My career has helped me develop the skills, experiences, intuition and understanding of the “big picture” (or, more acurately, various “big pictures”) to help others succeed. This little narrative really just scratches the surface of the many projects I worked on.
One thing that I am very proud of: once I started using technology to solve marketing, communication, and business challenges, I never again filled a position previously held. I was always involved with new initiatives.
I started working when I was 15, setting up chairs and getting crayons for the religious education program down the street. I then worked retail at Caldor and Heartland Drug – both long gone now.
From this retail experience, I was hired to manage something new: The Video Tape Rental Store. I eventually opened a number of successful video stores (pre Blockbluster) for grocery men who found renting videos a better business than competing against the growing number of supermarkets.
That was the beginning of my experience of applying technology solutions to business challenges. I went from a completely hand-written system to researching and installing a computerized point-of-sale and inventory system.
I took an additional part-time job answering the phones in the morning taking customer inquiries for the major newspaper in Connecticut: The Hartford Courant. I quickly moved into a supervisor role and was in the newspaper full time.
I worked eleven great years at the newspaper where I continued to apply new technology to business challenges.
I programmed our first scheduling system in the customer service department. I developed methods of extracting data from our billing system to run customer retention reports. I created a system where organizations like The Greater Hartford Arts Council could enter events into a database that could then be imported into our weekly Calendar section. I developed, innovative at the time, direct mail programs and marketing campaigns. I fondly remember those days of Claritas / PRIZM and “The Clustering of America.” We had some serious fun trying to figure the geo-demographic magic behind marketing in the newspaper industry.
The Touch-Tone Phone
While at The Courant, I helped develop a modular touch-tone phone system that allowed us to build interactive phone applications very quickly. I worked side-by-side with the programmer to come up with a way to string voice files and data collection elements together using the touch tone phone as an interface. We created various call-in information services, polls, contests, etc., very quickly.
IBM was impressed with our work and put one of their programmers on site to develop with us. That was a lot of fun.
I then was given a ground-floor opportunity to develop our Web presence and came to be quite skilled at combining technology with marketing and communication needs. We did some pretty amazing things then – including a shot at helping newspapers enter the online auction business (yikes!). And then I developed our first intranet.
Those entrepreneurial days working with all departments – and in direct support of HR – would prove to be a hint of what was to come.
I left the newspaper industry to join an advertising agency to start up a new Web development venture. Now I was on my own developing websites and intranets for clients of all types.
I had a knack for understanding businesses and their operations and products quickly. I enjoyed the direct contact with clients and we invented new ways to communicate. Our clients were comfortable with my approach and we hired more people that I managed directly. We were a great creative team that delivered excellent results while having fun. That business grew significantly within a short time.
Eventually, though, I missed focusing on one company. I found an excellent opportunity with a large, privately owned company where I would have access to everyone within the organization.
I found an excellent marketing opportunity at major logistics company. It was great; I worked directly with people who were all on the same page.
Our department handled the marketing, communications and sales support. We collaborated and were given the opportunity to invent new ways of doing things. We were very successful. Ultimately, we were purchased by one of the largest global logistics organizations and I found new challenges and opportunities. But I also continued to find myself helping client departments – including HR – and ultimately developing a suite of internal communication and knowledge tools.
Navigating the Matrix
At the same time, an interesting thing happened when we became part of one of the largest companies in the world. I directly experienced a whole lot of inefficiencies and ineffectiveness. I was in a matrix organization. What that really meant is that people like me and those with whom I worked most closely reported to multiple authorities. That’s not too much of problem – unless those multiple authorities had conflicting goals.
Let’s just say that too much energy was put into managing the system and not into the often unclear business objectives.
Eventually I found myself working for myself and with a few close and similarly minded people. I started Ingersoll Interactive to develop websites and online platforms for small businesses, authors, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits. I was much less interested in going after potentially lucrative business from corporations, as I want to work closely with the people who not only cared, they benefited directly from my help.
So now I’m looking for opportunities to apply my years of experience and my natural and developed skills in marketing, communications, and technology to efforts that really matter to me. I am very attracted to nonprofit organizations that exist for the improve of our society. I am very attracted to efforts in education and economic opportunity.
I am the kind of person who can work around the clock on any task – but I really love doing that when it is for something that I know really makes a difference.
If you know of such an opportunity, I’d love to hear from you.