Adios…

Adios…

/ People
Adios…

On August 20, 2011, guitarist, singer, songwriter, actor and television host Glen Campbell released his sixty-first album entitled Ghost on the Canvas. It was intended to be Campbell’s final studio album following his being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Campbell and his producer wanted to record one final studio album of original material while he was still in good enough health.

The lyrics of most of the songs on Ghost on the Canvas deal with the themes of finality and mortality and are quite sentimental. I have owned the CD for many years and have listened to it many times since 2011. The songs and lyrics are some of the most poignant and moving that I’ve ever heard.

The Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour, which began in August 2011, showcased the songs from the Ghost on the Canvas album. The tour lasted through November 2012. I don’t know if the tour gave Campbell a second wind or what, but he ended up going back into the studio after the tour and recording two more albums.

Glen Campbell’s 64th and final album was called Adios. The album featured 11 songs that Campbell had always loved but never recorded. Although it was a struggle for Campbell to record the songs, often having to record the vocals in the studio line-by-line as he couldn’t remember the lyrics, the album was completed and released on June 9, 2017. Glen Campbell passed away two months later, on August 8, 2017.

Seems to me Glen picked a pretty good way to go out. We should all be so lucky: to have one last flourish that will give us the satisfaction of leaving behind some sort of legacy. Maybe that’s what this column will be for me.

I’m not sick or anything. In fact, I’m really healthy and hope I will be for many years to come. That’s why I’ve decided now is the right time to retire. After writing a column in one industry magazine or another since 1993, including writing for Contact Center Pipeline since 2011, this column will be my last.

I began my career as an analyst in 1989, when Ken Landoline, who just recently retired from Ovum himself, hired me as an analyst at Dataquest in San Jose, California. Dataquest was owned by Dun & Bradstreet and represented one of the powerhouses in the heyday of big analyst firms. How I got there, and how I got to where I am now, is a long and winding road.

After high school I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college and ended up in the military instead, which was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. With the help of the G.I. Bill and a 30-hour per week part-time job, I was able to put myself through college and graduated four years after my discharge from the service.

My first job out of college was selling business copiers for Eastman Kodak Company. Although I hated sales, I was glad to have a job since the country was in the middle of a recession. But after three years of hating my job, I knew I needed a change. So I applied to and was accepted at the Leavey Graduate School of Business at Santa Clara University and spent the next 15 months earning my MBA and using up every last penny of my G.I. Bill education benefits.

After grad school I found myself working for GTE in a new division that was offering voicemail, IVR, and call routing services. GTE gave me the background I needed to find my way into what I had always really wanted to do: research. When the opportunity came up at Dataquest two years later, I jumped at it.

I loved my job at Dataquest and gradually moved from covering the voice messaging industry to broader telecommunications, including contact center. But despite outward appearances, the company was a mess. We had five different presidents in the four years I was there. I worked my way up from Industry Analyst to Principal Analyst but was constantly frustrated by what I saw as a lack of company direction and when I was offered a job with a communications media company, I took it.

It only took me a couple of years to realize I missed research and analyst work and found my way back to an industry analyst role in 1996. That’s when one of my former Dataquest co-workers contacted me from his job at In-Stat in Scottsdale, Arizona. In-Stat had just been acquired by Cahners Publishing and was looking to broaden its research focus from exclusively semiconductor industry into growing markets like telecommunications. It was the right fit, so we pulled up stakes and moved the family to Scottsdale.

I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but a couple of years into my In-Stat gig I started to have thoughts about the possibility of self-employment and going out on my own as an analyst.

It was a huge risk. First of all, I was brought up to believe that a job with a salary, benefits, and a pension was the ultimate goal. Although I’m part of the generation that spawned the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, we were mostly taught to value stability more than risk.

Also, I had a mortgage to worry about and a wife and twin eight-year-old girls at home. If anything should have screamed “Don’t do it!” in my brain it was that. But I ignored the angel on my left shoulder and went with the devil on my right. On November 1, 1999, in a very orderly fashion, I founded Saddletree Research.

As I write this, I’m into my 23rd year of self-employment. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been very fulfilling, and I’ve seen unbelievable changes in the contact center industry, and in communications in general since I started with Dataquest 33 years ago. I can’t recall a time when job boredom ever became a factor. The dynamic nature of the contact center industry has kept me constantly challenged, interested, and engaged.

I’ve met every kind of person you can imagine in this industry. While I’m happy to say the good people far outnumber the bad, I’ve run across a lot of ruthless people in influential industry positions that make me wonder how they can look at themselves in the mirror every day.

I’ve witnessed people who are the living embodiment of the Peter Principle (look it up). I’ve watched in disbelief as corporate gunslingers who have the right look or use the right buzzwords climb the corporate ladder. Then, in a testament to their loyalty, they’re gone as fast as they arrived, chasing the next stock option plan and taking their empty, worthless, meaningless, buzzword-laden corporate-speak presentations with them to whatever the next industry might be.

On the other hand, I’ve also met a lot of good, talented, caring and competent people with a real passion for the contact center industry. These are the people I’m proud to be associated with or to have had as Saddletree Research clients.

But now it’s time to leave all that behind and do a little catching up on life outside of work. When I was a boy growing up in suburban Redwood City, California, I dreamt of being a cowboy and riding my horse through the desert. Being self-employed allowed me to be able to pursue that dream, but I still want to be a cowboy when I grow up.

I haven’t had a vacation more than a long weekend since 2011. I honestly don’t remember the last holiday, other than Christmas Day each year, that I’ve taken off since I started working for myself. Remember, being self-employed means never having to say, “Paid vacation days and holidays.”

On the 23rd of this month, my wife and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Business travel kept me on the road for about half of the last 40 years, including many of our anniversaries. No more. This year we’ll be celebrating our anniversary at one of my favorite places in the country - the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We’ve got some catching up to do.

On Christmas Day 2020, our first granddaughter was born to my daughter and her husband in North Carolina. I’ve seen her twice since she was born. Retirement will allow me the freedom to improve on that pitiful record!

All in all, I’ve had a pretty good career and I have no complaints. If I could do it all again, I’d do the same. There’s a certain satisfaction in being able to look back and say that I really did do things my way, as Frank Sinatra famously sang.

But now the time is right for me to saddle up my good horse and ride into the sunset. Thanks for all the memories I’m taking with me.

Adios.

Paul Stockford

Paul Stockford

Paul Stockford served as Chief Analyst at Saddletree Research, which specialized in contact centers & customer service, from 1999-2022.
Twitter: @PaulStockford

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