Excerpt from the new book, Insights From a Spaghetti-Slinging Entrepreneur by Anthony Zolezzi.
When the work you’re doing starts to get boring, really feels meaningless or just plain mundane, there is one thing you can do, and that’s to reinvent yourself. In the course of my career the times I engaged in such reinvention were some of the most joyful ones I can remember, with each of my endeavors being fresh and new and something to look forward to.
Once, when we sold a business of which I was co-founder and CEO, I will never forget the emptiness that I initially felt after having divested myself of that business. Even though our management team was well compensated to step aside, it was still like, so what do we do now? Then, in reading The Wall Street Journal, I chanced on a story about the Orange Julius recovery taking place under businessman Richard Goeglein and noticed how he was described as a “Turnaround artist.” Right then, I knew I wanted to become one, too. So, I went to the library and found all the books I could on fixing broken enterprises and read them voraciously. At the time, we were given an office as part of the buyout and I asked our administrator Jennifer to advertise us in the Yellow Pages as “Turnaround artist”S” and to make sure the name in the business complex was the same.
It took a couple months, but one day our phone actually rang. I remember Jennifer coming into my office saying, “there’s a guy named Carl on the phone, you don’t know him, but he wants to talk to you. My buddy Bill Lewis was in my office when the call came in, and we were both cracking up at first because we thought it was one of our friends punking us. But when I picked up the phone, it was Carl Campbell from Bunzle PCL with a bona fide request for our services in rescuing an $800,000,000 company. I couldn’t believe it! I kept smiling and pointing to the phone, with my friend Bill giving me the sign to close the deal, which we did, with our “little team that could” heading up to the company’s Santa Ana headquarters and going to work.
The only thing I will tell you about what followed is that I read a particularly helpful turnaround book every night and followed its guidance to the letter. We ended up selling the company in pieces, which in retrospect wasn’t my best result by any means, but good enough for us to land two more substantial turnarounds (which I have continued to do from time to time). Along the way I have reinvented myself several times – as an organic food expert, a sustainability expert and a health expert, even venturing into biotech (in which I could never really become an expert). But the point is, the joy of reinventing oneself is something I hope at one time in your life you can also experience, giving you the benefit of a fresh start, a new career direction (no matter what your age), and a new way to look at and contribute to the world.
From the new book, Insights from a spaghetti-slinging entrepreneur. Thirty-eight real-life business vignettes from CEO, consultant, environmentalist and author Anthony Zolezzi that will help galvanize your own entrepreneurial spirit and put your endeavors on a rewarding path.