It was sometime in 2002, sitting in the office of a co-worker that I credit as the simple most important time of my entire career.
I sat there talking with Richard Wilson, a Director of Finance at Home Depot. We were in the same Leadership Development program and working towards our Six-Sigma Black Belt. I was burnt out on corporate America, at a ripe age of 26. He was a bit older, had his MBA from Northwestern and was very calm and collected, so when he uttered the following words, I listened.
“You will never not be successful, you will always find a way, you’re too smart to ever fail.”
We were there, talking about my desire and absolute fear of going out on my own. I had always wanted to own my own business from as early as I could remember. I loved soccer as a kid and I wanted to own a soccer store. This love followed me through college where I ended up with a Finance and Entrepreneurship degree. One day, I thought, one day I will own my own business.
Fast forward to 2005 and I ended up leaving my corporate job as my brother and I had bought a tiny retail company that sold kayaks.
I had been in a kayak less than a handful of times, it seemed. It wasn’t soccer but it would suffice.
I credit a lot of my fortitude to thinking back to sitting in Richard’s office and his words to me that day. We went on to take that tiny kayak business and expanded from one 1,200 square foot store to five stores located throughout Texas, but most importantly, launching a highly successful internet site, and eventually selling the business to a Private Equity firm. I never once felt we would fail, even if the success we ended up having was much greater than we expected when we set out at the start of the adventure.
For everyone out there, find yourself a Richard to remind you of everything you can accomplish. Since this week is Thanksgiving, I wanted to give thanks to Richard. I lost touch with him after I left Home Depot but I will never forget his words, words he probably has no recollection of saying to a pompous entitled kid feeling worn out at 25.
Happy Thanksgiving and give someone thanks today.