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If you asked me in January 2010 when David West, owner of eKzact Solutions in Calgary, Canada and I came together to form Ulistic in the basement of some dumpy house in Calgary’s SE, that in 10+ years I would still be doing this, I would have said: “you’re crazy.” The truth is, I have never done anything in my life longer than eight or so years. My military career was around eight years. My time with IT Matters was around eight years. Now, it is almost June 2020, and it is 10+ years.
So ten years later…what have I learned? That is a fascinating question. One thing I know for sure, I have lots of great friends, lots of great clients, lots of enemies and lots of people who call me a smuck, FPOS or even worse things. And you know what? I’m OK with everything. Probably one of my greatest achievements over the past few months, possibly even less time than that, more like last few weeks, as I become aware of the damage I’ve done to some relationships, the joy I’ve brought to other relationships and those that we were just two ships passing in the night.
I’m very proud of this accomplishment.
I know I’m still a work in progress. Just ask my leadership coach, who I meet with twice a week, lots of work again to do. Am I perfect, no way! Will I be perfect? Nothing is ever 100% accurate. But, I’m proud of the direction I’m going in my life and very curious to see the outcomes of all this hard personal development I’ve done since COVID forced many of us to work from home. Maybe, COVID was the shakeup I needed.
I know I have wronged and upset many people. I know I could have been a more influential leader and mentor, I know I could have made better decisions…but, that is life in business. Am I upset at those now intentionally trying to slander our name out there, no way. Like me, one day, they may realize the anger, frustrations, and other items they carry around and weigh them down each day. Like them, I carried around so much outrage over the years that it was like an extra 50 pounds that I had to carry around. Forgiveness and learning have freed me from this burden, and I can honestly say as of May 31, 2020, I’m a happy individual once again.
Tip 1: Forgive those who have wronged you and seek forgiveness from those you have wronged
When David and I started Ulistic, I was so passionate about working with small businesses and helping them with their marketing. MSPs were never on our radar, actually, since leaving IT Matters in 2008 and Bulletproof Infotech in 2009, I had no desire to ever work in the MSP space ever again…I wanted to be a digital marketing person, not an MSP marketing person.
Thanks to a guy named Mike Ives, who worked a Microsoft back in 2010, I came back to working with MSPs after being a guest on one of his webinars. BJ Farmer of Houston IT services company, CITOC, reached out and asked me to help him with his marketing, and the rest is history. Adam Rippon, from Sydney Technology Solutions, Carl Fransen from CTECH Consulting Group, and Blake Schwank from Colorado Computer Support soon followed (they all still work with me ten years later), and I was off to the races.
Passion is the fuel in your gas tank, once it runs out, you’re done. I believe that passion can be refueled as well. In 2019, a series of events starting with my mother’s death on March 29th, dealing with a cyberattack on the same day, a bunch of general “office stuff” that drained me, in October/November 2019, I crashed internally. I hit the brick wall. My passion was gone. I needed time away.
What did I do?
Well, the details are for a private conversation…but I went home for a month and hid, reflecting, not the best decision but I needed to get away from everything. I was emotionally checked out and did what I usually do, hid…why? Because that has been my MO for the majority of my life. When issues arise, Stuart hides away. I made some poor judgment calls and many things, reflecting on now, I could have handled the issues differently.
Why Am I Sharing This?
Every single business owner goes through something like this. If you are saying to yourself, not me..then you’re full of crap. We all wrestle with different variations of this. We just deal with it differently. Some people turn to drugs, others to alcohol, me…I turn back to work and trying to do everything myself…another recipe for disaster.
Tip 2: Keep An Eye On Your Passion Fuel Tank
Arlin Sorensen shared with me many years ago. People will always disappoint you. This didn’t sink in until recently as well. My leadership coach says I’m a brilliant thinker, and I process things so much faster than the average person. She may be right there…maybe, trying not to get a big ego. It is this character trait and my ability to grasp certain things faster than the average person that leads to depressing thought.
People learn and process items at their cadence. Some are very slow, while others are quick. What I needed to learn was this doesn’t impact their passion and caring, it is just how they process information.
What we are working on is now balancing my thoughts of being disappointed with mentorship and guidance and that people will make mistakes and errors in judgment (God only knows I’ve made a few) and this is the perfect opportunity to teach and guide them, not take things away and downplay their contribution.
It is also hard for a business owner to trust others with their baby. Remember, Ulistic is a creation of David West, and then I got involved, took full ownership, and built it what it is today. This my 10-year-old baby, but I need to let teachers, their friends, schoolmates, and other influences get involved…just like my own two boys. I need to treat this exactly like I did with them.
That is trusting others to excel and help take care of the clients.
Tip 3: Trust Others and Guide Their Development
If this blog post helps just one person, mends one fence, opens on a new door, connects with one person…then I have done my job. I believe that being transparent and sharing this type of information is a strength, not a weakness. Getting these thoughts out into the wild…helps me in my journey and, hopefully, helps one of you.
Want to chat…my phone number (cell) is 716.263.6961.
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Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.