Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

OK. I have to start with an apology. It’s been so busy here that I haven’t had the chance to blog for a week or two.

Sorry about that.

I could make up lots of excuses. Like I’d taken up skydiving as a hobby. Or been on an expedition to the Arctic Circle. Or taken the Olympic Torch on a space walk.

Unfortunately, the truth is not as adventuresome. Along with the rest of the Phantom Screens team we’ve spent the last couple of weeks working hard and getting ready for our Annual Distributor Conference.

This year our conference, in Las Vegas, NV, is a chance for our distributors across North America (and the world) to get together. It’s theme is: “Together Towards Tomorrow” and we’ll be sharing our plans for 2014 as well as sharing information, ideas and inspiration!

Since we’re talking about inspiration, one of my jobs at the conference is to give the opening “State of the Union” address. It’s my chance to talk about where we are and where we want to be as a company. And a bit like the US President, I’m fortunate to work with a speechwriter too. So when I sat down with him to begin the process of writing the speech, inspiration came from a surprising place.

You see, when I was visiting our UK distributor, I had the great good fortune of visiting Burghley House in Stamford, which is an enormous, stately pile of a home. Think Downton Abbey and add on a few more towers and turrets.

While I was there, I picked up an acorn from under a huge old oak tree. It was there that I got my idea. I wanted to talk to our distributors about our potential to grow as a company. And also our potential to grow as people.

As a CEO, I spend a lot of my time thinking about the future and thinking about what I want for our company. It’s not all head-in-the-clouds stuff, it’s about navigating a path to reach our goals. But every now and again I like to stop for a minute and think about the bigger picture and loftier ideas.

Anyways, I digress. While I was England I picked up this acorn and it got me thinking about how just the littlest things can have a big impact. It got me thinking about potential. Not just for our company but for ourselves. There is so much change and volatility in the world at the moment that it can all seem quite daunting.

But you know what? We don’t have to change it all at once. It’s like that old saying about the longest journey starting with a single step.

21 years ago when Phantom Screens was founded, we weren’t thinking about selling millions of screens – heck, we were just wondering how we could sell another 50. But look at us now. We are realizing our potential.

So, let me share this little extract of my address with you. Not because I think you’ll be fascinated by the wonderful world of retractable screens, but because it sums up how I feel and my hope for our company. And if I’m being totally honest, my hope for everyone – because we all have so much to offer.

“You may have noticed that I put a small object on the lectern when I started speaking this morning. It’s actually an acorn I picked from a tree on the grounds of Burghley House in the UK.

I picked it for keeps – to inspire me. It’s such a tiny thing.

But just think: this acorn, measuring a mere inch in length, could grow into a mighty 100-foot tall oak tree that will live for hundreds of years.

How about that for an amazing symbol of hope and potential?

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. What is your big dream? How do you overcome obstacles to reach your goals? What inspires you? I’d love to know your thoughts!