Today’s blog is linked to the Podcast “Exponential Organisations” and is the script I used for episode 25 – “Lance Peppler – founder of Idea Storm”. I hope you enjoy it.
Welcome to 2020. I hope this is going to be a fantastic year for you in all areas of your life from work through to family.
As this is the first podcast of the year, and number 25 in total, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself, the host of the podcast, as well as my company Idea Storm and my plans for the podcast for this year.
The early years and working at Oracle
I have been involved in the IT industry for about 30 years. I started out as a computer programmer and have then very fortunate to move across to sales acting in a pre-sales role.
I am a performer at heart being a musical and involved in amateur theatre productions. I have loved the presenting aspects of showing software to prospects because this is also a performance.
In 2006 I started working at Oracle as a pre-sales consultant and have basically done the same thing ever since. I work in the Customer Experience area of Oracle and love working in the marketing, sales and service space. A highlight for me was when I went to London and attended a Customer Journey Mapping course and I have subsequently run Journey Mapping workshops with leading Communications and Financial Services Organisations. I have been quite successful in my role and have been involved in multi-million Dollar deals as well as winning multiple awards over the years. I have also enjoyed the technical nature of the pre-sales role and working with different industries and types of sales opportunities has always been stimulating.
There has been a major problem during my time at Oracle though. Oracle has a policy of not giving salary increases – even when promoted. This would be tolerable in low inflation countries but unfortunately South Africa has had an inflation rate of over 7% for as long as I can remember. I recognised quite early on at Oracle that this wasn’t going to change and that I would need to move to ever hope of earning more money and to adequately provide for my family.
I guess the good parts of this situation is that it has forced me to constantly look for new opportunities, that have generally involved a lot of learning and certification, and has also developed perseverance and tenacity.
Applying for positions in the traditional way
When I first started to look for an alternative to Oracle I would apply for positions within my industry and expertise, study the company and their products and would then generally have a good interview. I would convince myself that this position was going to be the one, get excited and then be devastated when it didn’t happen. I am sure you have been in the same situation as this.
Design Thinking and starting to develop my own network and brand
After a while I realised that this approach wasn’t going to work for me and so I started to see if there was something I could learn and move into that was in demand. I also really wanted to help companies and started to investigate how I could be hands-on in assisting companies to be successful. This is when I encountered Design Thinking and saw the similarities of this with the Customer Journey workshops that I had successfully facilitated. I threw myself into this and did a course through Darden Business School – Jeanne Liedtka – and also did several courses learning the IDEO Design Thinking process.
It is an interesting transition to be moving from applying to permanent roles to starting to build my own brand and make things happen for myself. As an introvert I was surprised that I enjoyed the process of meeting people involved in the Design Thinking world and approaching people at companies to see if there was a role for me there. I still had a permanent position in mind but wasn’t just waiting for a role to become available and then applying for it. I was still applying for positions though, going for the occasional interview and still getting disappointed when they weren’t successful.
It was at this time I started blogging and have now written hundreds of blogs over the years. My blogging started on Linkedin and I remember being very excited when people actually responded and read the article I wrote on Uber.
At this stage I was in my mid-forties and I started to realise that I would need to form and run my own company. The thing is that I still today don’t want to manage people and have no aspirations of starting and growing a large company. I was pushing Design Thinking as hard as I could but encountered a problem that even though I had the salary increase problem at Oracle I was still earning much more than I would if I started again at the bottom doing Design Thinking. I was also competing against people right out of university that were prepared to work long hours and not earn an entry-level salary.
So the essential question became a reality for me – “Why would a company use me?”.
I reluctantly had to admit that Design Thinking wasn’t going to work for me.
Idea Management and the birth of Idea Storm
It was at this stage that I happened to read about Idea Management. I started to get excited again. Ideas were essential for companies to launch new products and services as well as improve current processes. The great thing is there were companies around the world that provided Idea Management solutions to large organisations and they all provided a partner offering.
Working at Oracle I had always been involved in the partner community and the option of selling software was very appealing to me because its something I had always done at Oracle.
I found a UK based company that sold Idea Management solutions and they were very welcoming to me as a potential partner.
It was at this stage that Idea Storm was born as I needed a company and website in order to be a partner of this company. My wife actually came up with the idea while driving in the car and I have been very happy with the name ever since. Now I had to create a website and started on the process of learning how to create an attractive site that would appeal to visitors. I was now really getting into creating my own company and had put together a marketing strategy. How would I get introduced to important people at large companies? I came up with the idea of interviewing people and was surprised to find that people were open to doing this. I have subsequently written a book that is available on Amazon called “An introduction to Idea Management” that contains these interviews.
I threw myself into this new direction and started to build a good pipeline of opportunities. I now encountered two challenges. The first was that I was still working for Oracle. The idea was that I would sell a couple of Idea Management solutions and then assist them with the implementation while still working at Oracle as a side-hassle. I would then transition from Oracle to Idea Storm as a going concern. This all worked perfectly in my mind. The main problem, of course, is that my Idea Storm meeting all took place during the day when I also worked for Oracle. It was uncanny that moments after I set up an Idea Storm meeting that I would have an Oracle meeting come through for the same time. Tricky!
The other challenge is that I was a bit late to market. It seemed that most of the large companies already had an idea management solution and the ones that didn’t were happy to use spreadsheets.
So disappointment again!
The Exponential World and OpenExO
There have been other initiates as well including a year-long interest in Amazon Web Services that involved me gaining the entry certification.
It was around July last year that I encountered the concept of the Exponential world. It started with a meeting with a global ambassador of OpenExO when I heard him talk at an event. I said that it sounded like again I was a bit late to the party but he encouraged me to investigate it. I signed up for OpenExO and did their Foundations Certification and again started to meet as many people as I could. I am constantly amazed by how generous people are with their time with a general willingness to help.
By now I have learned that when an opportunity presents itself to throw myself in with all my ability and to see where it takes me.
I have absolutely loved being involved in the OpenExO community. I threw myself into redesigning my website and Idea Storm now became an Exponential Growth consultancy. I have always enjoyed podcasts and find them a fantastic source of learning. It was during one of my mornings runs that the thought occurred to me to start a podcast and so the “Exponential Organisations” podcast was birthed.
Ready to leave Oracle and officially launch Idea Storm!
Looking at the Exponential industry it ticks a lot of the things that I have been looking for to successfully transition from Oracle and launch Idea Storm.
The ExO services can really assist companies to transform to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution.
he delivery of the services is through presentations, workshops and facilitation – all I have extensive experience with while working for Oracle.
The services involve sales which I believe I can do.
There are multiple revenue opportunities and so I don’t have to rely on one or two to make a living.
It gives opportunities for working on overseas opportunities and earning strong foreign currency – which is important for someone living in South Africa.
So with fear and trepidation I have handed in my notice at Oracle and will start working for Idea Storm full time from February 2020.
I hope we can journey together!
Idea Storm - An exponential growth consultancy
With Idea Storm I will be offering the full suite of exponential services.
Massive Transformative Purpose workshops. This is a half-day or full-day workshop to help companies, and executives, find the purpose for their companies. This has massive benefits for companies and all the leading companies today have well-defined purpose statements.
Awake sessions. This is also a half-day or full-day workshop. An awake session is to make companies, and people throughout a company, aware of the exponential world we live in. This makes them aware of the opportunities and challenges that this brings.
ExO Sprints. Once a company has realised that they need to transform to adopt the exponential model then the question is how to do this. This is done using a 10-week ExO Sprint and has now been proved to provide companies with both edge new business initiatives and also improve the core business of a company.
Consulting. Idea Storm will also be available on a regular retainer basis and can assist companies to transform over time to become an exponential organisation.
Executive education. OpenExO is now offering its Consultant certification to be used by business schools to offer as part of their executive education programs. Idea Storm is active in this area and will hope to get the leading business schools in South Africa to offer the OpenExO certification as part of their offering. I think it is vital that executives now about exponential work and how to transform their companies.
Speaking. At Oracle I have regularly spoken at conferences and need to investigate how to become a paid speaker.
As a solopreneur I heard on a podcast that there are three things to try and be as successful as possible. These three things are:
Work hard – this is self-explanatory.
Niche – identify a niche area to focus on. In my case it is offering ExO services.
Add value – constantly look to add value to prospects, customers and partners.
I will be using these three principles to make Idea Storm as successful as possible.
Plans for the Exponential Organisation podcast
I have really enjoyed the first 24 episodes of the podcast and up to now I have been experimenting to see how things will work. I have been fortunate to interview amazing people from around the world with my last two interviews being Salim Ismail and Tony Saldanha.
I would like to be more structured with the podcast this year and would like to have the OpenExO community as my target market.
\My aim is to have a weekly episode of the Exponential Organisations with this as the structure:
Week 1: An interview with an OpenExO member, or partner, that can share experience on working in the ExO world – doing sprints etc.
Week 2: Lars Lin Villebaek is aiming to have a monthly call and I want to ask him if I can use this call and repurpose it as a podcast episode. I think it will be of interest to members of the OpenExO community
Week 3: Customer references. I would like to start interviewing customers who have done ExO Sprints and what the benefits have been to their companies.
Week 4: The OpenExO community update with Kevin Allen. This will be a full episode of all the exciting things that are constantly happening within OpenExO.
Salim Ismail has said that he would be open to having another interview with me and it would be fantastic to have a quarterly update with him.
I hope you have found this special blog and podcast of interest. I don't really like to talk about myself but I have done so to give a bit more of an understanding of the person behind Idea Storm and the Exponential Organisations podcast. It would be great to journey together and so if you relate to anything in my story, or have suggestions for Idea Storm or the podcast, then please don't hesitate to contact me. You can do this by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on my website at www.ideastorm.co.za.