Chapter 4

Exploration: Go to the Woodshed

Every organization must prepare for the abandonment of everything it does.

—Peter Drucker

As the legend goes, in 1937, drummer Jo Jones threw a cymbal at Charlie Parker's feet, indicating it was time for Parker to leave the stage. Humiliated, Parker worked even harder at the instrument and that summer he famously secluded himself at a resort in the Ozark Mountains to work on his playing. Known in jazz circles as “going to the woodshed” or “woodshedding,” the term means secluding oneself to develop virtuosity through practice and hard work.1

Six years ago, before engineering the sale of Targeted Learning to Skillsoft, I had been accustomed to working in all aspects of the business. These activities ran from designing the user experience, to technical delivery, marketing, pre- and post-sales efforts, and of course the customer-service aspect of building relationships with the people and organizations that would actually use our products. In short, I was accustomed to being an entrepreneur in every sense of the word.

Among our small band of 11 employees and our various contractors, there were other immensely talented and remarkable people who had much greater expertise, and each had his or her own focus in the company. Amidst all their effort, I always stayed close to every aspect of the business. I enjoyed it and thrived, actively participating in the entire entrepreneurial process. In fact, I had to be able to take responsibility wherever ...

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