“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