I was scared to death!


Grand CanyonDise & Company opened its doors twenty-five years ago on January 2, 1991. The decision to leave AIM Executive to start my own company was tough. It'd been fun starting AIM's Consulting Services Division from scratch with my colleague, Ken Sachs. We'd overcome many startup challenges together.

Yet I'd always dreamt of running my own business. I was 39 with a six month old and two older toddlers. Waiting longer would have put me in the "saving for college" period of life. Taking the financial hit that comes with a startup would soon be unfeasible. In November my wife said "do it now."

Quitting a good job to start a business from scratch is scary. I was a nervous wreck during the 1990 holiday season. While shopping at Tower City in downtown Cleveland I sat on a bench for a moment, got up and absent-mindedly left behind a bag full of brand new coats for my kids. By the time I realized what I'd done the bag had vanished.

Within three days of opening our doors we had our first engagement. I never used the seed money my mother-in-law and my grandmother gave me. I sure appreciated the love and support their gifts represented. It was good to know that my wife wasn't the only one who had faith in my ability to start a successful business.

When I look back twenty-five years to December 1990, it's hard to imagine how anxious I was.  I thought I had to leap the Grand Canyon. Now I can see that it was just a crack in the sidewalk.

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Ralph Dise

Ralph Dise is founder and president of Dise & Company. Ralph has a life-long interest in developing leaders and helping enterprises succeed. He learned his earliest leadership lessons as a teenager attending a summer military program.