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What Doesn’t Kill You Only Makes You Stronger (or Surviving the Economy of 2009)


Wow, what a ride this past year has been.  What I thought would be a year of tough decisions, careful planning and execution turned out to be an all out fight for survival.

AG Salesworks is one of the lucky ones; many of our competitors did not survive. 

It took a lot out of me, and our entire team, but I must say I have learned more and made more difficult decisions in the past year, than I have in perhaps the last decade of my career.  Losing good customers due to budget cuts and waiting for budget freezes to thaw to sign new ones were just a couple of challenges we faced this year.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge we faced was laying off quality, hardworking employees, who were doing a great job for their clients, due to budget freezes.  We had to operate the business with little or no margin for error, while watching every penny, and over analyzing each decision.  It has been exhausting.

There are two main reasons we made it through stronger than ever, though:

First, the incredible AG team.  Every manager and individual was asked to do more with less.  I am absolutely humbled with how dedicated the AG team is.  AG Salesworks has clearly transcended myself and my business partner Peter.  The drive to push AG through a very difficult market environment became somewhat of an obsession; the "will not fail" attitude within this organization is beyond any I have ever seen.

The second reason we've made it through stronger than ever has been because of optimism.  I have lived my life with a "glass half full" attitude, and have apparently surrounded myself with those who are like minded.  We are confident that we can provide a level of service unparalleled in the industry, and we set out to accomplish that each day.  We put our heads down with assurance, knowing the immense value we provide our clients would ensure our continued growth and prosperity.

What I learned and what was reinforced to me this year:

I learned to focus on what customers need versus what they want.  Deliver value, no fluff.

Operational efficiencies - many expenses that I thought were a must have turned out to fall into the nice to have bucket.  We are a much more efficient organization today.  "Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves," my mother once told me.  She was a very wise woman.

A "team" -  I might have underestimated the true power of a team; I learned this year just how a team is much more than the sum of its parts.

Sales - You can't just take orders in a tough economic environment, you better know how to portray value, and do it in a concise manner.

And how about myself?  What did learn about me this year?  I learned how to dig deeper, push harder, let go and depend more on the team to drive success.

I now truly understand the meaning of "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  And by the way, I don't need a second lesson.


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