Down 7, Up 8

I saw a license plate today that read “DWN7UP8,” and it really struck a chord with me.

In a society where we are always being measured, compared, monetized, KPI’d and ROI’d, it’s hard not to get caught up in where you are RIGHT NOW. However, like life, our careers are a journey. A long game where we take some losses, we have some wins, and the goal is the net sum. Down 7, Up 8 sews that up quite succinctly.

It made me reflect a little on my career and how things have progressed since I entered AV.

DWN7UP8

I started with a residential integrator in 2002 and worked there through 2006 during the heart of the housing boom in AZ.  In 2006, I found myself making six figures without a degree at 29 years old, a feat I never thought I’d accomplish at the time. I was Up 1.

I moved to a second company and was promoted to regional manager for another residential AV firm. Unfortunately, that was 2007-2008 when the bubble broke. My compensation was tied to a heavy P&L bonus, but since there was no “P,” I took an “L” and was Down 1.

Luckily, my previous employer had faith in my past performance and brought me back to help with a shift towards commercial AV. I was given a six-figure, one-year deal to make something happen in an otherwise down market. Up 1 again!

In 2009, after a year of high-end custom and commercial AV sales and strategy, my company decided they wanted to refocus on the production home market. They held the logic that if we just worked two times as hard, it would all come back. They reduced my salary and obliterated the commission structure. I essentially took a 60% pay cut. Down 1.

2009 brought on a move. I was hired by a company in California that did museum and visitor center AV. I came into the market knowing no one. I found a networking group, met other trades and built GC relationships. I got to do some cool projects for universities, colleges, the military, churches, law firms and corporate clients. Back Up 1.

In 2013, I moved to the manufacturer side. I worked on some cool custom interactive projects for touch panels, but the sales cycle for development was long and I didn’t have box sale clients to fill the gaps. Nine months later, I lost my first job. Down 1 (which felt worse than the others).

2013 landed me at Milestone AV with one of the most fun groups of people I ever worked with. We had great clients. I built lots of relationships with integrators and really came into my own. Up 1.

2013 also landed me at rAVe, a place I’ve loved being able to contribute to for the last eight years. Up 1.

In 2017, after a potential M&A shake-up, I decided to go to Barco. I loved some of the people I worked with and got to do some cool projects. Up 1.

2019 brought Tangram and what I thought would be my forever home. It also provided a chance to bring 18 years of AV to a new workplace company. In the end, my vision really didn’t align with theirs. I knew it was time to reconnect to a formal tech role and back to my passion. Down 1.

So, where am I today? HD Distributing came to me through a former Milestone connection. Great people. Great products. Small team. A chance to build again, which I have always loved. That’s definitely an Up 1.

Where am I overall? Up 7, Down 4 from a career standpoint, I’d say. I’m up in a long-term game, but with the awareness that the score can change rapidly. Either side can go on a run at any time. Don’t get in your head about the losses, and don’t get too proud of yourself on the wins.

The goal is to extend the Up periods as much as possible and to mitigate the Downs by using your network for mobility when needed. At the end of the day, we all achieve wins and we all take losses. Some are due to market conditions while others are due to performance (good or bad) on our own parts. The goal is to do more good than bad, and to find more ways to win than lose. The perfect score is hard to achieve.

Be content with DWN7UP8, and you win.