December 06, 2016 – Colleen Niese –

5 Lessons In 5 Years

This time five years ago, my business partner Vicki Pero and I were about to open the doors to the Marlyn Group, having spent the better part of the year preparing to go on our own and quite convinced we had most of it figured out.  As anyone who has established his/her own company knows, it’s humbling to learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know!

Two company names, three logos and two office moves later, we celebrate our first five years of pretty darn good success, look forward to the next five, and like to think we’re a bit wiser with the top five lessons we’ve learned since 2011.  I guess we’ll find out in 2021 what the next set of lessons await us!

Never have we worked harder for our passion. 

We like to think we worked hard in the corporate environment.  Ha!  Child’s play compared to starting up our own company between the two of us.  When we conduct talent assessments, we like to understand the balance between “doing” and “thinking” for any given position.  Starting MGLLC, we were 100% the thinker and the doer on any given task, no matter how big or small.  And honestly, we didn’t mind one bit – this company is a reflection of our passion so the effort was and continues to be second nature.

You’re it. 

What we quickly realized is while there may not be other resources during a startup to help complete the administrative annoying stuff, the responsibility for landing, developing and delivering projects is brought into a whole new light.  Whatever the deliverable, it’s just the two of us from start to finish – which is super rewarding, at times a bit scary, but all the while never the same day twice.

Never lose sight of the fun.

One of the first financial investments we made as a company was to send ourselves to the NPA’s Winter Leadership Forum in Maui.  Our Accountant thought we were crazy and was a wee bit leery as to what we were up to.  Little did she know, we had a very set mission to land new business in those five days and we did, bringing back with us three new projects.  That trip symbolizes for us to this day how we make our profit is as important as the profit itself.

The power of volunteerism. 

We’ve really put to the test the six degrees of separation theory in earning new business, which with consulting is typically driven largely through referrals.  We have proven for ourselves time and time again, between being highly involved in four different national associations, with volunteerism comes networking and with networking comes opportunities.  Vicki and I are definitely two people who like to be involved with serving a greater good and continue to be amazed how much we receive through giving, both intrinsically and financially.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We are reminded on a fairly frequent basis how lucky we are to work with truly great people.  We are so appreciative that most of our projects translate into these mutually beneficial situations where we play a meaningful role in any given organization’s progress while in turn learn something new about business, relationships and the never ending ways to success.