Lessons in Business and Parenting

January 21, 2010

Ben O'Hanlan, VP of Business DevelopmentOnce I heard someone say that the thing that makes parenting both extremely difficult and extremely interesting is that you get the test first and then the lesson. I have found this to be true with my two children, ages 6 and 4. Only after you’ve reflected on a situation do you realize what the lesson was and how you could (or should) have handled it better. Luckily, the kids love you through all of the learning and are much more patient and forgiving than we adults.

At Sealevel, we’re fortunate to have a broad base of supportive customers in a variety of industries. We’re even more fortunate to sell in to several vertical markets that remain fairly immune to the economy. Because of our diverse customer base, we rocked and rolled through 2009 and continued to operate business as usual. Late in the year, a few opportunities shifted and forced us to refocus. Even after nine years at Sealevel, this refocusing involved me in things I had never really paid much attention to. I found great pleasure in the hard work and focus that I have invested in Sealevel — very similar to the pleasure you derive from being a parent.

Some years we were blessed to look at the pipeline and know that we would be able to continue growing as a company, improving our products, and providing the best overall experience for our customers. This year I can look ahead beyond the strong pipeline and know we will be in a better place by year end.

The Good Book teaches us to find pleasure in all our tasks, and if not pleasure, then patience. I have grown more as a person as a result of the adversities of the past year than I have in other more prosperous years. And that is a result of the entire Sealevel organization coming through this recession in a better place than we began. I would have thought differently going into such an uncertain year, but as with parenting, you get the test before the lesson.