Today is the day.
While I’m on-call for another week, and will return to the office next Friday for a cake&coffee with the team, I’m leaving the company that I’ve been with for 15 years (give or take a month).
That’s 15 years through 7 different jobs:
- Research Assistant
- Staff Writer
- Marketing Project Manager
- Technology Solutions Manager
- Director of Home & Family markets
- Product Manager
- Director of Product Development
And 15 years through 3 different ownership stages:
- Premier (small, closely held company)
- FranklinCovey (medium-sized public company)
- SchoolSpecialty (largish public company)
And 15 years through 8 different bosses:
- Harold Ludwig
- Theodore Kingma
- Patricia Loeppky (now Newbold)
- Jim Gibson
- Kevin Moore
- Larry Renooy
- Joel Zucker
- Bob Lynch
What a wild ride it’s been, from a company that did about $40 million in annual business to a company that does over $130 million yearly. From a small family-run operation to a cog in a billion-dollar public corporation. From a small, cramped office in a leaky Abbotsford building to the former President’s (Henk Berends) corner office in Langley, and then to Bellingham, WA.
The opportunities I’ve had have been incredible. Just one of them is the travel, which has enabled me to go to San Francisco multiple times, Silicon Valley, Salt Lake City multiple times, Seatle, Portland, Wisconsin, Asheville North Carolina, San Diego multiple times, New Orleans, Virginia Beach, Texas multiple times, Florida multiple times, Quebec, Phoenix, Whistler, Winnipeg multiple (multiple multiple) times, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Moose Jaw (!?!), and many more places. Business travel is not always all it’s cracked up to be, but I always made a point of seeing or doing something at each place that I could not have seen or done at home … and so it has enriched my life.
Other opportunities have been career development. I started with Premier almost right out of Simon Fraser University. I had some previous experience managing a retail sports store … but Research Assistant was my first real career job. From that beginning people and experiences at Premier taught me product development, marketing, and basic business realities. My interest in technology grew significantly while at Premier, and the company had an opportunity for me to start and lead a web development department. From that, I moved on to other interesting and challenging jobs, including the one I’m currently leaving from: Director of Product Development. What a blessing! I feel truly fortunate and blessed to have had the career opportunities that I’ve already had.
But probably the best opportunity at Premier has been the people. Meeting and working with the amazing people at Premier … the David Leoppky’s, the Henk Berends, the Joel Zuckers … and so many more. I can’t – really can’t – name them all, but ones that really stand out are Pat Graham, Brandon Bird, Foeke van de Poel, Kelly DeVries, Bruce Morris, Sibrand Stulp, Andrew Westrink, Raymond Kenny, Teresa Alexander, Brad Kuik, Kevin Moore, Jane Hix, John Flokstra, Jonathan Catherman, Harold Ludwig, Wim Kanis, Natalie Critchley, Ronnie Zindorf, Larry Huinker, John Wesselius, Steve Misenhimer, Rastin Mehr, Arie Veenendaal, Ray Kuik, Dave Shoots, Bob Goodman, Diego Rodriguez, Sheldon Atkinson, Dominique Fugere, Francois Lupien, David Boone, Larry Renooy, Tom Osborn, Mike Skovgaard, Bernie Van Spronsen, Lisa Peumsang, Brian Koning, Steven Leyenhorst, Anita Lofgren, Phil Minderhoud, Tyler VanVliet, Bram Vegter, and Cheryl Vandeburgt. There’s more … I know there’s more, and I apologize if your name isn’t there. But those are the ones that came to mind. We had a great run together, and I wish you all the very best of everything.
Some of my favorite memories of these 15 years are:
- Running the annual convention in ’98 or ’99 in Victoria, BC – the first convention that we made a huge splash with a major show-biz type presentation. That was a blast!
- Bringing out the Discover Zone … an online learning, edutainment, productivity, and groupware environment in 2002-2003. What an application it was, and what excitement it generated!
- The convention we held in Quebec, about 3 hours North of Quebec City along the banks of the St. Lawrence. 35 or so of us stayed in the hotel lobby/bar until 1 or 2 AM, singing around the piano and generally enjoying each others’ company.
- Visiting our partners The FaQtory in Winnipeg in the winter and playing outdoor ice hockey at Ray Kuik’s house in -20 degrees Celcius … in shirtsleeves because we were so hot from the exercise.
- Building out a new department when I became Technology Solutions Manager. Finding space, painting, furnishing, hiring, and managing … tons of fun!
- A lunch with Henk Berends when he pointed out a serious error in judgement that I was making in a very gentle, tactful way, and saved me from a major, major disaster.
- Playing hockey with the Canadian sales team at their regional meeting this year.
- Giving a presentation on Royal Dutch Shell-like scenario planning at one of our company’s top meetings in ’97 when I was still young and green, and hearing via the grapevine that Chuck Farnesworth said “that kid made more sense than all the rest of them put together!”
- Getting to write for audiences of tens of millions when I was a staff writer. Our product goes out to over 20 million students internationally, and their parents and teachers view it as well.
- Pulling an all-nighter with David Boone to get the Premier website ready on-time in ’98.
- Boogy-boarding in 10-foot San Diego waves in ’96, dislocating my shoulder in the surf, and swimming 100 feet back to shore one-handed.
- Working for a month on a Discover Agenda presentation to executive in 2007, presenting it, and getting an unbelievable reception.
- Getting the 3-day training sessions on 7 Habits as well as the Organizational Effectiveness Model when we joined FranklinCovey.
- Going to San Antonio for a conference and staying at the Emily Morgan hotel in a suite looking directly down into the Alamo.
- Getting a massive one-day raise in 2001.
- Jim Gibson’s last day, when he came to me at our north campus. We found an available office; he told me he was leaving; and we prayed together before he walked out the door.
- Imitating Henk Berends’ speech style in a send-off at his retirement banquet, and managing to do it well.
- Winning the company-wide crud tournament with Loren VanCorbach and Sheldon Atkinson at the Portland conference in 2007 while playing the last few games on a severely sprained ankle.
- Taking off from the Phoenix conference with a colleague (Mike Suto) in a van, not knowing where we were going, and finding the most amazing still quiet desert spaces where we stood still and silent for minutes just to hear nothing, and then continuing on to find a deep, cold desert lake.
- Climbing the foothills of the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City during a visit to FranklinCovey.
- Setting up a ping-pong net on my Technology Solutions department “boardroom” table to knock away the tensions of long, busy days.
- And far more than I can list …
I have been very blessed, and very happy to have been a part of Premier from December of 1994 to November of 2008. And while I’m eagerly looking forward to new challenges, I’ll remember these times and people with fondness and some nostalgia.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu!