Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Perseverance

Today's post is in honor of one of my cousins who is celebrating his 49th birthday today. When we were growing up, he was like a twin brother to me. One of our favorite activities was playing tennis and when we were in high school, we actually competed against each other. My cousin is the superior athlete and I look up to him even though I am older (by two months and five days).

The scar on my knee came from trying to beat him in a downhill race when were kids. He fixed me up pretty good but he still tells me he wished he could have done something for the head injury. Today, he is a world-class doctor and parent. My cousin is one of the best examples of one who perseveres and he has always been an inspiration to me. My birthday present to him is to just say thanks for always being there and for being such an awesome cousin.

Once I have secured permission from others, those of you following this blog will have access to extraordinary talent that comes from other friends and family members. Some of the stories border on the unbelievable but the success comes from persevering in the face of adversity.

I started playing tennis just prior to entering high school. Many of my friends moved on to a private high school and I found new friends in my neighborhood public school. Although most people around me thought I had my head together (except maybe my cousin, the future doc), I was carrying around a lot of anger inside of me. When I would be on the tennis courts, I could block out all the negative stuff that was in my head. My cousin and I would ride our bikes to the courts and play for hours and hours.

I spent my first two years of college at a community college and competed on the tennis team. It seemed like every number one player from all of the surrounding high schools was trying out for this team. I was not as talented as these other players but didn't want to be anywhere else except on a tennis court.

It was at the start of my second year on the team that my coach told me he did not think I could make the cut. We had some new talent vying for a spot and it did not look good for me or my doubles partner. We asked the coach not to cut us. Instead we would work longer and harder on the courts to prove that we belonged on the team. We fought hard and we won. At the end of the year, I earned a special award, called the "spark plug" award for my contributions to the team. This was also my first lesson in perseverance.

When we decided to compete with Goliath, we knew that this would be a battle like nothing we had seen before. We set up about a thousand distribution points in less than thirty days. We invented software from scratch. There were days when we watched the sun come up while still working. Then, the unthinkable happened...when we distributed our second batch of weekly magazines, we discovered that very few customers had picked up magazines from our launch the week prior. We knew we would be dead if the results weren't there right away. In fact, we lost most of our customers during our first two months in business because Zoom was not making the phone ring. They even had proof, compliments of free telephone tracking numbers provided at no charge by Goliath.

We came up with a plan to "re-distribute" these magazines on driveways. The only problem was that we were already working overtime to sell ads, type ads, and distribute magazines. We got our spouses and children involved in the re-distribution process. The kids would rubber band the magazines and throw them on driveways, usually until about midnight.

Our customers started to get phone calls (thank you, Goliath, for giving away the tracking numbers showing how Zoom was working) and we survived. Goliath had predicted that we would not be around more than 90 days. Almost five years later, we are getting ready to launch in our third city and Goliath has retreated from the publishing arena. They told their customers that print was dead. Our tire customer that is getting 1,700 Zoom calls per month may have trouble believing that statement!

It is time for me to go to work. Goliath laid off about 4,000 talented people when they exited the print business. My partners and I will do our best to hire some of them. Maybe we will be in your city soon. You can follow us by checking out our website, ZoomAutos.com. For now, don't ever give up, no matter how challenging your situation is.

Happy Birthday, cousin!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Perhaps you might address the "anger" you mention in this piece. As your aunt I probably already know what it is. But it might be good to talk about it. Also...you have my permission to write about our family if the need be.
<3 Aunt Marcie