It was early ’08 and times were pretty good. I had set up a meeting with my mentor & friend Charlie Paparelli; professional career growth was on my mind. We met for breakfast at the Georgia Tech Hotel after one of our early morning bible studies inside of ATDC.
At that time, like I said, things were going well, but I was stretched thin. Between technical recruiting, real estate & stock investing, social clubs, new business ideas, non-profits, a new wife & sports, I was fully engaged in life.
At that time I was soaking up knowledge while building fantastic relationships with people from every walk of life, and I was going out on the town many evenings as well.
But there was one thing that wasn’t progressing rapidly enough for me. It was my dream to run a successful, high growth business.
It wasn’t long into the conversation till Charlie dropped it on me:
“Kyle, you’re an inch deep and mile wide.”
I’m not going to lie, it stung a bit. But that’s one of the reasons I love Charlie, he’s a direct guy. He then went on to share stories of the successful entrepreneurs we both knew, that I looked up to. I came to realize in fact that they were virtually always the exact opposite. They were an inch wide and a mile deep.
I remember questioning myself after the meeting, “could I live without some of those other things in my life?”
As I began to plan for more focus, I was immediately reminded of a quote from another mentor of mine whom I’ve written about previously, John Cutler. John used to always tell me:
“The measure of love is what someone is willing to give up for it.”
It started to make perfect sense. It didn’t feel as bad as I thought it would peeling off the periphery of my life. I realized that by going narrow, I was able to accomplish so much more. So I stopped trading stocks & slowed down the real estate hustle (which turned out to be lucky timing). I kicked about 50% of my social & sporting involvement and cut down on professional groups. Furthermore, I decided to dedicate my career to technology and I sought after focused areas where I would be happy going a mile deep. As my life transitioned, I quickly started to see and feel the rewards of the approach. To this day, I credit that meeting and lesson for a lot of the things I’ve been fortunate enough to experience and accomplish.
Mentors are great. Especially if you get the ones who will take a risk to call you out. I’m grateful for Charlie, & hopefully one day, I’ll be able to make the same type of impact in another’s life.