I like to wander.  The summers of my youth were spent exploring the country in a Volkswagen camper bus with my parents and brother. Twice we made the full loop from Washington State to Pennsylvania then Florida and back through Texas, Colorado and Utah in a quest to visit all our relatives; overdosing on state capitals, national parks, museums, battlefields and historic homes along the way.  On one trip, we learned the words to Sound of Music, Camelot, Annie and a few other Broadway musicals that my mother had recorded on cassettes from her original records.  Another summer, I managed to memorize all the Trivial Pursuit cards in the six weeks we were on the road.  We always had planned destinations for each leg of the trip, but often the day to day to getting there was a bit uncertain.  Hollister rules outlined that you could never backtrack or go the same way twice.  We therefore spent a lot of time on winding country roads and discovered many things you can’t imagine from the freeway.

As I grew up, the straight-line trajectory of my life seemed pretty laid out; go to college, get a job, get married, a family, house, dog, cat etc.  Life doesn’t always go as planned.  My management and marketing degrees got shelved in favor of a philosophy degree early.  And the grand plan of becoming a Wall Street executive dissolved as I learned more and decided it wasn’t for me.  The food industry was familiar, both my dad and uncle had run grocery stores and I had worked in restaurants throughout college.  My first job as a Buyers Assistant at United Grocers was to start ten years in buying positions at large supermarket chains.  This was followed by an MBA and seventeen years of consulting, sales and sales management; none of which I could have predicted.

My team and I have worked with variety of entrepreneurs and established companies developing new brands, products and markets.  I have crisscrossed the country to work with broker teams, introduce brands and build relationships with distributors and retailers.  I have had my share of successes and some notable failures.  I am still learning how to be better at both.  Looking back, two of the most prominent threads to my journey have been education and curiosity.  Perhaps this is not surprising given both my parents are retired teachers.  As a buyer, I wanted to know everything about my categories and products.  As a seller, I am most effective when I know my brands and categories exceptionally well.

But product and industry knowledge only takes us so far; especially in a quickly evolving landscape driven by technology.  We have to be constantly learning and pushing ourselves beyond what is comfortable.  I suspect these new adventures will involve some wandering and more than a few back roads.  I look forward to your company along the way.