How My Career in Technology Influenced My Fly Fishing Business

9/14/09

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for you! Kill your servers, get those applications off of your internal network, and focus on running your business instead of running your software systems.

—Managing a far-flung team takes work.

As was the case at Onyx, my team is spread across cities, time zones, and even countries. When you don’t see your team in the office every day, you realize that managing a far-flung team takes some additional work.

Communication needs to be made a top priority. Regularly scheduled team calls (we do one weekly) can seem like a chore, but making consistent live communication a priority works wonders for keeping folks up to speed and providing a more casual format for questions and issues. Regular one-on-one talks with key team members (I keep track of when I’ve talked with each member of my team) remind your team of your interest and again provide a forum for issues that they may think “don’t warrant a phone call.”

That being said, there’s nothing like actual in-person face time. Getting your team together regularly pays huge dividends. At the very least, spending time in person with key employees is an absolute must-do. No amount of e-mails and phone calls can replace a handshake, a look in the eye, and a simple “thanks for all your hard work.”

—In software and in fishing, there’s no substitute for an A+ team.

I was incredibly lucky at Onyx to work with an incredibly talented, driven, fun group of people. Having consulted to a bunch of other businesses during my time at Onyx, and having looked at a lot of businesses in the fly fishing industry, it’s clear to me now more than ever that in a service-oriented industry, your people are your product.

When guests return home after a trip at one of our lodges and I contact them for feedback, nine out of 10 comments can be traced directly back to my team—guides that made a slow day enjoyable, hosts who dealt with off-hand requests, kitchen staff who delivered coffee in the morning, and mechanics who made sure that motors ran smoothly.

When looking in on a small world like the fly fishing industry, it might be tempting to draw the conclusion that delivery of product can become “mechanical”—that you don’t need to worry so much about a quality team. If your product involves any degree of personal contact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your people are your product!

Andrew Bennett is the founder and president of Deneki Outdoors, a company that owns and operates fly fishing lodges in Alaska, British Columbia, the Bahamas, and Chile. Andrew spent nine years at Bellevue, WA-based Onyx Software, culminating in three years as VP of Professional Services for the Americas. Follow @

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  • http://www.marchonpartners.com Eric Marcheski

    This is a great and very truthful article. I worked for a 6 billion dollar organization where we handled everything internally. When we started our firm we decided to focus on our clients not on internal systems and have found very sound SaaS folks who do a very good job for very little cost. Keep on fishing. Thanks for the article.

  • January

     Andrew: I work for Orion Entertainment in
    Denver.  We are the #1 producer of outdoor television programming. 
    Currently, we are working on a new series that I would like to talk with you further about.  Please contact me at 720-891-4839. I believe that you would be a person of interest
    for us!  Thnx.