Katie and I spent New Year’s Eve with friends at two separate house parties, both of which were a lot of fun. There was a “black” theme at one of the parties to represent the “laying to rest” of 2009. Not one to settle for just black tie, I also donned a head band and katana to be a black tie ninja. Not exactly funeral attire, but much more fun!
At both parties many people seemed very excited for 2009 to be over; it wasn’t a great year for most. For me, though, it was pretty awesome. In this post I’ll take a look at my journey through this roller coaster of a year.
Of course the story of the first half of 2009 for me was Poken. I came on board five days before product launch as employee #7 and manager #2, originally in charge of Product. As our first product took off, it became apparent that our major challenges weren’t in product–they were in delivery. So I shifted in March to become Head of Global Operations, tasked with building the team, systems, and processes to enable our little company (headcount 11 by that point) to grow to the next level. By July we had sold hundreds of thousands of pokens in 30 countries, grown to a staff of 20 in two locations, won major awards, introduced a second product, and my Poken-related travels had taken me across three continents. What a whirlwind! The best thing that came out of it by far, though, was working with such a great team–talented, passionate, and of high integrity.
This made it very difficult for me to decide to leave Poken at the end of August. Everything was going so well and, moreover, I was loving living in Switzerland. However, as most readers know, I am committed to working toward a better energy future and Poken simply didn’t match up with that goal. What’s more, living so far from Katie was great for our frequent flier miles, but not so great for our goals of being together (She’s sitting here next to me on the couch as I type and this is exactly what we were missing.).
So, I made a decision for my career, my relationship, and my ethic of what is right–and I made this decision with my heart instead of with my head, which is something on which I worked a great deal in . . . business school, of all places. But then IMD was hardly a typical business school!
After taking September off to travel around Europe visiting fantastic wineries and even more fantastic friends, I returned to my home in Houston and began work on the next chapter. For the last quarter of 2009 I divided my time between getting settled back into American life and laying the foundation for pursuit of my career dream in 2010.
My quest to find something that marries my skills in leadership, experience in IT entrepreneurship, and passion for green energy culminated by the end of the year in being given the opportunity to join the senior management team of a UK-based cleantech company to help them scale up globally–with particular focus on the American market.
It took us a while to structure the deal and, as expected, the real work to getting the deal done wasn’t financial or strategic; it was rooted in personal dynamics. Again, I felt the benefit of IMD preparation throughout the process. Now at the cusp of 2010, we have created a subsidiary company in the US (Smart Office Energy Solutions), raised a modicum of seed capital, imported products from the UK, begun the electrical certification process, and secured our first clients and resellers. There is still a long, long way to go before we’ve empowered businesses worldwide to reduce their office energy consumption 30%, but the momentum is so exciting!
As many readers also know, fitness is a major part of my life and the end of the year offers a good time to pause, reflect, evaluate how things went, and adjust the future course. In terms of meeting fitness goals, 2009 was really a Tale of Two Halves. In the first six months of the year I shed ~5 lbs of bodyfat while adding 4 of lean muscle mass–both good trends! But, here at the end of the year, I’m only ~2 lbs of bodyfat down with no real change in lean muscle mass. Most men in their 30s add fat and lose muscle each year, so I can’t really complain about staying relatively even. However, this is a major disappointment to someone who seeks constant improvement–especially given how well the year began. The second half of the year was filled with travel, change, and adaptation to a new fitness regime back in the States. As I look toward 2010, I believe I have a solid base under me on which to get back on track.
Well there you have it: 2009, not a bad year all-in-all and one filled with great opportunities to be realized in 2010. In my next post I’ll discuss plans for 2010 and . . . new year’s resolutions!