Looking Back and Looking Forward

Image courtesy iStockphoto

Image courtesy iStockphoto

image courtesy iStockphoto

Last month, as happens every January, was the SAP field kickoff meeting, or FKOM. I wistfully gazed at my Twitter feed, noting who was and who wasn’t at FKOM. You see, in 2008 I attended the last FKOM conducted by an independent BusinessObjects (see related article, Business Objects Partner Summit 2008). It was the first FKOM that combined its sales force and its partner network, which previously had its own, much smaller, partner summit. I’ll never forget former BusinessObjects executive Mark Doll announcing SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.0 with lights and explosions (see related article, BusinessObjects XI 3.0). Under SAP, FKOM is an even bigger deal, with multiple simultaneous events held around the globe.

The other event that happens every January is the flood of LinkedIn updates announcing new career changes. While reading everyone’s cheerful status updates, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your own career is on the road to nowhere. Never mind that your LinkedIn contacts decided in December that their own careers were on the road to nowhere and are secretly crossing their fingers, hoping that their new career adventure corrects some of the undesirable qualities of the last one. It’s easy to forget that we were jealous of our friends’ previous career move- the one that they just tossed into the dustbin of history (don’t worry, a recruiter might be calling you soon to fill the open position).

I mention this because seven years ago, my own career seemed to be on the road to nowhere (see related article, Seven Years Ago Today). What I didn’t mention in that article was that I interviewed for a presales consulting position at BusinessObjects and lost it. The rejection was devastating. At the time, staying in business intelligence consulting was a fallback position. Over the years, I later interviewed with SAP for two other presales positions, also without success.

The trouble with presales (for me) is that most vendors could care less if you understood their product. That skill can be learned. What they’re hoping for is somebody with a track record of sales success selling other technology products. Unfortunately, my skills are reversed. I’ve “majored” in many years of deep SAP BusinessObjects experience but only have a “minor” in presales, helping various consulting organizations sell software, services, and education.

It’s easy to have a pity party reading LinkedIn updates, but most social media users only reveal the shiny, happy bits of their lives. Rarely the dark or disappointing ones. While what is divulged on social media may be accurate and truthful, it’s not a complete picture.

In my case, writing Seven Years Ago Today turned out to be therapeutic, as I’ve spent the past few weeks contemplating who I was seven years ago and who I think I am today. Connecting the dots, as Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford University commencement address.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Steve Jobs
2005 Stanford University commencement address

You see, when I sat in the presales interview chair seven years ago, this blog didn’t even exist (see related article, Welcome to My Blog!). I had only one year of experience as a trainer and only one user conference presentation under my belt. Only later would I be part of the team for SAP’s Education Partner of the Year (see related article, Thrilled to be Part of the Team). My experience would grow from a mere report writer and universe designer to include skills with Xcelsius/Dashboards, Explorer, and administering the SAP BI platform. I’d even help write a book (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide).

Maybe I would have hated presales… Maybe I wouldn’t have been any good at it… Maybe somebody who’s worked mostly in small organizations would feel lost in a large one…

Will I ever work at SAP? I don’t know. I’m currently at about “half time” in my working career, so there’s plenty of time for that.

What about you? Feel like your career is on the fast track to nowhere? All any of us can do is put our best foot forward, one step at a time. I’m grateful that every day I get to work with technology that has the potential to illuminate corporate data and brighten somebody’s day. I’m definitely setting goals for the next seven years.

But in the meantime, I’m setting goals for the next seven days. Happy Monday!

Dallas Marks

Dallas Marks

I am an analytics and cloud architect, author, and trainer. An AWS certified blogger, SAP Mentor Alumni and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting.

3 thoughts on “Looking Back and Looking Forward

  1. Hi Dallas

    You can be more than certain that you are no alone. The ‘To be or Not to be’ career question will always be there, specially in this area of constant change.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers, Carlos

  2. Dallas, as always I like reading your blog. This is a nice retro.

    For me its 13 years running in IT race. I have heard somewhere the sad part of running a rat race is that even after winning the race I will still remain a rat ….. off course, unless I can think really out of the box by which a rat can become a lion 🙂

    Anyway, in last 1 year, there are some resolutions that changed my life for better. Sometimes its really important that we step back, take a deep breath and ask the question “Why?”

    Why I am, what I am today? Am I happy with what I am. Should I be the person, I am today?

    These questions lead me to quit smoking. Yes, not a single puff in last 1 year. Regular exercise and keeping my cool. You see Dallas, I am rather making a philosophical point, (I am sorry if I am diverting from the intent of your post), – in the movie God Father Vito Carlioné says “”Health is the most important thing, more important than fame or money”. So its important that my primary focus is on my health. Second is my family and third is how I can benefit the others around me. What mark I leave behind every living moment? When I focus on these objectives, automatically discipline follows, I become more constructive and a better person. Believe me, I feel that within me.

    As far as our quest for knowledge goes, be it Business Objects or something else – yes its a sweet nectar, a magic potion that delight us and kindle our inspiration. For me its the fuel to keep me moving. But the focus is not on the fuel, my objective is how many lights I can kindle with that fuel of inspiration that will make me a better person everyday.


    1. Aurobindo,

      Great to hear about giving up smoking. I know that it is difficult for many people. Your thoughts are helpful to me- thanks for sharing them.


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