From unemployed and depressed to partner and CIO in 18 months — how?

Everyone has a story. Every man and woman has a tale of their own unique journey to tell. All are valuable, important, and worth sharing.

I suppose that my recent adventure is little different to most. So much has transpired in such a small parcel of time that it actually seems like it’s taken place over a much longer period. Truth is stranger that fiction, so I know that my recent journey seems almost too fanciful to be real.

Yet, it is very real. All of it. And it started with the worst year of my life.

There were a number of factors that contributed to the severe breakdown that I suffered in late 2014. The most noteworthy included untreated Major Depressive Disorder, my wife’s battle with cancer, our son’s diagnosis of autism, and severe financial reversal. All of these reached a deadly crescendo at the same time, resulting in a mental and emotional collapse, from which it has taken me years to recover.

As a result, under medical advice, I left the only vocation I had known for 25 years, resigned from my position as a Baptist Pastor, and entered the great unknown. To say this was terrifying would be a gross understatement.

After a whirlwind book tour of the United States, where I shared my story of hope for the depressed, I came home to Sydney and began to look for a “normal” job. I thought it would be fairly easy to find work, but I was dead wrong. Months went by with no success, and I became more concerned as our savings disappeared. Eventually, in May of 2017, time ran out. The money was gone, and I had no prospects of work at all. I needed a miracle.

Fast forward about 18 months. I am now the co-founder, partner, and CIO of an amazing business intelligence company, building BI solutions on the ingenious Salesforce Einstein Analytics platform. I have a fantastic role, working with an energetic and innovative team, in an extraordinary industry. I also get to partner with my long-term friend and a brilliant businessman, Neil Moodley. My income has more than doubled since my Salesforce journey began, I’ve made great friends all over the world, and I’m challenged and stretched every single day. Wow!

God has been very good to me.

The question people often ask me is, “How?”

How do you go from unemployed and depressed to CIO and partner in 18 months?

Well, it’s all been a bit of a blur, but I do have a few thoughts around this. The most relevant observation I have made is encapsulated in a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

You cannot experience the incredible until you attempt the impossible. Ever since the day that I agreed to implement Financial Services Cloud when I had never even seen Salesforce, I have been continually pushing the envelope from a personal skills and experience perspective. I find myself repeatedly diving into a new system, solving a new problem, or making a new application. It just never ends! It could, though, if I refused to move forward and launch out into the deep. All I have to do is say “no”, right? If I did, the craziness would stop – but so would the awesomeness! So, I just keep saying, “yes”, and here I am.

No one ever grew in their comfort zone. Forgive me for being blunt, but why would you expect to grow and progress when you won’t take a leap of faith and try something new, something difficult? After all, it has been said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Keep doing what you have been doing and you will keep getting what you have been getting.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been just moments from running away. How desperately I wanted to throw in the towel and tell our CEO to hire an experienced consultant, and let me get some boring job where I had a vague idea what I was doing! I was unqualified, inexperienced, untrained and overwhelmed. What right did I have to build a custom Salesforce org, Pardot marketing automation and Einstein Analytics  for a growing wealth management business when I had no expertise in any of these systems or in wealth management? Yet, that is exactly what I did.

It takes courage, persistence, belief, support, and a little bit of insanity to do what I have done since June of 2016. It isn’t for everybody! As terrifying and stressful as it has been at times, I wouldn’t exchange it for the world. What a fantastic journey!

It all started with saying yes to a great opportunity that seemed impossible at the time.

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” — Richard Branson

By the way, I am incredibly thankful for those who have supported me and helped me along the way. No man is an island! This long list of supporters includes:

  • My amazing, patient and saintly wife!
  • My supportive and encouraging parents.
  • My Lord and my God. He is my Rock.
  • Reg and Neil Moodley at InFusion360 who were crazy enough top take a chance on me!
  • The Salesforce family, or #Ohana, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive.
  • My wonderful church family.

And, remember:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

5 Comments

  1. Wow..
    So it also the other way.. saying yes and then working hard to justify .
    I always thought,it’s the other way around that works.. working hard,learning and then looking out options for implementations.
    Wonderful read.. #thoughtFlip 🙂

    Like

  2. Congratulations! I got my ADM 201 early last year and I got over 10 interviews within the first 2 months of getting the certificate but at the end of the day, everyone was looking for more experience (or used that as an excuse).

    I gave up on Salesforce and got into a coding Bootcamp for the last couple months which just made me realize how intuitive the Salesforce platform really is and how it can improve businesses when utilized to its fullest potential. I have decided to give Salesforce another shot but this time I am going ALL IN (I will be living on Trailhead for the foreseeable future). Any guidance or tips on how to get my foot in the door would be greatly appreciated! Cheers!

    Like

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