Last week was bittersweet here at Greystone, as we said our goodbye’s to our (now former) Director of Business Relations, Gary Aronhalt. Gary joined the Greystone team in 2008 and (despite an 18 month hiatus) he has had a huge impact here at Greystone from his role as a Support Tech to his role as a Director. As he goes on to pursue his own entrepreneurial endeavors (which we couldn’t be more excited for him!), he will be greatly missed. So, as a farewell, and as a look back, we decided to interview Gary as a team.
Tim Hurley, IT Consultant: What brought you back to Greystone after you left the first time?
Gary: Gob Bleuth’s words summarize my feelings almost immediately upon leaving Greystone the first time. While that’s somewhat tongue in cheek, there’s a lot of truth in it. Life is funny. What brought me back actually harkens back to what brought me to Greystone in the first place. In 2008, I had finished grad school at Denver Seminary, and was planning on moving across the country to be back closer to my family. At the last minute, the job I was “promised” fell through and my wife Melanie and I found ourselves with no jobs, student loan payments looming, all of our stuff in storage and living in our friend’s basement with them and their two kids. I needed a job, fast. An old friend of mine, Scott Kerr, had been working for Greystone and I heard that they were considering hiring a Support Tech. Having some technical ability, I applied and Peter took a chance on me and hired me. I’ve scarcely ever been so grateful for anything.
It was a great fit. There was something about the chemistry of the office and work environment that suited me, and I suited Greystone. I loved the people here and I loved helping our clients. But, I had this nagging feeling that I wanted to use my education, so after 9 months or so, I took a position at a church here in town. And, unlike Greystone, it was NOT a great fit. After 18 months there, I was burnt out, depressed and I needed something else, fast. I sent an email to Peter asking if there was any chance Greystone might want me back and, serendipitously…they did. I missed the camaraderie I had experienced. I missed my friends. It was like a homecoming when I came back.
But, it wasn’t just that I was desperate for a job…As Peter and I talked about the possibility of my return, I was excited to come back in an expanded role, that eventually grew into all of the various things I’ve done with sales, marketing and more. It was the fact that Peter was interested in having me come back not just for the moment, but that he was willing to dream about ways to create roles and outlets for my personality and gifts. It’s one of the things that make Greystone uniquely great. So, at two very, very critical junctures in my personal and professional life, Peter and Greystone showed up huge for me. I am beyond grateful.
Kai Medders, Business Operations Associate: So first of all, Gary – how dare you? I know, I know, I know… I’m a jerk
Second of all – what have you learned from being at Greystone that you think will carry over to your new endeavors?
Greystone has always been intentionally nimble. When a change needs to be made, or action needs to be taken, we’ve done it. That kind of willingness to step out and move and take action, even if all of the “i’s” are not necessarily dotted, is awesome. I’ve had ideas for business ventures for some time, but felt like I had to have everything planned out before I took action. I’ve learned from Jesse and Peter and others that most often you only learn by taking action, by getting going. I believe more and more that a plan only becomes clear once you get moving. That’s an incredibly valuable lesson. Hence my movement…
John Warne, Web Developer: What are the things that we at Greystone are going to miss about having you around?
A couple of things…one, someone’s going to have to pick up the mantle of making pancake breakfast for the offices! Two, my singing DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” loudly through the office whenever we closed a new deal. But seriously, one of the things I’ve loved about Greystone is it has been a safe place to be vulnerable as an employee and a leader, and so I’ve stepped out and taken that risk at times to put myself out there…I hope Greystone not only misses that, but that people step up into that type of sharing and vulnerability to continue to make Greystone an incredible place to work.
Kaati Ross, Support Team Service Manager: 1. May I have your French press? Nope. Ikea. $7.99. Treat yo’ self.
2. What is the most memorable moment you’ve had at Greystone?
You mean apart from that one absolutely insane time when I was a Support Tech, when I went onsite to help a (now former) client who was literally crying because they’d personally brought their business to a halt with their own ludicrously bad decisions? That was a doozie. Actually though, in 2012, we really began experiencing a level of growth that was pretty profound. We had always known there was something special about what was going on here, and the growth really started to reflect that. So, in early 2013 we threw our hat in the ring for the Small Business of the Year award from the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. We’d never done anything of the sort, and so it seemed a long shot. But low and behold, they loved us and we became a finalist! This award was quite the production, and there was a day that their entire award committee came to Greystone for an office visit. They had a cameraman shooting video. There were interviews with team members and a little presentation by Peter to their committee. It was all tremendously exciting for us. Unfortunately though, our friends and clients Footer’s Catering beat us out that year. But it was so much fun to go to the awards ceremony, and all that goes with it. I have this memory of Peter right before they announced the winner…he was so fidgety and nervous. It was awesome.
Another great memory is my team, “Gandalf The Greystone,” winning Geeks Who Drink Trivia at the Christmas Party in 2013 and then defending the title again in 2014. Boom.
Also, this one time, in the old, tiny office, an entire cup full of Dinty Moore Beef Stew exploded, loudly about one quarter of a second before the microwave timer dinged. It was astoundingly loud, perfectly timed and shockingly thorough in its coverage of the microwave interior. And it was hilarious, but you kind of had to be there…
3. Who is the person that surprised you the most at Greystone? What did they do that surprised you?
I can’t name just one person who’s surprised me here at Greystone, as there really are so many! And what I mean is that being a fast growing organization, there are times we’ve simply had to trust people with significant responsibilities. We’ve had to put critical aspects of the business into the hands of people and believe that they would succeed. And what’s amazing is how often people have risen to those challenges! Our team is pretty amazing and I’ve been continually surprised at the way people have grown, developed, and matured. It’s been awesome to witness. And so, that’s a great reminder to me that so often people flourish when given more than you initially think they can handle.
Heather Howerton, Marketing and Sales Administrator: What are you looking forward to the most about your new endeavors and what scares you the most?
I love change and I love new things, ideas, places, etc. There’s something so invigorating to me about the very newness of these new things that I’m looking forward to. Also, I’m looking forward to all of the hidden challenges. The little things that I cannot even conceive of right now that I’ll have to learn or do or think or find out or outsource or get help with…I’m looking forward to tackling those as they come.
Regarding what scares me the most, I think it’s that big, sprawling, massive question that so many face: Do I really have what it takes?
Nick Hemmert, IT Consultant: What was your favorite client onboarding story?
First a bit of back story…for quite some time I was primarily a Mac user here…and my experience with Microsoft Outlook was a bit stunted and underdeveloped. Anyway, just before a certain onboarding, I had recently discovered that Outlook stored “conversation history” from our Lync (now Skype for Business) chats. This was a revolutionary development for me! I could now go back and look through previous chats to find tidbits of information that helped me do my work! Eureka! And because I’m a myopic, self-focused dolt, who has a tendency to only think in terms of my own experiences, I assumed this conversation history feature MUST be a NEW thing because I had just found it.
So, around that time, we had an onboarding for a very, very technically savvy new client, where we were welcoming them into our client community. During the course of that meeting as the topic of Office 365’s features came up, I casually yet proudly, mentioned my recent discovery as if I were revealing some astonishing new trade secret. And much to my surprise, that announcement of my recent discovery was met with absolute crickets. Just silence…silence and a crestfallen look from my Greystone comrades who were clearly embarrassed at my now blatantly obvious ignorance. Furthermore, our brand new client was clearly underwhelmed. And with the warm, spreading flush of embarrassment, I trailed off into something else.
I learned that day (once again?) to adhere to the old Abraham Lincoln adage: “Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”