I received the below letter from a listener of my podcast, "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do". His experiences is a good reminder of the importance of getting involved with your industry trade associations. All the stars can line up for your career when you meet the right people.
In addition to sharing his letter, I have asked Jesse to be a guest on my podcast, as I can tell that his entrepreneur journey has many lessons that will be helpful to others. Check out "Cool Things" in the next few weeks to hear his whole story.
I've been meaning to write to you for some time and share a neat set of circumstances that involved your podcast.
Sorry, the set up is a tad long but I think it'll be worth a read to you (and no, there isn't a sales pitch at the end, just a thank you.)
A little more than a year ago my wife and I realized it was time for a change for our family. Up to that time, I have had several careers and treated each of them like I would be there forever. My last two careers (IT and Ministry) spanned about 10 and 15 years each - which I suppose for some would be forever.
Until last year, each time I had changed jobs or careers I already had the next one in line. This was different. I was taking a season away from ministry not knowing how long that would be and not knowing what would be next. It was a scary step.
In thinking about what was next, becoming a freelance worker certainly had some appeal. We were also invited to partner in a business - a toy store. Having worked around children my whole life, that certainly had appeal...but I also knew it had risk.
In May of last year, our family packed up for what would potentially be our last vacation for a while. Whenever we'll be driving for a while I select a few podcast to listen to...and with the discussion of becoming a small business owner of some sort, Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do was an intriguing title.
The first episode that I listed to was the one with Michelle Sahr.
Like I said, we had been invited to partner in a toy store and as part of the exploration, I had considered attending an ASTRA conference (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association). Again and again in the episodes I listened to, you encouraged people to be involved in their industry's associations. By the time I arrived at our vacation's hotel I felt I had made a mistake by not checking out the conference. Wondering how much it would cost me by missing the early bird pricing (the conference was now about 2 weeks away), I check to see if I could even get in.
To my surprise, not only could I get in, they had a special for that weekend that brought the price down to the early bird pricing I had missed.
I sent of my information to register and began to enjoy the vacation.
Friday night, I checked my email to find details on the conference. For first time attenders they offered to pair you with a veteran to help you learn the ins and outs of the conference and (for those with a store) so that you'll have someone after the conference is over that you can lean on when you have questions.
Unfortunately, Friday was the deadline to sign up for the program. The email also noted that they would be out of the office over the weekend. I knew that I was late signing up for the conference and not really surprised that I missed out on getting in on the "All-Star" program. In fact, I figured all the "good" veterans had been assigned weeks ago.
Having run much smaller conferences I could only imagine how much work the ASTRA staff was doing. Nevertheless, I decided to be bold and ask if I could be let into the All Star program late. I thought there was little chance my email would even be read.
When I got home on Sunday, I checked my email and found that one of the organizers of the conference had emailed me. Thinking it was an automated mail with information about the conference, I opened it and was surprised that it wasn't an automated mail.
It was an email about the All-Star program - when to meet, special events for veterans and their newbies, things like that. At the bottom of the email was a name and phone number for my veteran.
I read the name and the city and thought: Weird, that podcast I listened to on Thursday had someone from Ohio. In fact, I think it might have even been that town. I wonder if it is a local competitor.
Instead of fully connecting the dots, I googled my veteran and her store. Wait, she has a cheese store too?!? That's not possible. So I grab my phone and scroll back to your podcast and there it is, the name of the person that was to be my veteran at the conference your podcast convinced me I should attend....
Turns out all the good veterans hadn't already been assigned.
Again, sorry for the length. I hope this lifts your spirit and encourages you to continue in what you do. Your podcasts are great and you are making a difference.
As you can see from my signature block we moved forward with the toy store. I'm still listening and hope that someday I'll be able to join in one of your mentoring groups.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
Address: 316 S Main Street, Mansfield, TX 76063
If you are in the Greater Dallas area, check out Sockmonky Junction toy store in Mansfield, TX.
Have A Great Day