I'm not sure how you start a blog, but as a lifelong writer it seems pretty natural to tell you (who are you?) where I'm at on my journey. I'm really not sure who that is or should be of interest to but people have increasingly told me to write both on the personal side and on the business side. My 10th grade teacher, Miss Davidson, started prompting me and everyone who reads my Christmas letter has reiterated that, and other former P&G colleagues. Here goes-
Many of us wonder, especially in a country as wealthy and privileged as the US, when enough is enough. While I know the latest economic crisis, has many thinking this no longer applies, relative to most of the world our standard of living in wealth and freedom is unparalled. I'm on a journey of figuring that out, but determined to live with more passion and purpose. I was born overseas, grew up in Canada of very modest means and raised by parents who survived the Great Depression. I have biases. I think the answer to this question frames much of how we live and make choices.
The fact is I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago at Procter & Gamble that I had enough of that life. I was 52, had been there 30 years and wanted to live with more passion in living out my dreams, faith, person-hood. This was prompted both by experiences at work where programs like Gallup's Strength Finders and other materials increasingly crystallized the fact that most of us only engage a small amount of our total mind, body, soul in the workplace. For me that was draining me, consuming all my energy and not tapping nearly all of me. I was getting angry. Some challenging teaching by Jeff Greer at Grace Chapel in Mason, Ohio pulled me further in the direction of better defining my life-song as a claimed Christ-follower. You have to understand that when I embrace something, I'm very committed, determined and loyal. It's hard to change direction. And, once you hit a certain age you realize even more acutely that the clock is ticking. In my circle of friends, people around me were experiencing major life-changing crisis including death. You can't just keep saying, "One day I'd like to...". You have to embrace the full risks of life.
I asked for an early retirement package and eventually got one. I realize that isn't a real possibility for many of you. I am most grateful to P&G. Still there have to be ways to live more fully.
I didn't want my kids (then 21,18, 15) thinking that you have to just grit your teeth and heart and always tough out what isn't enriching or purposeful. So it was a tough call but the right one.
I had been calculating "the number" I needed to hang it up for 10 years. There's a clue right there. Sounds like I knew 10 years prior that I needed to have an exit strategy. And in some ways I was waiting it out. In any case, I had on my own married most of the conventional rules of financial planning to my expectations and had that vetted by a financial adviser. I had my own modest definition of "enough". And of course that has been redefined since October '08.
So,I left P&G Jan 2/08 and started my journey of self-discovery reapplying to my own firm, NTEL4u my skills as a competitive/market analysis and stategist both in the pro-bono side (SCOREworks.com, TheShepherdsCrook.org, other) and doing a variety of consulting projects built mostly on my background in CPG and pharmaceuticals. (8 projects, 5 clients, 5 figures in my first year)
What I have learned more about so far is that:
1) I enjoy helping others be successful but I am still struggling to combine that with "enough" - financially, emotionally. My work as a SCORE counselor and fundraiser for an NFP has been challenging and enjoyable and allowed me to take the lead on new things - writing business plans, learning more about funding businesses and fundraising systems, applying my research and analysis skills to many more and diverse situations. I like to connect the dots and people.
2) Business development has so much to do with psychographics. Only making that personal connection and being patient allows you to get a real be fully heard in terms of the unique value you can bring to the table and in this market a lot of patience is needed. Meeting other like-minded hearts and minds is critical. Speed-dating is generally pointless. Be real. It's efficient and simply right.
3) Compartmentalizing your life is draining. God's at work on purpose. He made each one of us for a specific purpose. Our job is to find that purpose and do it. Then hang on for the ride of your life. As Georgia Byrd says in Last Holiday (Queen Latifah), "I have live my life in a box and I don't want to be buried in one". No more of that. He will reveal what is enough and always provide it. It's been amazing how financial resources have come to my wife and kids over the past year as I have struggled to stay on my business and life plan.
4) Community is so important. Right now that is significantly about networking and meeting new people. It's an incredible way to learn - all these other minds/lives absorbing, experimenting, networking. Right now I haven't found that community in a local church and am coming to the conclusion that the real church is a small group of authentic believers you connect with regularly and do life together with. Most times, these are one on one or two on one interactions where there is time to be real, to listen and learn - to believe.
5) Competitive intelligence is forever changed. While you have to make the competition as important as consumers and customers, it's all about DIY now. You have to better enable others to do their own, to learn the disciplines and processes, to think differently. You have to knit together and operationalize readily available sources and find an internal operator at your client. You still win by knowing competition better and before you. It's still about strategic gap filling because no one knows what they don't know. Information still doesn't flow well in organizations given their structures and personalities. Blue Ocean Strategy is right that you need to get beyond the competition as is Michael Lanning's DVP thinking, but you still have to have a clear view of competition. They make you better. You are simply tapping into another group of very smart people who happen to be competitors. You still win by knowing them better and before they know you (counterintel is fun). As a consultant you have to offer outstanding value. Any consultancies I admire offer extremely high value at a modest price. Big consulting is increasingly "toast".
Ok. That's if for today. Am reading David Merrman Scott's book on the "New Rules of Marketing and PR" - very good. Again it dimensionalizes how much the world is moving toward DIY given new technology and thinking. Also reading Kaufman Foundations "Thoughtbook-2009". I don't think they get it quite right on education. This is a space of ultimate expression of DIY going forward and credentialing will take a hit.
So enough is becoming enough when you are more full of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control and when your thoughts are full of what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. Money will always consume time and attention and talent, but is somewhere down the line. I keep trying to keep that in perspective...often not succeeding.
On the journey,
Stan R. Dyck
(meet me.... well part of me....on Linkedin)