Seth Thompson| Business Development Manager – East Texas Region at AG|CM | Education Committee Member, SMPS Houston
How has SMPS helped you in your career? SMPS has provided me the resources needed to develop my professional skills.
I work for a small firm that has more than doubled in size in the last two years. Our corporate office is located in Corpus Christi, and in 2011, I was given the green light to move to Houston to start the East Texas Region of AG|CM. It was just me for a while until we got our first job, then I had one other person. Since we were a small firm from a much smaller market where we knew everyone, we did not have a robust business development department (nor any formal BD training). Everyone wore several hats to help move the company forward (I was a Cost Estimator, IT Manager, and Marketing Associate).
So when I moved to Houston, I was more or less making it up as I went along. I joined several different organizations and went to every relevant networking event that I could find. At one point, I was just walking into banks asking if they needed draw inspections. However, I was young (25 at the time) and had no real resources in Houston as far as personnel, so selling was difficult. There was no structure to my method, just trial and error. Fortunately, I got better and we started winning a few projects, which allowed for more people in Houston.
The Houston office has been growing over the last few years and we are now up to 7 employees (and hiring!). This is great news, but it means that I need to become more methodical in my business development approach. I am currently studying for the CPSM and the information I am obtaining from the handbook and other resources is exactly what I need. SMPS is giving me the knowledge required to build the business acquisition department that will take AG|CM to the next level.
What is the biggest benefit of being active in SMPS? For me, it is the resources available. From the educational events to the interaction with other business development professionals, I feel that SMPS offers a wealth of knowledge and experience I can use to grow professionally.
Business development is also a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, so it is fun to be able to chat/vent to others in similar situations.
Describe your typical work day. Every day is different depending on what events or meetings I have lined up. I am in five Chambers of Commerce, two Economic Development Councils, and on the board for a non-profit, so there is always something going on. I haven’t spent a whole day in the office since I moved to Houston. I actively market in four counties and, unfortunately, spend a lot of my time driving between them – I average about 2,000 miles a month on the road!
I will say that when my schedule allows, my favorite and most productive time is early morning. I will get up at 5 AM, make my coffee, and sit down at the computer. From that moment until about 9 AM, I can get a whole day’s worth of work done. Whether it is updating marketing materials, working on a submittal, or studying for my CPSM, those early morning hours are golden.
What do you love most about your job? I get to be an entrepreneur! We are building a company in Houston, so it is exciting to be on the front lines for every success and setback experienced along the way. As mentioned earlier, it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
Also, I get to play golf!
What has been your hardest lesson learned? I’m young, impatient, and I don’t already know everything. I still have a lot to learn.
If you were not in this industry, what would be your “dream job”? Venture Capitalist traveling the world helping startups grow. The thrill of helping someone take their idea from the garage to the market would be extraordinarily rewarding in itself. Add to that the world travel and investment opportunities, and it turns into a trifecta of awesome!
What would you do with a year off? I would like to travel around the world. I have been to a few places in Asia and Europe, but still have so much to see. My wife and I both enjoy traveling abroad, but don’t do it as much as we’d like. If I had a year off, I am sure I could easily convince her to join me.
What do you enjoy most about Houston? The dynamics of the entire area provide endless opportunities. There are so many different markets doing so many different things all the time. If you strike out in one area, just go a few miles in any direction and it’s a whole new growing market. From Sealy to Mont Belvieu to Conroe to Freeport, there is opportunity everywhere.
What would we find playing on your iPod, or phone, etc.? My musical tastes are a bit all over the place. It really depends on my mood:
- Excited – Blink 182, NOFX, The Offspring
- Relaxed – George Strait, The Allman Brothers Band, Jimmy Buffett
- Frustrated – Dr. Dre, Eminem, Wu Tang
- Too much caffeine – Metallica, Slayer, At the Gates
- Wife in the car – Taylor Swift
Where do you find inspiration? I like listening to a couple podcasts that keep me motivated. My two favorites are the Tim Ferriss Show and The Art Of Charm.
The Tim Ferriss Show is a long-format interview show where Tim Ferriss (author of 4-hour Work Week) interviews top performers to find out their habits/mindsets/practices that help make them top performers. A few of my favorite episodes were interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, and Pavel Tsatsouline.
The Art of Charm is a similar show, but more focuses on teaching others skillsets to make them better in their personal and professional lives. They interview various entrepreneurs/coaches/academics/etc. to extract information on topics such as public speaking, body language, networking, confidence-building etc.
Both of these shows tell stories of people that push themselves to be the best version of themselves they can be. I find that very inspiring and it motivates me to push myself. I know there is always room for improvement.