When Your Detour Becomes The Destination
By Veanne Smith
Lessons from one of SOLTECH’s founders and CEO, Veanne Smith
I love getaway weekends! And road trip vacations! But I don’t love detours.
How many times have you been in the car headed somewhere only to happen across a detour?
When this happens, your first reaction is typically frustration, wondering how many minutes or hours this is going to add to your trip. Especially if you have children in the back seat who have already been asking, “how much longer ‘til we get there?” Maybe this means you can’t stop at your favorite burger joint that you’ve been thinking about all morning while your stomach has been growling. Or perhaps you are starting to feel anxious about potentially missing an event that you were traveling there for in the first place.
Turning Unexpected Bumps Into Life Goals
I recall a weekend getaway we had planned about 20 years ago with a group to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday. The plan was to fly to Massachusetts and spend the weekend on a vintage yacht outside Martha’s Vineyard.
Unfortunately, there had been a hurricane brewing in the Atlantic the week ahead of our getaway, and the hurricane was headed right where we were supposed to be.
Our friend who had planned the weekend suggested that we re-route to South Florida to a club he belonged to where they kept the boat in the winter. No boat? Florida? Really? This was not our plan. I just remember thinking, “What a bummer and what a letdown.”
As it turns out, we had an awesome weekend in that paradise setting in Florida where the weather was perfect, the palm trees were swaying, and cocktails were being served poolside. My husband and I loved it so much that we decided that our stretch goal was to figure out a way to afford the club and purchase a place there someday.
Fast forward, and here we are, 20 years later, working out of our second office, which is located in South Florida – in this place we fell in love with 20 years ago. I am reminded that sometimes I get really unhappy when things don’t pan out like I have it all planned, but if I give it some time, I sometimes find that my detours, those experiences I didn’t expect, were better than the destinations I had planned. And in fact, my detour became the destination that was meant to be all along.
How My Work Detour Turned Into My Dream Career
Detours can happen at work too. My work detour takes me back more than 30 years to when I moved from Chicago to Atlanta and joined the IT department at First National Bank of Atlanta. Less than a year in, the bank was sold to Wachovia, and we were told that many of us would get offers to move to North Carolina as our location was going to be closed down.
Ultimately, I was recruited by a consulting firm, which is where I transitioned from a software engineering role to an account management and business development role and ended up meeting my now husband and business partner, Tim Smith, and my life would be changed for the better. Had this little life detour not happened, there would be no SOLTECH. This little work detour actually led me to my ultimate destination.
Staying True To Your Core Values During Trying Times
There have been numerous twists and turns along the way since SOLTECH was founded, and we all have experienced a detour together recently. Yes, COVID. The pandemic. I recall hearing about Covid in late 2019 and thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Well, as we rounded the corner and moved into 2020, we found ourselves facing stay-at-home and social distancing orders and uncertainty. How were we going to stay healthy? Or even stay alive? Would we keep our jobs? Be able to provide for ourselves and our families? Keep our sanity while quarantined inside our house for months? I, for one, was not particularly happy that the world presented this major detour to the plans I had for living my best life during this decade.
I had been looking forward to the 2020s with anticipation, hoping for a modern version of the Roaring 20s. The Roaring 20s was a time of noise, lively action, and economic prosperity. It was the era of jazz bands, flappers, and a less-inhibited lifestyle. Coming out of WW1, factory production had risen sharply to meet the needs of the war, and America was able to capture new European markets.
So, what does this have to do with you today?
I believe these are the go-go years for many businesses, and we at SOLTECH are experiencing our own version of the Roaring 20s. I believe the pandemic detour led us to an unexpected and even better destination than what we could have planned for on our own. In spite of all the uncertainty out there – inflation, high interest rates, unrest, and layoffs, I believe that good companies can do great things even in the worst of times. Companies with a solid footing and foundation and who stay committed to their greater purpose and true to their core values can achieve great success.
For 25 years, SOLTECH had no plans to expand its footprint outside Georgia. Look at us now. We have talented team members located in about 25 states across the country! Team members who we would not have had the pleasure of working with otherwise. This unexpected detour led us to a better destination than what we had planned.
SOLTECH has experienced our best financial years during this decade. We have also gained the respect of numerous clients, resulting in recognition and industry awards. And we earned the honor to be able to say we are a best and brightest employer and top workplace 3 years in a row now.
A Sense of Urgency
It has been customary for SOLTECH to adopt an annual theme in recent years, with particular attention focused on our greater purpose and our core values. This year, we are going to focus on our core value which states, “We feel a sense of urgency on all matters related to our clients.”
I’m a farmer’s daughter. My dad worked 2 jobs, running the farm and also working by day at Caterpillar. Needless to say, he was a very hard worker, feeling the pressure of providing for a wife and 6 children. As soon as he deemed us old enough, my siblings and I had a long list of daily and weekly chores on the farm. We raised animals and crops that we sold for income, as well as animals and food from the garden that we lived off of. Trust me…it was a lot of hard work.
One of the phrases that I remember my dad saying all the time was, “The early bird gets the worm.” I never thought too much about the true meaning of that, but it was clear that what my dad meant was that the day started early, and if everything was to get done, we had to get at it. When I got older, I thought about the early bird and the worms, especially on morning walks. The sidewalks are often alive with plump worms but later dry out, unfortunately, under the heat of the sun. The light bulb went off! The early birds get the juicy worms. More importantly, I figured out that this is really all about having a sense of urgency. For survival. To stand out from the competition and to be successful.
Thankfully, one of our core values is not “The early bird gets the worm”, but rather we have a sense of urgency in all that we do. By establishing a sense of urgency, the goal is to change the status quo and push ourselves to not be complacent but rather to see that it is critical to move forward sooner than later. Many times, a sense of urgency means the difference between winning a deal and not.
If we make commitments with care and then do what we say we are going to do, if we commit to doing our best in all that we do, and if we feel a sense of urgency on all matters related to our clients, I believe we can be the best, most reliable, and most prestigious software development and IT staffing firm in the industry. We, SOLTECH, become The Gold Standard!
I hope that you, like me, find yourselves in a destination that fulfills you, challenges you, accommodates your work-life balance, provides well for you and your family, and allows you to live your best life ever.
I look forward to all that 2023 has in store for us and believe that no matter what opportunities, challenges, or detours come our way, we will do great things together and continue on our quest of making the world a better place by creating innovative software solutions that make our lives easier, safer, healthier and more productive.
Veanne SmithCo-CEO & Co-Founder
Veanne Smith serves as the co-CEO and co-founder of SOLTECH – Atlanta’s premier software development, technology consulting and IT staffing firm.
Prior to founding SOLTECH, Veanne spent more than 10 years in the technology industry, where she leveraged her software development and project management skills to attain executive leadership responsibilities for a growing national technology consulting firm. She is passionate about building mutually beneficial long-term relationships, growing businesses, and helping people achieve their personal life goals via rewarding employment opportunities.
Outside of SOLTECH, Veanne is considered a thought leader in Atlanta’s IT community. Currently, she serves on the Advisory Board for The College of Computing and Software Engineering at Kennesaw State University. In addition, Veanne helped launch the AxIO Advisory Council, has been a member of Vistage for 20 years, and created Atlanta Business Impact Radio – a podcast that showcases some of Atlanta’s most innovative businesses and technology professionals.
As an influential figure in the technology and IT staffing industry, Veanne consistently produces insightful articles that address both the opportunities and challenges in IT staffing. Through her writing, she offers valuable tips and advice to businesses seeking to hire technical talent, as well as individuals searching for new opportunities.
She holds a degree in Computer Science from Illinois State University.