I was an early employee at a consultancy that grew into a platinum partner in the Salesforce ecosystem. Soon, we would be acquired, and I’d have to watch the culture we so carefully nurtured and protected dissolve into the corporate mentality trap.
This wasn’t the first time I saw something like this happen, but it was the one that hurt the most. It was at that point I realized the word success had vastly different meanings to the people who used it, and my definition no longer aligned with those at my side, bar a select few.
horrible timing yields a remarkable outcome
We had to do something, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. I just moved into a new home, my wife and I recently had our second child, and money was tight. But as she’s always done, she trusted that I was doing what I felt was right for our family.
She adamantly supported my choice to “give it a try,” and this is when Cloud Performer was born.
The goal was simple: keep doing what I love outside the confines of a corporate overlord. With no sales team, only a handful of contacts, and a few close friends, I began clawing my way into the ecosystem as a small, independent consultancy.
building credibility with a mainstream brand
Back then, it felt like we had to fit in and look like the other players in the space to gain credibility. At that time, this made sense to me, but if I could go back to 2012 and give myself one simple message it would be this: do it your way.
In the movie Field of Dreams, they hinge on the “build-it-and-they-will-come” motto. I knew this was the case for me as well, but the risk felt too great…irresponsible, even. Who am I to say this is the way it should be done?
The books and articles I read told me one way, yet my heart told me something different. The livelihood of my handful of employees and the families they support were top of mind, and they always will be.
I was paralyzed and didn’t know it.
the “great migration” and a grand reawakening
After a few years, we built up a cash reserve, had a client base that exceeded our capacity, and were working hundreds of hours a month. It was time to grow, and I was about to learn something.
People believed in me and, more importantly, our mission.
They were willing to leave the safety of their jobs at much larger organizations to join me at a fledgling startup. We’re talking about titans of industry, absolute rockstars who were willing to put their future on the line in order to create something more meaningful, to be part of something bigger, and to always do things our way.
Project work was abundant, we were pushing the limits of the platform, and really making a name for ourselves. For the next few years, we worked our asses off. We continued to grow, and those titans I mentioned earlier attracted even more titans.
The books were right, but I still felt something was off.
identifying an unsolved variable
I had run my own small ‘one-man show’ for a few years in my 20s and held various leadership positions in the technology space, but never as a CEO. And suddenly, I was sitting in a room full of some of the best consultants in the space. Over the years, I was continually humbled by what our team was accomplishing.
“It was no longer a question of whether or not we would be successful; it was more ‘how successful do we want to be.”
This was an incredible feeling, a wave of confidence that I rode for many years to come. Yet, I still felt as if something wasn’t right. In March 2022, that all changed. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were about to begin a significant journey. We were going to find our voice.
one question can change everything
We started a quick rebrand of the organization: updating the website, grabbing a new color palette, and adding a few new marketing materials to keep things fresh. Something to differentiate us visually in the ever-growing ecosystem.
That was the plan, or so we thought. Then, a simple question was asked that turned my world upside down, and I am eternally grateful that it did. Should we maybe look at changing our name?
What? Change our name? How did we go from a few updates to “Hey, let’s change our name?” I think my initial response was, ”we can talk about it, I guess.” And did we ever.
We assembled a team, did a round-robin of names, and spent countless hours searching for something that embodied who we were. We did what we do, we tackled the hell out of that question. Still, nothing felt right. I felt lost again, something I had not felt in years.
Then it happened. Someone I have been talking to for years, a titan in her own industry, saw me struggling. She believed in me, in who I was, and in what our company stood for. She knew my point of view on culture, our industry, and my belief in the people I work with.
She uttered some of the kindest words anyone at that time could have said to me: “do you mind if I take a crack at this?” I believe my response was an emphatic “absolutely!”, and I let out a sigh of relief.
reviewing concepts: a clear winner
The day had finally arrived, we were going to look at concepts. I was pumped. I eagerly joined the meeting and sat in anticipation of what we would review.
Option one was good, it embodied the culture to some degree and gave a good sense of progress and growth. Option two embodied our beliefs, helping others and working together. These options were great, but I still didn’t “feel” them.
Then came option three.
It came like a freight train and hit like one too. It was awesome! It was everything I wanted in a brand, but it was way off ‘mainstream,’ and that little voice in my head was still shouting, ‘remember what you read and what got you to where you are today’. It was the books talking, other people’s opinions on how to run a business.
a little help from my friends
I left the meeting feeling excited but concerned. That’s when I talked with one of my friends who said something very simple to me that changed my perspective:
“We are the company, and we can do whatever we want. We are with you, and you are with us. Let’s do it our way.” There it was again, that unfiltered belief in me, this company, and what we stand for.
It almost brought me to tears, we found our voice. Of all our accomplishments over the years, this one felt sweet, really sweet. As my boys would say, this was OP.
one last surprise before show time
I dove so head first into adopting the brand and making it a reality, that I somehow missed what was right in front of me. The funny part is, we spoke about this part multiple times: the fact that we were about to crest 10 years, a decade, in business. Hell, it’s even part of our new brand.
Yet it didn’t hit home until the most unexpected time. As we prepared for our soft launch in September, we had everyone go into LinkedIn and update their profiles. A very basic task, yet it had a tremendous impact.
As I scrolled down, I noticed that my profile read “CEO, 10 years”. Ten years. One. Zero. That’s so much time it has a special name, a decade. That’s when I lost it. No way it had been that long. It certainly doesn’t feel like a decade. It feels like it was just a few years ago that a few of us were huddled in a small room talking about the future.
That’s when I realized, wholeheartedly, that we had done something right, and it was about time we made our true voice heard.
becoming one with our new brand
I finally embraced the new brand with every fiber of my being. There is so much I could talk about regarding the brand and will in a future article. But know this, being comfortable to shed the shroud that held us back has been one of, if not the, most monumental change in our company’s history.
As those close to me know, I am not one for lack of words. But, I do struggle to speak freely in some cases. That’s about to change.
This next decade is going to be exciting. We will grow together, show organizations that it’s OK to be who you want to be, and not apologize for it.
We are going to ignore the status quo and do things the right way, our way. We will continue to push the limits of technology, while keeping our feet on solid ground. We are titans at work, at home, and in our communities.
We are VectorX.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to thank those people who believed in me, in us. Family, friends, and clients that took a chance early on. I think of you daily. I am grateful to call many of you friends today and that you have openly invited me into your lives.
We have done some incredible things, and I am eternally grateful for you and your belief in me. Now, let’s go show them what we can do with a decade of experience at our backs. Let’s show them who we really are and disrupt this industry that has gotten so stale.