Potatoes, Open Road and a Compass

 

I have several inspirational signs in my office. My favorite reads like this: “Many people miss opportunity because it shows up in overalls and requires work.”

 

Making the decision to walk away from something you have worked on tirelessly is never easy. Stepping back is truly an opportunity to reflect and redirect our energy. Yet it is an opportunity that owners rarely take advantage of. Why? In part because they think they can’t afford “the luxury” of disconnecting from the business.

 

Then there is the other part – the scary part. It involves the kind of internal work we as leaders KNOW needs to be done, but we keep pushing aside until we hit that wall. Then we have no choice but to put on those proverbial overalls and get to work. “Next Chapter” is both a beginning and an end. The work is also both hard and necessary.

 

When I realized that it was in my best interest to step away from Cleo, I was a least a year past that first tinge of discontent.  We had pushed so hard for so many years to create success; first with preparing EXTOL for acquisition, then with the integration of multiple teams, services and locations into one unified Cloe, that the reset decision was no longer an inkling. It was a necessity. 

Of course, with a family, there are always bills to pay and being idle is not something I do well. What could I do that would get me out of my head and allow me the time and space to find my next chapter? I looked back to move forward. I turned to one of my childhood bucket list jobs that would give me plenty of think time – driving an 18-wheeler. 

I signed up for my A-endorsement, passed the tests, did the pre-trip and driving exam. I was hired by Masser Logistics, a multi-generational (8th Gen) potato grower and shipper right here in Pennsylvania. They gave me the opportunity – along with a lot of training and patience – to hit the road. It was January 2020 and Spudman was born.

This chapter in my life was quite serendipitous. Hired right before COVID hit the US, with the country shutting down, and a run on basics in grocery stores, the need to keep them stocked up grew exponentially. This decision to drive rig came at the right time and launched my internal road trip of “what’s next?”.   

Although it was a bit creepy as it truly seemed like a post-apocalyptic scene from “Mad Max”, as a new driver it was good. Very little traffic, lots of time to myself and what would become a year of firsts:

• Starting a new OTR career (on the road – a lot!)

• Living out of my truck

• Talking via CB and trucker networks via cell phone

• Logging over 100,000 miles

• Driving and waiting to load/unload thousands of hours

• Absorbing hundreds of podcasts and Audible tracks

• Reading dozens of books 

 

I spent those miles and hours going over what I had learned working for EXTOL and Cleo. How my life, and even myself, had changed. What went well and what I would do over. 2020 was an amazing year of opportunity, reflection and planning for the future. I truly believe that if you are a good person, willing to learn, treat everyone with respect and dignity then good things will happen.  

Well, the Universe delivered a next chapter opportunity in mid-November. I was on my way out to pickup some potatoes in the Midwest when I received a call from my friend Wayne Herring. We caught up for a while, then the conversation took an interesting turn.

Wayne: “So how long are you planning on being a trucker?”  

Me: “I promised Masser I would be there a year and that is over in February 2021. This year has been my way to refocus on what’s next, you know, reset my compass. Why?”

Wayne: “I may have your next compass.” 

I was all ears.

The interview process with Compass Point Consulting began November 2020 from the road of course. Lots of calls and zoom meetings due to COVID, not only with the Compass Point team, but their Circle of Influence network as well. They had their vision of the next “who” and my year of reflection behind the wheel gave me the insights to understand what kind of company I would be an A player at. Our paths merged and on February 1, 2021 I was in a new seat – one of a Senior Business Advisor – and hit the ground fully reset and running.

The best part? After the trials and tribulations of the last 5 years, it was great to be invited to a team that not only focused on family business owners and their whole leadership team, but IS a family onto itself. 

“Breaker, Breaker 1-9… this is Spudman… signing off.” 

Let the next chapter begin.

 

 

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Matthew is a Senior Business Advisor at Compass Point Consulting and provides hands-on consulting & coaching to help family businesses close performance gaps; give owners practical, actionable tools that drive growth; deliver training to develop leaders and position the business for successful ownership transition - all on their terms.

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