This article was recently published at The Rabbit Room.
It was explained to me early in my career: 100 leads, 10 calls, 1 sale. It is known as The Sales Funnel. Imagine an inverted triangle, with curious tire-kickers spilling out the top, followed by significantly fewer “qualified prospects” in the middle (most having absconded after discovering the price), and finally a few brave “clients” trickling out the bottom. “It’s a numbers game,” I was told. The more leads that were dumped into the top of the funnel, the more sales fell out of the bottom. One astute observer explains it this way: “Marketing is a multifaceted discipline that has one objective: to separate people from their money.” I wholeheartedly adopted the approach when I started my own software firm. After all, who was I to argue with success?
It was the height of the Dot-Com Boom, and I got in line to collect my Dot-Com Millions—a seeming birthright to CompSci graduates of the late-90s. It wasn’t long before my dreams were dashed by the Dot-Com Collapse, to be followed again by the Great Recession. The axiomatic business truths I had embraced were not generating the kind of results I had hoped for. Nor was the solitary, overly-specialized environment of computer programming bringing the sort of fulfillment and connectedness I increasingly desired with my growing family.
So I moved my family from the city to the country in hopes of finding another way forward. Weary (and wary) of the technology industry’s addiction to obsolescence, I began to research more durable ways to work. Historically, professions lasted hundreds of years and were passed down in the same family from one generation to the next. Today, the average worker will change careers every five years. Was it possible, in our day, for families to work together and build something that would last?