Cris Miller is getting ready to move on to the next chapter of his life - retirement. Before he leaves behind Technology Diligence, difficult markets, anxious GPs and the usual headaches of deal making (and breaking) to discover new art galleries, photography locations and the calm Maine landscape with his wife Marcia, Cris agreed to share the more important things he discovered over the years. Cris, you will truly be missed by each of your colleagues, clients and legion of friends. We will always have memories - and now this wisdom. Good luck, Godspeed and enjoy life!
Read on for Cris' "Things I have learned in business".
Some people never know when to say goodbye.
At 66 my “bucket list” has out weighed my need/desire for full time employment. I have made the decision to retire. Ten years ago Mark DiSalvo invited me to join Semaphore and we started the Semaphore Technology Diligence practice - to run side by side with the funds under management business. Call us silly, naïve or just plain blind but September 1, 2001 was not the best of times to start a practice catering to VCs, Growth Equity, low and mid market Private Equity. The “bubble” had busted but we figured we were at the bottom of the business cycle so there was only one way to go. WRONG. The tragedy of 9/11 put a halt to any belief there would be a quick start to this new business. Nonetheless, we went all in anyway. Thanks to much encouragement from the investment community we persevered and finally got our first engagement. Literally hundreds of fascinating engagements later we have serviced billions of dollars of invested value and, I truly believe, fulfilled the promise and hopes of that hopeful September day a decade ago. Thank you.
The practice goes on without me (we’ll write about that in a very short bit). Here is a list of a few things I learned not only in this endeavor but in 4 other start-ups and a number of different career positions. So here they are – “Cris’ Commandments”:
Things I have learned in business in the past 50 years:
- Make friends and influence people – thanks Dale C (that’s Carnegie for all you folks under 66).
- Measure your impact and make adjustments immediately – even if they are the wrong ones!
- Learn from everyone. Remember, each person you meet has something of value…even if they can only be used as a bad example.
- Relationships are the most important thing in business, for that matter, in life.
- Collaboration is the key to success. Partnerships can take many forms and it’s OK to invent new types.
- Work the ecosystem. Even if you cannot reciprocate keep up the effort.
- Setting expectations is critical.
- If you can’t do it – DON’T!
- Hoping for a good outcome does not work. Smart planning and strong execution is all.
- Be kind to everyone. Your Mother was right, you never know from where the next referral may come.
- Stay in touch – people and positions change. We’ve earned hundreds of thousands from calls made 5+ years ago.
- Ego and hubris is trumped by good judgment and logical thinking.
- Due Diligence is required in all aspects of life. Try, say, marrying without it.
- The expression “no good deed goes unpunished” is not true. All good deeds are rewarded – eventually.
- Sometimes the best deal is the one you do not do.
- Loyalty is a rare commodity. Give it and treasure those who provide it.
It’s been a sometimes tiring but almost always fun adventure. I’ll be thinking of you all - whether on the lakefront in Maine, shooting photos in Madras or eating blowfish in Kyoto. Thanks again.