10 Years’ Worth of Thanks

It was a little over 10 years ago that I bootstrapped Vizion Interactive. When I say “bootstrapped”, I mean I funded this effort with plenty of sweat equity (no salary for over a year), but I certainly had PLENTY of help along the way.

Today, I have the opportunity to share thanks to many people who have helped me “live the American dream”.
Let me start by expressing my deepest thanks to my life partner, Cheri, who held firm belief that “everything would be okay” and reaffirmed in me her trust and helped me believe in myself, when I had my moments of self-doubt. I had just “left” a previous venture (if you care for more details on this, it will cost you at least two beverages, of the adult variety); had no income; two car payments; a mortgage and a 9 month old child. Somehow, Cheri hung in there. Not only did she hang in there, she lifted me up – often – so that I kept the faith that, indeed, “everything would be okay”.

Let there be no doubt, though…this is not just a story about “me”. My father-in-law supported me with a small loan (I paid him back earlier than scheduled, with interest), but – other than that – the capital needed to run the business was gonna need to come from someplace else.  There were days when I had absolutely no energy to pursue this. I felt jilted from my previous venture. Truth told, I was medicated for panic attacks (that’s not something that was easy for me to type, just now). It was a bad time in my life. But, “God has a plan”, right?

My parents instilled my faith in me. As they had said throughout my entire life, they said “Mark, you can do anything that you set your mind to”. And, they sent me a reminder, to keep on my desk:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a and a future”. – Jeremiah 29.11

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My father passed away five years ago, but I want to thank him SO MUCH for teaching me everything that I know about business development, relationship building, music (taught me to play the drums), and being a man. For those fortunate enough to know my mom, she is the most patient Godly woman that you’ve ever met (you cannot deny it).

I wish that I could say that I learned patience from my mom…unfortunately, that trait didn’t get passed to this kid. But, her patience with me certainly got me through some challenging times. Thanks mom!
Yes, I was raised deep in faith. It was my faith that carried me through the hardships. Yet, faith was only going to be enough to empower me to do what I knew that I needed to do. I had to build up a company to sustain my family. As any business owner will tell you, you are nothing without your customers and your employees.

My first client was a small operation, headquartered locally in Irving, Texas…A-1 Servo Motor Repair. It’s a relationship that I am very glad to say that I am still able to cherish, today (they’ve remained a client of Vizion Interactive’s since the very beginning).

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Thank you, Jim Desmet (left image), for having faith in me. It wasn’t until I was able to land a “big fish” that I was finally able to begin to pay myself. After a golf outing (thank you Scott Talbott / Rob Zimbleman), I was able to get a meeting to introduce Vizion Interactive to Lennox Industries.

Thank you, Allen Evans (right image), for having faith in me. This meeting turned into a now nine year relationship that we have had with Lennox. In the years since, we have been fortunate enough to work with many terrific companies, and I sincerely want to thank each and every one of them for affording me the opportunity to “live the dream”. I hope that I have fulfilled my promise to work with integrity and deliver upon your expectations for the engagements.

But, as I alluded to previously, Vizion Interactive’s success was born not simply by “selling a lot of business”. No. In fact, I am very proud to say that we have been selective in who we elect to work with. Our success is realized on the sweat and effort of each employee that has ever worked at Vizion Interactive, and the unique knowledge that they’ve imparted, along the way.

As with many agencies, “turnover happens”. There are people who are no longer working at Vizion Interactive that I still consider friends (and I hope that they do, as well). Many of these people brought unique knowledge and skills that made me better at what it is that I do. I want to thank them for their efforts, again.

Today, I am lifted up by a team of gifted, passionate, humble and hardworking folks. After 10 years of doing this, I can honestly say that I really ENJOY going to work, every day! You make that a reality for me, and I am so grateful to each of you for all that you do!

I’m often asked, “Mark…what’s your plan for the company…you know…your exit strategy”?
The truth is, I don’t give this a lot of thought (though I probably should; I simply haven’t). I am really enjoying what I’m doing. I’m enjoying working with our clients and my fellow team members, every stinkin’ day.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this journey with me! Here’s to another 10 years!