Many years ago as Executive Director of a specialty buying group, I had a heated discussion with a colleague about entering the home automation business. This friend fiercely admonished me for encouraging specialty dealers to get into networking and control. His point was that getting into home control and automation took the wheels off a business and could just as easily put that company out of business. On what basis could he make such an ominous assertion?
He gave me food for thought.
I am a hands-on kind of gal, so I figured I would see firsthand what the learning curve required. I pinged Bryan Koutsky at Control4 and asked if Barrie McCorkle and I could go through Control4 training in Salt Lake City. He remarked that no other buying group executive had ever made that request, but welcomed us with open arms.
I well aware one of the pitfalls in getting certified for a home automation solution was that all too often, the CEO/owner of said CI company took the available seat in the training room. Additionally, in many cases the owner did not really completely understand networking. So the CEO/owner of the business is sitting in a class room trying to learn networking and Control4 programming simultaneously. Then the owner would go back to his company and try to teach his programmer what he kind of, sort of learned. Not a recipe for success.
Determined to be prepared for C4 Programming, I called my dear friend Helen Heneveld, President of Bedrock Learning. I had long been persuading dealers to take her “Home Networking for Installers” before attending any home automation training. Initially, Barrie scoffed at having to sit through Bedrock Learning’s “Home Networking for Installers” with me. (Secretly he thanked me later – if you aren’t perfecting this craft all the time, you do forget some of the intricacies). Helen’s best trainer ushered us through the online class. Barrie passed the exams with flying colors. I, on the other hand, had to study and took copious notes on TCP/IP, DHCP, WANs, LANs, WAPs and WEPs… This industry is over loaded with acronyms, but Home Networking is the consummate jumble.
I made my plane reservation and flew to Salt Lake City.
I entered the training room with trepidation. I was clearly the only women in the pack and certainly the oldest person in the room. Barrie was the next oldest (still thirty-something) and the rest of the “boys” were all 20-somethings. The programming instructor, Gordon, went around the room and asked us to introduce ourselves and share our favorite movie. Who knew that Will Farrell was so freakin’ popular with boys? The ice breaker was coming closer to me and I was desperately thinking “Nosferatu.” Instead I blurted out “The Princess Bride” (which actually is my favorite movie). Gordon chuckled, “Didn’t they celebrate the 20th anniversary recently?” Seriously Gordon? You had to say that?
Fortunately, one of the boys remarked, “My name in Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” Pretty sure he watched the movie in Huggies.
Most of the boys in the room had a Control4 installation already on the books for the following week.
The San Francisco Giants were in the playoffs, and I am a fan. Barrie and the boys all got together at the bar to watch the game and share Will Farrell quotes, “Buddy the Elf, What’s your favorite color?” “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” “I planned out our whole day. First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.” Any guesses on Barrie’s favorite movie?
I, on the other hand, retired to my hotel room to study, and study and study some more. There was no way I was leaving SLC without my C4 certificate. Friends called to tell me Lincecum was was on the mound. So what…
It was one of the proudest days of my life. I passed the C4 test with 27 points (one needed 25 of 30 to pass). The next time I saw Jim Arnold, Senior VP for Control4, he acknowledged our Group for hitting our annual rebate that year. I will never forget what he said next, “I know the rebate dollars mean a lot to you, but this probably means more…” and he then kissed me on the forehead and congratulated me for achieving C4 certification.
Jim was right; I beamed. “I just like to smile,” said Buddy the Elf, “Smiling’s my favorite.”