Week 8 - Pursuing Opportunities and Persisting Through Challenges (Kelly Wingham's Story)
Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian: (singing) Hello. I'm Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian host of the Badass Women's Council Podcast. Super glad that you're here. Hey, life is long. Now, think about that for a minute, because too often we hear the phrase, life is short, do it now. Don't wait. And usually that's the sentiment after maybe something bad has happened, someone's lost someone or suffered a tragedy, but isn't the proper term, life is fragile? In that situation, but for most of us, life is long. We have years to discover, explore, and be curious. But if we've bought into that life is short sentiment then we put this pressure on ourselves that we have to have things all figured out and figured out fast. Worse yet, we've bought into a belief that we should know our career at an age when we're more concerned about a prom date and an acne treatment, we don't even know ourselves yet. How in the Sam hell are we supposed to know our career? Well, life is long. We should explore. Be curious. Be curious about your interests, your ideas, your dreams. So if you're on your way to work today, which means probably walking from your kitchen to your office, and you know that this isn't the career you're supposed to be in, message me. If you feel like you missed your chance at doing the thing you love, message me. If you have no idea what you're supposed to be doing, but you desperately want to find out, message me. I can help you discover you. Because when we gain deep levels of self- awareness, it gives us the ability to have empathy for others. And we're meant to live in community. We're meant to do work that matters. And when a business is built and a career is built with our primary intent to serve others in a meaningful way that we're uniquely gifted to do, well, then we've set ourselves up for success. We're humans here to live in community and serve each other. And business is a perfect way to live out our need to be connected. If we can get it right. Today, our final speaker in the Stand Tall in Your Stories series is Kelly Wingham. Kelly's a fourth generation entrepreneur. And in her story, she shares the winding road of her career and her entrepreneurial endeavors. She's a prime example of following your curiosity, trying some things, learning, learning some more, trying some more. And when the struggle hits, don't quit or maybe do quit and try something else. There's no template for how to do life and career. It's personal, emotional, and social. It's a journey as a human we need to discover for ourself. You're not too late. You're not too young. If you have a passion and an interest, follow that curiosity. Right now, I'm working with a young professional that's hired me to coach her to launch a nonprofit from an idea that she has had for many years. She's ready to serve a community that she's passionate about. And she has an amazing idea. She's barely out of college and she's ready to make big moves. She's investing in herself. She's investing in this. I'm working with a business owner that spent 30 years working a career she doesn't love. She barely likes it. And she's ready to make the transition and work on a project that was born out of a deep struggle and immense pain in her life. But this project will help so many people and she's ready to make a difference. Our life is long. Our journey and our experiences are here to guide us and teach us. The question is, are we courageous enough to listen, learn and explore? Let Kelly's story inspire you. Here we go. Would you give a warm welcome for Kelly Wingham?
Kelly Wingham: Hello. Test. Here we are. As she said, my name is Kelly and I'm an entrepreneur and they have the quietly crazy entrepreneur come last and then tell me that they actually running ahead of schedule. So I don't know if that was permission to continue talking a little bit longer, but I know that I'm here to encourage somebody that needs to keep going. Because this is not my jam. I'm doing it for me, but I'm doing it for those of you that need to be encouraged. So I didn't always refer to myself as an entrepreneur until a few years ago. And then I realized I have this natural gift. I always had it. I just never really identified what it was, to recognize possibilities and to easily visualize the outcome. Didn't always know the parts in between, those would follow. And I just recognize it was hard wired, it was in my DNA. Thank you, Dad. So my path along the way was not traditional. My experiences were actually my unconventional education, my foundation and preparation for where I stand today. Today, I own Data Activation Center and we are known as the leading provider for cellular data for users of Precision Agriculture in the United States. This is how I got there though. That's my mom. I'm going to be 55. I call it level 55. So it's hard to put my experiences into seven minutes. So I'm just going to tell you. I'm going to run a little bit over, sorry, Alex. But at age 20, I started a line of children's clothing in Beaumont, Texas, and then a year or two later, I was in living in the LA area and started picture pageants. And then a few years forward, I was in Bloomington, Indiana and started a contract packaging company. And I'm not done. I've just started, but life changed. My marital status changed and I became a single parent. The sole provider with no safety net. So I had to kind of change lanes and take a more stable career approach to provide. So I did, but I'm hard wired a certain way. I kept seeing possibilities opportunities and easily, easily, my daughter who works for me now is over there, videotaping me, and still recognizing where to, how to get it there. I also opened up a candle factory, Gourmet on the Go. I launched a delivery service. None of my businesses were ever remotely tied together. They were all separate individual experiences. Am I speaking to somebody? But 10 years ago when I was working over here in this path for a major wireless carrier here in the United States, I recognized an opportunity, an underserved market in the ag industry and nobody was serving them. So I brought it to the carrier's attention and actually nobody wanted to serve them. But I did. Because I recognize the possibility, the opportunity. And I saw the outcome. And this time I was equipped because of all my other experiences to start and finish most of the way. So this year we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary. But, we almost didn't make it. So let's rewind. Four years, a little more than four years ago, November, 2015. I'm sitting in my living room in Clearwater and I have sticky notes all over my living room, Excel documents, I'm planning a new business model because the current business model was broke. We were 100% reliant on the wireless carriers to pay us a commission. That was our source of revenue. But year over year, our customers kept increasing. We were thriving. We were in manufacturers' user guides and their tech support teams called us. They rolled us out to their dealer network in the United States. We were a very important piece of their process for the connectivity of their modems, but we weren't making any money. In fact, the carriers decide to stop paying us for our type of activity, but it wasn't just us. It was everyone across the United States that did this piece of activity. So while I'm in my living room, figuring out this new business model, and I knew what it was, I needed a wholesale subscription model. That was the ticket, but I didn't qualify to get the wholesale agreement from the carrier because I wasn't inventorying equipment, nor did I want to, because why would I want to sell modems that competed directly with the manufacturers that were our boots on the ground, they were our sales force. They were sending all their customers to us. So I refused to do that. So I'm still stuck without a solution. The train is getting ready to rock. I mean, I see it, it's happening, but there's still a little bit of time left. I can maybe stop it. In the meantime, I take a full time job, hire a part time person to answer phones and voicemails. Dak couldn't afford me. So I had to do that when I wasn't working a full time job coming home and taking care of Dak. I was in my garage, flipping furniture, buying, painting, restoring, selling, painting, restoring selling over and over. And when that wasn't enough... I was in my closet, digging through my old purses, looking for change, preferably bills or my junk drawer, and my car. I mean, I was all in. So I'm taking it back to my living room or I was planning the business model and I get a phone call and it's from a customer that I knew and I recognized, and he was a referring customer over the years." Hey, Kel, I'm calling to thank you for introducing me to these key players at Verizon." I didn't say wireless carrier. He had a new patented product, a new modem, and they helped him get it certified on their network. With that, came this new structured, an account with new rate plans. And he called me just to thank me for the introduction, but to also say," Hey, would you consider a one off for me? Would you consider managing this piece of my business for me?" I mean, I'm listening because it sounded like income to me but we continued talking, and you guys, he had the very wholesale agreement that I needed to stop the train wreck. So is my slide up there? You can switch to my slide because there's a purpose. Within just two days, it was actually two days. He called me and said," I want in," he saw the opportunity because I laid everything out. I didn't... I was very transparent. Told him where we were, where we needed to be. He wanted in. I had never met this customer. I just talked to him over the years. We'd never shook hands. We had never met face to face, but within two weeks he deposited a large amount of money in my account. So of course my messages just keep going because you don't know where your solution, your answer is going to come from. But if that's not good enough for you inspiring enough for you, right before he did that, he called me and said, "Kelly, we need to have a conversation. There's something about me. You don't know." So he began to share his faith and his values and his religion with me, I think Amish, if you want. And he said, "Because we're not of the same faith, I cannot enter into a legal binding contract with you. I'm doing this all on your word. That you'll pay me back in two years," he never met me. So I paid him back in two years, I paid him early. We did eventually meet. But had I not kept going, had I quit when the carriers decided to stop issuing me commission, a source of revenue, I think most people would have tapped out. I'm sure you guys probably would have hoped I tapped out, Mom and Dad, but I just kept going. And now in closing, just four years after I was digging through my purses for change, yeah, we are growing year over year 35%. So it's slow and steady. This year we're expected to... This year we are expected to close with 2 million in revenue, just this year. That's strong. We're able to offer seven employees, employer sponsored insurance on day one, a matching 401k and we are a female owned and operated business, hold it, hold it, in a male dominated tech space. I don't know who you are, but I hope you're encouraged to just keep going. Thank you very much.
Rebecca Fleetwood Hessian: Kelly is tenacious. She's a badass. She's a beautiful human being. What I love about the rest of the story is after the Rise and Thrive experience and the Stand Tall in Your story event in March, Kelly really used this community of other women around her to see herself and her life more clearly once again and realize that she had accomplished many things in business and now she really wanted to open her heart up to other areas of her life. And when she did that, she met the love of her life. And she's since gotten married. So you never know where a strong badass community of women is going to lead you. Thank you for being a part of our Stand Tall in Your Story series. I'll have a followup episode next week where we'll wrap some things up and thank so many of the companies and the people that came together to make this an amazing event. If these stories have inspired you and you're feeling like, man, I could use an experience like that. Well, you're in luck because we have another group starting in late October and we would love to chat with you about that. You can message me at rebecca @ wethrive. live and we can schedule some time to talk. Or go to standtallinyourstory. live and there's a button called Business is Human that you can hit to gather some more information and fill out a little bit of a questionnaire to see if this is the right experience for you. I hope it is. I hope you're ready to stand tall in your story. Thanks so much. Make it a great day.( singing)
Our life is long. Our journey and our experiences are here to guide us and teach us. We have to have the courage to listen, learn and explore. We should be curious about our interests, ideas, and dreams. We should take time to discover ourselves because there is no template for how to do our life and out career. When we gain deep levels of self-awareness, it gives us the ability to have empathy for others and serve our community. And when we use our gifts to serve others in a meaningful way, then we've set ourselves up for success.
In this week’s episode, we will listen to our final speaker Kelly Wingham — Founder and President of Data Activation Center, Inc. — as she tells us the story of how she pursued new opportunities and turned her company into a success. In her talk, Kelly talks about her many different experiences and the struggles she has faced over the years. She shares unconventional path to where she is now, and how she kept going even when things got difficult. Throughout her life, Kelly has been able to see recognize possibilities and to easily visualize the outcome. Over the years, she explore many new opportunities and business ideas. About 10 years ago, she discovered an underserved market and recognized its potential. However, along the way, her company hit some major roadblocks and she was forced to change the business model. At one point, things were so tough that Kelly was digging through her old purses looking for change. One day, she received a call from a referring customer who proposed the solution she needed. Without a legal agreement or a meeting in person, a large sum of money was deposited in Kelly’s account, and she started to grow her company again. This year her company — a female-owned and operated business — is expected to close with $2 million in revenue.
Listen in to learn more about how Kelly had the courage to pursue new opportunities, and how she persisted through all the challenges her company faced.
And tune in next week to hear an episode wrapping up the Stand Tall In Your Story series and thanking the companies and people that came together to make this an amazing event.
This year, Rebecca has built a similar experience called, “Business is Human,” which is open to both men and women. Right now, she is looking for 4-5 men and 4-5 women join the group for a 9-month experience in Indianapolis. If you are interested in that opportunity, go to standtallinyourstory.live and tell Rebecca a little bit about yourself.
To check out the Stand Tall in Your Story 8-week series, go to standtallinyourstory.live