I don’t recall ever being ranked first at anything. By my senior year in high school, I managed to grow to an astounding and towering 4’11”, 98 pounds (1.5 m, 44 kg). I tried wrestling, cross-country, triathlons, trumpet, marching band, debate, public speaking, theater, and squash. I even had a little retail business selling candy out of my locker.
I never got a leading role or made the varsity team or made a fortune selling cinnamon toothpicks. I was never picked to be on a team, nor was I ever asked to lead. I think the closest to being first was every now and then I would win a wrestling match because there was no one in my weight class to wrestle, so I won by default. It really was not until I became a volunteer as a senior outreach visitor that I began to understand what is meant when we say, “I’m first.”
David was a holocaust survivor. Before I had started visiting him every Saturday, he had suffered a massive stroke preventing him from saying anything except his wife’s name, Helen. One day, on a very cold Minnesota morning, David and I were walking back from the library, and he motioned me to stop and sit at a nearby bench. We sat down and his eyes began to well up with tears. I did not know what to do.
But then he began to speak, slow and soft at first, and staggered, but he was somehow thoughtful and articulate. He began sharing, in detail, his experience in the Auschwitz concentration camp. I later learned David had never shared this with Helen, his son, or his daughter.
I don’t know how, or if, I can describe in words what happened to me emotionally that day but it changed me into the person I am now, and, in reflection, my concept of what being first really means. There is a basic human connection, both emotional and intelligent, that is passed on from one person to another that transcends any ranking, scoring, gaming, professional title, political agenda, capital gain, or incentivized point system. Being first endures and shines brightly. You are first when you cultivate an uplifted and inspired connection with someone, and you are first when you pass that spark on to someone else.
My time with David changed my career calculus towards a more connected human condition. My love for retail and technology and my interest in teaching led me to earn my MBA at night school at the University of Minnesota so I could ultimately become a retail CIO, a title I eventually earned.
However, the ambitious trek to get there was grueling, uninspiring, and lacking in compassion. Ironically, I wasn’t applying retail knowledge or dabbling with technology; and, most disappointingly, I was not helping anyone but myself as a CIO. I scored all the points, I got to the top, I had a prestigious title, I got to set the leadership agenda, but I didn’t feel like I was first. In fact, I was rather miserable. For me, there was no spark at the top of that mountain.
I left the executive management world, humbled but determined, with a single purpose: to rekindle the fire. I want to remind myself how good it feels to be part of a connected team, being inspired by others, knowing I’m progressing because like-minded people genuinely want me to reach my potential, and having the ability to pass-on that same energy to someone else.
I finally found my calling when I mapped out a path that led me to become a retail data scientist, a road, by the way, that led me straight to Anaplan. My introduction to Anaplan started when my retail client wanted to compare Anaplan functionality to the functionality of their legacy applications. Over time, I found my vision and outlook to be very congruent with the Anaplan Community’s values, very uplifting, thoughtful, and responsive. At Anaplan, they have a cultural norm called “Anaplan Love”. I certainly felt it.
The leap to being first didn’t begin until it was suggested to me to pursue the Master Anaplanner certification. I use the word “leap” because no one really becomes a Master Anaplanner without getting help from someone else. To earn this certification, I needed access to coaches and opportunities to apply what I have learned. The Anaplan Community is an open book. Access to virtually anyone, an active Anaplan Community, and free online training.
At Anaplan, they have a cultural norm called “Anaplan Love”. I certainly felt it.
The struggle to the Master Anaplanner certification is what leads to the forever enduring, give and take of building people up, whether that’s me learning from Anaplan Academy’s best and brightest, getting mentorship from Anaplan’s go-to-market team, or me helping someone get through their level 1 modeling experience, or perhaps me helping a retail planner to never again have to munge data together in a spreadsheet.
The Master Anaplanner journey is the destination. The countless hours I invested in learning Anaplan interviewing others, attending webinars, helping Anaplan customers, volunteering to build proof-of-concepts, and attending instructor-led courses is an investment in how to be first because each milestone led to a new friendship. My Master Anaplan certification is steeped with positive energy and is much, much more than a piece of virtual paper.
Being first will never be about how many Master Anaplanner points I have earned, or how many badges and kudos I have accumulated, or how many certifications I have. Those kinds of victories are fleeting, as George Patton was known for saying. At the end of the day, being first is about building up your confidence and then turning around and helping build up someone else’s confidence in something that they’re passionate about.
My Master Anaplan certification is steeped with positive energy and is much, much more than a piece of virtual paper.
When I say I am a Master Anaplanner in the retail industry, what I am really saying is, I feel like I helped someone be a better person with no expectation of recognition or reward. And, for once in my life, I can confidently say, I’m first.
2020 Master Anaplanner, Community Boss, & Retail Planning Enthusiast Principal Consultant, Columbus Consulting
Jared Dolich's passion for retail traces back to his high school days when he sold cinnamon toothpicks to his classmates and when he learned firsthand the concept of inventory management, cost of goods sold, and how to make a tidy profit. After being introduced to retail planning solutions as a buyer at Target Stores, he’s been on a personal journey ever since to help retail practitioners reach their potential by using software solutions that effectively enable their processes. Recently named a 2020 Master Anaplanner, Solution Architect, and Community Boss, Jared provides retailers, wholesalers, and eCommerce planners the rigor, training, and positive thinking needed to help them fully optimize their Anaplan platform. Prior to joining Columbus Consulting, a consultancy focused on the retail industry, Jared was a retail IT executive for Target, Tuesday Morning, Payless, and Ascena.