It was 0330 hrs on a dark and sleepless night in November 2001. The days had passed so quickly getting setup for this op, now the seconds seemed an eternity. The Team was in place. Everyone knew their job. We had planned for every contingency. We wait.
I remember when the concept for this was approached. A single discussion on another night that seemed like a lifetime ago. Who knew then that sleep would become a fond memory, discussed, but rarely seen. Had I made the right choices? Or did I take a risk to great, ask too much, and place others in a position that could impact their future in ways untold?
The palatable tension in the silence over the normally busy headset continued . . .
– – –
I was given a window of opportunity on that first night. After pointing out the need, presenting the objectives, and offering the solution, it was a go. I was told I could draw from the best people we had globally to build the Team. The decisions from that point forward were mine to make. This was my one chance to demonstrate to not only those above me and the Team once assembled, but to myself, that I had what it takes – we could do this. And thus it began.
The theater of operations for this was new to me. Sure, I had a background and training in similar situations, but this was different. I knew I had to bring people with skills I needed into the Team. The call went out. I searched through the database of dozens of possible recruits, handpicked the members, and built the most ragtag, disassociated, group ever seen!
I had a former Marine and small business owner from North Carolina with LESS experience online than me as my second in command. Brought in a woman from Portland who’s prior endeavor had ended up, shall we say, less than stellar? A man from Queensland, Australia, with no special attributes other than he looked like a mortician in a suit on video. And then there was this guy from Canada that slept on a bench in the subway, had a strange obsession with pizza, and worked from an internet cafe.
Yep, we had a Team! And the person that greenlighted this? He just thought I was insane!
– – –
The seconds continued to drag on as I moved my hand into position, took a deep breath, poised for the -go- command to come over the headset. And then, it happened.
Zero hour – the time we had worked so hard, for so long, had arrived. The words “It’s ready, do it“ came over the speaker. My fingers reacted without thought, sending that one -shot- into the darkness. Again, we waited . . .
– – –
Was I crazy? I had asked myself that question many times over the previous weeks. Every time, answering in the affirmative – yes, but with intent!
Each person on this Team was picked not for what they had done, but what they could do if given the opportunity. Myself included. We came together, met the challenges, and formed the basis for the future. It ROCKED! But did it work?
– – –
Then the silence was broken. The voice on the headset told us the -shot- had reached its target, and he had sent each of us an email. It was the first, of many, that congratulated the Team on a ‘job well done’.
The op we had been brought together to accomplish was an HTML email newsletter, a new concept at that time. The -shot- was the first email that went out to more than 25,000 people globally when launched, and grew to well over a million.
Yeah, it worked. And we finally slept.
– – –
The Team went on from there. Accomplished many things within that program, and set standards still used today. More importantly, though, is the relationships and dynamics forged during this.
Robert Fortin, the Marine, became my partner in RX2Central.com, and we developed several programs together. His offline business grew from a single operation in North Carolina to one that encompasses several States, has branched out into new ventures, and one I am proud to say I had a small part in. We still spend time sitting on a boat in the Intercostal Waterway off North Carolina plotting global domination.
Shari Thomas moved from Portland to Idaho and started a successful blog about her adventures which transformed into a profitable business that she still operates today.
Dave Underwood never wore that suit again! Last we talked, he was still working with Michael Russell in Australia, the man who gave us the chance to fail – and helped us succeed.
That guy in the Canadian subway? He turned his love of pizza into a plan, and never stopped moving forward. Although we worked together on several projects over the years, our being friends is the greatest accomplishment that resulted from that first encounter. He is Jon Olson.
– – –
We never know when an opportunity may present itself. It usually appears in the form of adversity, hard work, and challenges. It is these aspects that offer us a chance, one to do what is needed. To succeed, or not, on our own merit.
In our journey, it is the path least traveled that presents the opportunity for the greatest reward. One which forces us outside our comfort zone and requires us to learn new skills, reach deep within ourselves to maintain the level of effort needed, and overcome obstacles. It is because of this that we grow in ways that lead us to new paths, new adventures, as we continue.
It can be done. Each of us has what is needed. It is all a matter of doing what it takes.
When the Team first came together, there were doubts. None of us had ever undertaken such a project even on a small scale, and there we were. Thrust into a situation (of my making) with thousands of people waiting to see what we could do. And yet, through it all, not ONCE did anyone say it couldn’t be done!
Challenge yourself. Assume the risk. You will never know what you are truly capable of until you try.
I was given a chance – my shot in the dark. With the help of others, it worked. Now is your time, your chance. Take it!
With Sincere Thanks
“The only limits we have are those you impose upon yourself. Remove the limits!”
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