A word from our CEO & President
Finding My Inner Voice
14 years ago the most bizarre thing happened to me. I lost my voice. For someone who talks for a living – I’m a sales and marketing professional – losing my voice was a pretty big deal!
To put it into perspective, let me give you a little background: I have a kick-ass, 30-year reputation for consistently getting more business for the clients I serve. I honed my sales and marketing skills while serving the retail marketing giants and the world-class brands Max Factor, Gillette and BASF. I was a road warrior responsible for million dollar quotas, managing the activities of armies of sales reps – which, honestly, was a lot like herding cats.
In 1998, BASF left the U.S. marketplace of consumer product lines, causing me to experience a major professional – and personal – image change. Afterwards, I went to work for a family-owned business, undertaking the task of building their marketing business. Before long, I realized that if you work for a family business and you aren’t family…well, you just aren’t family! No more level playing field for me.
The world often works in mysterious ways. One day, while talking on the phone in the shipping department of this family-owned business of which I was not family, I caught a virus in my vocal fold (it’s not a chord, it’s a fold) and got laryngitis. For nearly a month I was barely able to whisper, but soon no one could hear me. I went to the otolaryngologist, where I was informed that my vocal fold was paralyzed. Yes, paralyzed!
“OMG,” I thought. “I’m a salesperson and I can’t talk!” Panic began to set in. Not being able to talk meant that I couldn’t network well – even a person standing next to me couldn’t hear my barely audible, whispery voice. I couldn’t talk on the phone to schedule my sales calls. And heartbreak of all heartbreaks…I couldn’t root and cheer for my beloved Phillies.
I spent the next year taking test after test, ultimately going for therapy to learn how to speak again. I did this by learning to compensate with my other vocal fold. Boy, was that challenging! There was, however, a funny part to all this – I had music therapy where I got to sing. Anyone who knows me knows that although I love music, singing is NOT my forte!
So, what did I learn from this experience?: Once I was able to speak at a whisper again, I noticed something very ironic. Because I had to speak so softly, people listened more intently to what I had to say. Plus, since it was real work to speak, I made every word count.
Not being able to speak for such a long time was a very humbling experience, and though I never complained, there was more cost to me than just losing my voice for that year. You see, I was downsized, right-sized, or laid-off – call it what you will. I had to reinvent myself and take on a whole, new professional persona. I was no longer a national sales and marketing manager for a mega-company.
Today, I am CEO and President of my own company. I built this business from nothing with the support and encouragement from my family, friends, and loyal clients. To this day, most people don’t know that I have a paralyzed vocal fold. I haven’t shared it before because I did not want it to define me. But they’ll know now, won’t they?