The House That Made Me...My Story
Vegas Baby! You hear how Vegas has changed people’s lives a thousand times but it’s usually for the worse. In my case, Vegas is the reason I am where I am today. You see, as most young people I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just knew going into college that my health was important to me and I wanted to help people. But I NEEDED to get value out of my education because I was a pretty-pretty spoiled princess in high school and when my family went bankrupt my senior year, I learned that the trust fund set up to pay for my education had vanished! I was faced with the reality that I would have to put myself thru college because my parents wouldn’t tolerate the idea of me not going but also could not help me. Using what logic I could gleam from the rock and hard place life had put me in, and since I had no direction what-so-ever, I decided that I could leverage my education to take care of myself and my future family if I focused on the health and fitness industry. So I chased a Kinesiology degree. I became your cliché college student. I worked full time at a 2-story Mexican bar and restaurant where I had to run stairs every night to deliver kitchen orders. I did this while going to school full time, and partied full time (not sure if slept those years), always trying to make ends meet. It got so bad that I didn’t have the money to fix my car one year, so it sat in my apartment parking lot for about 10 months. That year I would walk and bike to school and work and yes, it was uphill both ways in the snow. NO JOKE!!! Coming out of college with no other real skills, other than schlepping food and drinks in a college bar and a Kinesiology degree, I became a personal trainer. I know that being a trainer is cool NOW, but this was long before that time. I spent many a wee and twilight hours training people in their homes, worked for 2-3 gyms at any time because nobody wanted to pay benefits, and worked lunches at the local Chili’s restaurant. And I STILL could not make ends meet, even with two roommates! Then Vegas happened. My dad had always said he wanted to take all of his girls to Vegas, so he booked our flights and hotels, we just had to get there with spending money. I remember the day we were leaving, looking down at the stack of bills on my desk thinking that I couldn’t even pay those…I had no business going to Vegas. But I went with zero money to spend. I spent the first 2 days following my family around watching them play and have fun. I didn’t even have money to eat so I’d follow my dad around during mealtimes so that he’d feel obligated to pick mine up too. It was BAD! I decided in that moment that this was no way to live and when I got home I would find a means to an end. Long story short, I fell into an IT job working for what is now a bright pink Tier 1 wireless carrier (not to name names) when they only had 30k subscribers in Hawaii doing billing QA. Not a glamorous job, but I’ll take it! So I joined an IT team and on my first day I didn’t know how to turn my computer off. I had to ‘phone a friend’. No really, I did! Her name is Sara. What I didn’t’ anticipate is how good I was going to be at this! Within 7 months I had learned everything there was to learn about how the company operated and was promoted to manage all of the revenue impacting production systems based on the UNIX OS. My first question, “how do you spell UNIX”? That’s right, I had no idea what I was doing. My team was mortified that I was made manager and systematically quit on me one person at a time. Every time someone left, I’d have to learn their jobs in the two-week resignation window so I could train the next person coming in. The whole team of 5 turned over in under 4 months. Wireless really began to take off at this point and the merger and acquisition phase of the story began. On top of running production, I was asked to lead the M&A charge on consolidating our IT platforms and business operations in 7 different areas. I took the challenge by the horn, spent the greater part of a year transforming our business support and operating systems. The week before our company was acquired by a bigger carrier, I resigned and went into management consulting. I did not know where I belonged, but I was pretty sure my life was not waiting for me in Seattle. This lead me to live in DC and Chicago for 6 months each, facilitating large IT transformation programs and new market launches for wireless carriers. Then I had the opportunity to go to Bangkok for 6 months, where I lead the ‘soup to nuts’ testing team that took a new wireless company to market in 2002. This is where I met my ex-husband, but that’s a different story (albeit a good one!) for another time. Fast forward a year and a half and my husband and I relocated to Dallas in search of work-life balance where we worked for Israel’s equivalent of Microsoft whose culture had a special entrepreneurial spirit about it. I was an executive in this company for 13 years, where I had the opportunity to bring a new product line to market from inception through implementation, and be the ‘COO’ of one of our Tier 1 wireless accounts as well as our Latin America division, both boasting P&L’s of over $200M annually. I spent my last hoorah with that company focusing on sales and when an opportunity to recuse myself presented itself, so I asked for my package and ventured into small business. This was both the scariest thing I'd ever done, which has also proved the most rewarding. I not only found my way back to entrepreneurial endeavors as COO of Crowdshare and Founder of iBride Network, I also co-founded GTM Accelerators, a which allows my business partner and I to harness the tools and resources we’ve amassed over the last 3 years of running a startup to help other entrepreneurs accelerate their time to market, not making the same mistakes we did. My passion and ministry is helping small businesses and entrepreneurs get access to solutions that add value to their business, saving them time and money.