Without full buy-in from both, no sales organization will thrive, no brand will be genuine and ultimately no business will grow. It’s that simple.
The sales team and overall organization will be treading water like Brian and Chris were back when I arrived as a bright-eyed and naive kid… which I would argue I still am and hope you are too.
You see, I came from an environment where sales and marketing was more sales vs. marketing or sales without marketing. The left foot wasn’t there to balance the right or vice versa. Sales ran a bit rogue. As an outside sales rep, remote and running the West Coast region, I made my own rules: my own unique pitch and style and corresponding decks and materials. I lived and breathed my work. I got ahead, but I was relatively beating to the tune of my own drum. Our CEO would set our annual vision and I would follow it as I interpreted it. I always say that moving to California advanced my career at least five, if not 10 years. It began my love affair with sales. I have my old bosses Travis Warren and Will Redway to thank for the opportunity, faith in me and allowance to sprint and be autonomous — no different than the approach of present day Jeremy.
I promise to our sales staff that we will never stifle personal growth and always try to stay one step ahead of their dreams. It amazes me to think about how much I learned from my two mentors and how much rope they actually gave me. Careers are defined by mentors and I got a great start. I am hopeful you all someday stand up in front of a room like this and talk about your managers and I in a similarly glowing light. That is humbling. That is true success.
Candidly, on the surface, this was not a good job to take. It was a huge risk for me but a quote from my amazing, free-spirited sister-in-law Heather has always stuck with me: “fortune favors the bold”. It sat as an underlying theme in my mind and is something I always remind myself of when challenged with a big decision.
Another quote that I keep close in my heart and mind is from my college football teammate Gregg Albano that he’d put up as his AIM away message every single game: “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Go ahead and wish me luck each and everyday.
To see the future, you must first see the past.
The path to get here has not been easy. Spend time chatting with Brian, Chris and Josh sometime and let them go into storytelling mode. It’s that surreal. Actually, ask Chris Widner and our client services team what it was like before sales and marketing at Dyn. Discuss with Matt Toy what he has witnessed as a close personal ally and friend and why he jumped aboard. Ask Phil Akilade to explain why he is here and what drives him at this point in his career. It’s flattering. It’s all amazing stuff.
The path ahead will require the same naïveté, risk taking, hard work, hustle, ambition and of course, the same honesty, passion and persistence it took to build this foundation. It’s all very personal and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Neither should you.
2012. Better, Faster, Stronger. We’re tightening the screws. This all started for me with a belief, a belief now in all of you. Let’s go.