Back in 1998 my call center company, Appletree Answers, was an absolute disaster. Started in 1995 it was only 3 years old at the time, but I was struggling to make payroll, was living on a twin bed at the office, and sleep deprived at a level I can’t even fathom today.  The struggle was REAL!

I was struggling to get customers and grow, while trying to also run the business, and actually working as a call center rep. (We were open 24/7 and I couldn’t afford staff at night, overnight and weekends.) I had a giant buzzer next to the bed so when the phone rang at night it would wake me up and I could answer it… our upstairs residential neighbors LOVED THAT IDEA (said no one ever)!

See a picture of my first office/apartment above..

In my desperation to grow I scraped together $2500 and hired a “marketing company”. I went to their offices and met with the owner of the company and his young college intern, and in a 4 hour “discovery session” I told them everything I knew about my business, my industry, and my customers. About 3 weeks later I received a report from them… beautifully produced and type set, with full color in a presentation binder… that essentially just repeated everything I said in the consultation.

It was USELESS! A complete waste of $2500 I didn’t have in the first place.


During the meeting where they presented the document to me, the owner of the firm made an off-handed remark that he was working with a local coffee shop chain and had recommended The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber to the owner of the coffee shops and she was really enjoying it.

In hindsight, today, knowing what I know now that one throw-away line was worth hundreds of thousands, actually millions of dollars.

I was an avid learner and reader, back then just like I am now, and I bought the book (in a brick and mortar book store if any of you remember what those are) and obsessed over every page. I swore the book was written for me. I couldn’t get enough. I finished and read it again, and again. I have probably read it now 30+ times and get new ideas every time. It was the most important book I had ever read at the time.

Some of the really important key messages:

#1  Your business is not you. Think about it as its own being, a living breathing entity that needs to be nurtured separate from you so that one day you can sell it, without you.

#2  Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you are good at owning a business that does that something, and in fact it can be your downfall.

#3  There HAS to be a “this is how we do it here” mindset even in the smallest companies (mine was very small when I read it the first time).

#4  The “consistency” of the customer experience matters as much or more as the “remark-ability” of the experience. In fact, the worst thing you can do is create an amazing experience only to not deliver it again the next time, consistently.

I feel that for a budding, new entrepreneur it is the most important book ever written (with Scaling Up being the most important for a growth company entrepreneur).

So thank you Michael Gerber, thank you for as you say, “pulling the curtain” back and showing me a new way. And giving me the tools, and ideas, and foundations, for being able to do that for others. THANK YOU!!!


Founder of the align5 Companies,  CEO of Scaling Up Coaches, and Serial Entrepreneur

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