“Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end...because in the end, it shows you a whole new world !!
Make an attempt..”
― Manoj Arora, From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom
Comfort zone. Two words that motivational speakers discuss constantly; anyone who has sought to better themselves through personal development has self-reflected on these words too many times to count. I, myself, have always prided myself in my willingness to try new things and go out of my way to push myself out of my comfort zone. As I have gotten older though, the “push” past the comfort zone has changed quite a bit: jumping out of a plane—no problem, parasailing- no problem, public speaking no problem…..talking technology to potential manufacturers---- ufda, jury is still out!
Water and Electricity
I didn’t grow up in a high-tech home, I grew up climbing trees, building forts and going on adventures; we didn’t have cable tv or internet (shocking how we survived, I know). My formal training is in environmental engineering-chemistry. I am an Engineer for the State of South Dakota where I implement Safe Drinking water acts and rules for all South Dakota water systems. Clearly water is my comfort zone! None of this includes electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or manufacturing. Fast-forward to Dog Tag Technologies, being a start-up company, each team member is often asked to roll up their sleeves and ‘jump-in’ where needed, even if the task is completely outside your expertise---Afterall, Dr. Google is always there to help!
So as any adventure seeker who believes they can do anything would do; when the request to find a manufacturer for Guard Dog came in; I rolled up my sleeves and jumped in to the land of technology manufacturing…. it was like being dropped in the middle of the night.. in a foreign land…with no map… lol! I had no idea where to begin, but figured the Small Business Administration (SBA) would be the place to start!
Armed with a prototype schematic, I practically skipped into the SBA thinking I had everything I needed and surely would find all the answers here! Let me stop here and say, the SBA is INCREDIBLE and FULL OF RESOURCES; but they don’t take away the hard work that you must do yourself; they pointed me to a potential manufacturer—secretly inside I thought to myself ‘wow this is so easy, why do people say start-ups are hard, we got exactly who we need on the first try!’ I’ll just give them a call and it’ll be as easy as 1…2….3!
Days later, I reached out to the potential manufacturer, who I was certain would be the exact one capable of manufacturing our product--- I was greeted with a very friendly voice who was easy to chat with. Our conversation was easy as I explained who I was and how I found out about their company, I didn’t stumble on my words and continued to think, boy I have this down…until I was asked for a Gerber File and Bill of Materials…..ummmm,…I thought to myself “what the heck are those???!!!”….my confidence started fading fast, I had just been catapulted out of my comfort zone. I had expected just to hand over our schematic and the manufacturer take it from there---I didn’t realize I would have to answer technical questions!! ….I started internally panicking and whipped out my laptop and frantically asked Dr. Google--"what are Gerber Files…where do I get a bill of materials….Come on Dr. Google, Don’t let me down now!” as I stalled…while frantically searching…. I wasn’t able to understand what Dr. Google was telling me while trying to portray that I was knowledgeable to the nice manufacturing man…my ‘knowledgeable caller’ cover was quickly blown…and I began to feel severely inadequate.
With my cover blown, I decided I just needed to tell the manufacturer, I have no idea what I am doing! I took a deep breath and said to the nice man, “In an effort to be fully transparent; I am not an expert in this field, I’m a water person…can you help me understand what you need from me to move forward” I held my breath waiting for his response; and to my amazement he said, “ oh, of course. No problem…” He then went on to explain Gerber Files and Bill of Materials and I was deeply thankful. His patience and generosity in explaining the details was not lost on me. After hanging up the call, I quickly downloaded a template for creating a Bill of Material and reached out to our Chief Technology Officer to discuss Gerber Files…and most importantly, realized I didn’t die from being catapulted out of my comfort zone, rather was greeted with kindness and generosity! After further discussions, this particular manufacturer ended up not being able to meet the needs of our company, initially I was a bit bummed as having to go back to the drawing board can be pretty daunting when it comes to manufacturing.
Hunting For Perfect
As I continue to embark on the quest to find the perfect manufacturer for our product, I am gaining more confidence everyday through the generosity of others sharing their knowledge with me! I’ve now had multiple discussions with manufacturers and amaze myself with the “techie” lingo I now understand!
Lo and behold, the hunt for a manufacturer turned very promising last week as the universe worked in our favor – after researching endlessly I was able to find another potential manufacturer who could help us with end to end manufacturing –incredibly exciting! The introductory phone call for this manufacturer went much differently than my very first call; no sweaty palms, no panick--- strangely enough--- I felt good being OUTSIDE my comfort zone rather than feeling catapulted out of it, this time—I chose to take the step outside of it and dive into the technical manufacturing discussion! Our discussion went so well that we set up a team call for this week!
While I am still working hard to learn as much as possible, all the ‘technical manufacturing things I know now, I would not have known had I not rolled up my sleeves and jumped in …. So as Manoj Arora wisely stated, “…Make an attempt..”
What can you do to get out of your comfort zone TODAY?
Chief Operating Officer
This past weekend the team got together for their first official team summit!
American Legion Post 535 Unionville
The team kicked off the weekend by attending an American Legion Post 535 meeting to share a short film about our product and get both feedback about our product and viable price points from attendees. We received several questions and very positive feedback on our product and the price point we are considering.
BB&T Corporate Cup 5K
VERY VERY early Saturday morning our team gathered in Uptown Charlotte to participate in the BB&T Corporate 5K. Though none of us where speed demons Dana and I passed the time chatting about kids, life and of course the exciting future of Dog Tag Technologies. While the slower 2 members had a great chat about how Tj built the proof of concept and what Erin will need to ask manufacturers. Following the walk the team had a celebratory beer. We decided with no uncertain terms any 5k put together by us would not start until at least 10am and would offer bacon and beer stations along the route. As if "The Bacon & Beer 5K" wouldn't raise millions!!
The team reconvened at Dana's house and over many many cups of coffee discussed business strategy, manufacturing and marketing while being fully entertained by one of Dana's crazy kitties. TJ and I shared a video spoof on the Guard Dog. See the video below.
Dog Tag Scout Team
Saturday night was spent with the Dog Tag Scout Team and over wine and appetizers we gave away some DogTag swag and officially shared our short film and our proof of concept. We received a lot of questions and positive feedback from the Scout Team. I also think they really liked the "Diet Buddy"!
Sunday Fun Day
Originally our team planned to have headshots taken but in a shocking turn of events it rained....again! So we cancelled the shoot and headed the Terrace Café for brunch. Erin flew back to the frozen tundra and the team spent the rest of the day working on "To Do's" identified during the summit.
Take Away's from the Summit
Chief Marketing Officer