Today was the last day of the last job I will ever have. I remain serially unemployable. For the past four months, I’ve wrestled with whether or not I should attempt to stick it out for the entirety of my three-year employment agreement, or surrender to the freedom that comes with being, once again, an entrepreneur. My decision to leave was illogical, unwise, risky, and perfectly liberating.
I’m thankful for the time I had the privilege to lead an incredible team of people who bled yellow and black. You know who you are, and I sincerely thank you. Keep doing the right thing!
Although I don’t have a definitive plan going forward, it should not surprise anyone that it will involve a big dream, a team of talented people, and a purpose and goal of doing something that can only be done together. It’s not what you do, but who you are that matters most.
The first thing most people will ask you after exchanging names is “what do you do?” In most cases, it’s a way of sizing you up, which is especially true with men, including me at times. Furthermore, when we talk about others, we typically are quick to point out what they do professionally, or what they’ve accomplished. As for me, my identity is much more than what I do or have done as an entrepreneur.
Early in my entrepreneurial career, it was common for me to work 12-16 hours per day. I thought that working long hours to the point of exhaustion demonstrated that I was a “man.” I was wrong. Last year, Mike Van Hoozer shared with me a simple way of deciphering between one’s identity and roles (see pic.) This simple exercise was very helpful, because it allowed me to visually see that who I am, isn’t defined by what I do.
I circled twice what’s most important to me, and where failure isn’t an option. It helps to have a partner to share the results of this exercise with, because everyone needs support, encouragement, and accountability.
My first challenge to you is to do this simple exercise, circle what’s most important to you, and then start taking the steps towards positive change.
The second challenge is the next time someone asks you what you do, make something up. If you can’t think of anything, tell them you work for A&B Elevator, and you’re a shaft inspector.
Morale of the story…don’t be defined by your job, be defined by your character.
To date I have either started and sold or bought and sold nine companies including DOYLES. Not one of those companies was on purpose. In other words, I didn’t deliberately start the company because it was something I was passionate about. In every case it was opportunistic. I saw a problem and wanted to fix it, or I thought I could buy a business and fix it, revolutionize it, etc. Furthermore, no business I have built has been something I was passionate about, which has come as a recent revelation to me. Being driven is different than being passionate. I’ve always been driven, however only now am I beginning to think about what I’m passionate about and what my purpose is in life. In part I think my purpose is to promote transparency, acceptance, and do the right thing hoping to influence others to do the same. It’s an exciting time for me as I continue to reflect on my life and dream about what the next chapter will look like. For some “reason” I think it may include horses.
Today was my first day on the job for my new employer. I felt like a stranger. I was asked by a senior manager to explain my role, and I struggled to articulate it. There was an awkward tension in the room to start, but things smoothed out, and we had a progressive conversation. The company is much larger than any company I’ve ever owned or run, and it’s full of smart people. A colleague of mine told me today that business development guys don’t really do anything. I hope that’s not true.
My Father, Doyle Henderson, died on September 21st, 2005. A few days later I called a meeting with approximately a dozen employees to let them know that they would keep their jobs through the balance of the year, and during that time, I would determine the fate of the company. Over the next three years, the company experienced exponential growth, made multiple acquisitions, employed hundreds of people all over Texas, and won many fans along the way. We treated our employees well, serviced our customers with conviction, and paid our vendors on time.
A few months after a highly strategic acquisition (mid 2008,) we were in trouble, and didn’t event know it. We were in a vacuum. Our cost structure was too high, and our backlog, AR, and sales were all shrinking. When we began to realize we needed to act, we had burned through millions and discovered our inventory was highly overvalued. Our credit was cut off, and tough times were imminent.
The past few years have been very taxing on many. We’ve lost good employees, let stakeholders down, stretched vendors, and have made many mistakes along the way. However, I’m proud of what we have accomplished, and am truly grateful to have shared the experience with so many people along the way.
Today, the name DOYLES still humbly stands for what matters most; doing the right thing.
Our CFO recently gave me a book called No Man’s Land by Doug Tatum. To my amazement, I realized that I’m not crazy, and that everything spinning out of control is actually normal when you take a company from 10 employees to 200 in 3 years. It’s interesting to think that a company can actually be profitable month to month, but have negative cash flows. Simply put, this book identifies with and gives hope to those in No Man’s Land, or the place where companies realize that they are too big to be small, and too small to be big. Although feeling a bit vulnerable, I have realized that we must focus on making the best decisions we can with the information we have, and not worrying about the things we can’t control.
Just got back from my first trip to Dubai. A great trip that exposed a great deal of opportunity. We were very well received, and it was very apparent that our desire to have a presence in the region is something to aggressively pursue. One of the most memorable experiences came on my first day. Bobby Stevens picked us up from the hotel in a Chrysler 300. The first thing I heard from this Mississippi native was, “there’s a million ways to make a million dollars in Dubai.” No doubt he was correct.
Aside from the business opportunities, Dubai is a great city. Great hotels, restaurants, and attractions. Very excited about what the future holds…