How many people can really say that they owe everything to a single gift? I’m sure some accomplished musicians got their start when someone gave them a guitar, or maybe a renowned scientist can remember that first microscope under the Christmas tree. For me, the gift was a desktop application programming language system called CA-Clipper.
Everything about that gift was unexpected. I had just graduated high school, and my brother Joe surprised me with both a visit and that gift. Joe was twenty-one years older than me and lived several states away at the time. It was 1988, so I honestly had no idea what to do with a computer programming language application. But Joe saw potential in both that application and my ability to master it, and that was enough encouragement for me to embrace that gift.
You see, Joe was the kind of guy who could inspire anyone. Saddled with a chronic debilitating disease throughout his life, Joe harnessed the power of “possibility” thinking and used it to defy every bleak prognosis. If Joe believed in me, then I believed in myself. If Joe thought this computer programming language was worth the investment of time and study, then that’s what I thought. If Joe said that this program held a world of possibilities for me, then I listened to him. While the influencer concept wasn’t a thing back then, that’s exactly what Joe was. He influenced a lot of people with his “no excuses” approach to life, and I’m really glad I was his follower.
Mastering the Gift
I dove into learning that CA-Clipper programming language. Computer software was gaining momentum, so I knew that even though I wasn’t sure what I would do with it yet, I was gaining a very useful skill.
My first opportunity to apply this newfound knowledge finally revealed itself through a college friend. The friend was a DJ at a local radio station, and I used to hang out with him while he worked. I noticed that the DJs seemed to have a lot of freedom with their playlists, and that what they chose to play or not play wasn’t always in line with what the station program mangers wanted. Since the program managers had to answer to executives and sponsors, I recognized that they really should be able to have more authority over the playlists. I developed an algorithm that streamlined the playlist according to the program manager’s schedule and removed DJ interference.
The interesting thing is that it wasn’t that application that really inspired me. It was what happened next. Corporations typically own large groups of radio stations. That means that policies, procedures, and resources are pretty uniform throughout the group of stations. My playlist program was well-received at the radio station where I introduced it, but I quickly realized that there was nothing stopping that one station from sending a copy of the software to every other station in the broadcasting group. That one sale could be copied indefinitely, never making me another dime.
Protecting my program from being copied was my real opportunity to master the gift of CA-Clipper. I think there’s an irony in how it all happened. I had to write a program worth protecting before I understood that protecting software programs was the true market need. It was 1991, software development as an industry was about to really take off, and I had a product that protected innovators and their ideas. After I was approached by the third person who needed my services to protect their software program, I knew that I had found the possibility Joe believed I would, and the Protection PLUS software product activation and licensing toolkit was born. Although I hit a bump in the road with a local patent attorney, Protection PLUS was the first software product activation and licensing toolkit on the market.
Applying the Gift
The Protection PLUS software product activation and licensing toolkit would become the cornerstone of my company, SoftwareKey.com. I approached my clients with a collaborative mindset so that the solutions we developed were effective and applicable to their real-world needs. This business style led to steady growth and a loyal client base.
With SoftwareKey.com operations on a steady pace, I took some time to entertain a new possibility. An entrepreneurial mind never stops innovating! A previous client asked me to consult as a licensing expert in his software startup, 321 Studios. That consulting turned into a full-time position as Chief Technology Officer, and I spent the next few years in an exciting whirlwind of cross-country flights, growing two businesses, leveraging my skills in programming and business applications, and managing bandwidth-breaking sales volume.
Between everything I learned from that intense, hands-on experience and the way I was able to leverage SoftwareKey’s product activation and licensing tools throughout it, I came out of that experience far more polished in my approach to business development.
Gaining confidence in business produces an interesting result. Confidence inspired me to learn even more about business and to seek out advisors and consultants who would help me grow. I was no longer afraid of being exposed as inexperienced or naïve. I knew what I had accomplished, so I was on the lookout for people who could elevate me to accomplish even more.
SoftwareKey.com continued growing, and I began investing time and money into my own entrepreneurial growth. I budgeted my time differently so that I could focus on reading business and self-help books or blogs and listening to podcasts. I hired business coaches, personal coaches, and other advisors or consultants who would ask questions that sparked my growth mindset and then challenge me to reach new goals in my business. With growth prominent on my mind, I knew I had to be willing to let outsiders offer support and objective perspectives in order to see what can’t be seen from the inside.
As someone who leverages the talents of other people to get where I want to go faster, I’ve learned a lot about doing the same for others. Now that I have achieved that confidence in my own skills as an inventor and innovator, I’m one of the experts I used to seek. I’ve become a technology coach and consultant for rising innovators who need an experienced advisor to stand in their corner and help them approach challenges and avoid pitfalls.
Multiplying the Gift
As much as I appreciate so many of the consultants and coaches who guided me along the way, my brother Joe is still my number one influencer. My dear brother Joe passed away in 2019. He had plans to go dancing right up until his last breath, and that’s the kind of thinking that was his true gift to me (and lots of other people!). As long as I’m here, I am committed to making my brother proud of me by embracing his no excuses approach to life.
While Joe missed out on all the madness that Covid-19 ushered into this world, I thought of him often while I watched everything drastically change in front of my eyes.
Joe would want me to do something useful to help make this situation better. How could I apply my specific set of skills to assess this new way of doing business and figure out how to make it better? The innovator within kicked into overdrive, and I started thinking.
I realized that customer flow management, which was always a point of tension for service providers, is now one of the highest priorities in the new economy. Think about it: businesses are operating with limited staff and hours while the volatile supply chain causes ever-shrinking profit margins. Businesses have to provide more with less, so every minute of operations needs to be maximized with satisfied customers. On the customer side, no one wants to wait, and they especially don’t want to be stuck in a crowded waiting area. They want streamlined service from the first point of contact of booking service.
I used my gifts – my technology skills, my innovator instincts, and my possibilities thinking – to devise the solution. What if there was an application that provided real time arrival management so that businesses can optimize their schedule and customers know they’ll be served when they walk through the door?
With my patent-pending Predictive Virtual Queuing algorithm, every business that takes reservations, bookings, or appointments can achieve that optimized schedule, and every customer can have confidence in being served upon arrival. Using GPS and AI, my newest innovation will provide automatic 2-way coordination, real-time location updates, and waitlist-to-reservation system synchronization. Check out Floqque.com for yourself to learn more about how it works. I’d love to hear what you think!
In the meantime, leave a comment on this post about your biggest influencer and what possibility thinking has helped you discover about your own potential over the past few years. I’d love to encourage you as you discover your own possibilities!