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Surprise, Surprise, Oprah Was Right! (Probably)

Today, as I sit and write this post, it has been nearly three years since Dyn was acquired by Oracle and two months since I left Oracle to help build York IE. As I catalogue all that I have experienced and felt during that time period I am reminded of one of the inarguable truths of modern life:

Oprah is right. 

In life, the destination is the journey.

Now, I am not sure Oprah said that specifically but I am sure, like me, you can imagine her proclaiming it atop her famous white sofa. 

Here’s what I mean. 

At first, when I thought about the defining moments of that time period – the actual selling of Dyn to Oracle; my last day in the office I spent more than seven years – I was surprised by how anti-climatic those moments were. Despite the fact that they were the moments I had spent years envisioning, they meant little to me.

And when I say I spent years envisioning, I mean it. Building Dyn into a company that could be acquired for a lot of money was a goal (close to an obsession) for which I, and many others, worked very hard. I pulled out my laptop after my kids went to sleep. I woke up early for calls with APAC (miss you, Viv!). I ignored vacation time and stressed myself out to the point of losing my vision. I worked hard to reach this goal, this destination, this finale, this milestone that was a cause for celebration, a validation of achievement. Yet, it came. It went. And my kids still want Frosted Flakes for dinner.  

They say hindsight is 20/20 but hindsight plus experience is more like Lasik so things become even more clear. I realize now that Dyn was never a tangible thing to be sold and so selling it could never have been a goal. 

Instead Dyn was the vehicle that allowed me to work very hard. And that was my true goal. That was what I was striving for. 

The gift of waking up each morning, excited by the opportunity to share my gifts, surrounded by like-minded people I genuinely cared about, is the destination. And, depending on the vehicle (i.e. the company) this destination can last years. 

This realization has been impactful for me in two ways. 

From a business perspective

It really emphasizes the importance of culture. I’m 36 years old so I’ve been driving now for 20 years. Yet anytime I leave my parents’ house with my kids in the car, my mother will say, “Drive carefully. You’re carrying precious cargo.” If a company is a vehicle then the employees who are driving it are the precious cargo.

As we build York IE, we’re really focused on making it a great place to work because at the end of the day when you reflect on your run, as I’m doing now, it is the personal interactions – the inside jokes; the birthdays and new babies celebrated; the silent acknowledgement that you’re collectively part of something special; the television show you were definitely going to make* – that you remember. If those moments exist, the rest will follow. 

From a personal perspective

I am now trying very hard to no longer live for a perfect moment that will never come. Of course, I still catch myself saying “in a few months the kids will sleep better and things will be easier” or “I’ll get a new pair of pants after I lose 10 pounds in November.” But I am trying hard to not look off into the distance at some imaginary horizon that, upon arrival, was simply a figment of my imagination. 

In this marathon of life the conditions are perfect right now. So run. Run forward, even if you don’t know if you’re going in the right direction. Because here’s the beauty: the running is the important part. If you are running hard, using every ounce of strength God gave you, if you’re surrounded by people you care about, and if you have a smile on your face then you are going to end up exactly where you’re supposed to be because you’re already there. 

*My former colleague and good friend Mike Taylor and I had an excellent idea for a television show called Measure Once, Cut Twice where we tried home improvement repairs with zero training Tim Allen style. HGTV, if you’re reading, give me a call.

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