Serendipity Sets the Stage For Success at Marketing Direction

christy-vogel-family-newIt takes passion, brains, a good business plan and a commitment to succeed to make a start-up business work – and serendipity helps.

For Vistage member Christy Vogel, president and founder of Marketing Direction, the serendipity started when the company where she had worked as vice president of marketing laid her off in September 2009 – two weeks before her wedding.

Her then-fiancée Bill had been showing her articles on businesses where former chief finance officers worked for one agency but serviced several clients. When the Wall Street Journal published a similar story, Christy and Bill had already decided to start Marketing Direction for chief marketing officers in January 2010. “It really worked out well,” she says. “I probably never would have left that comfortable job, but we cut back on the cost of the wedding and started a new business right then.”

As the economy rebounded and business began to grow, Christy met Vistage Chair Cindy Hesterman and immediately thought about speaking or sponsorship opportunities with an important group of CEOs. “I never thought I’d be big enough to actually join though.”

“They showed me how I could get completely out of my day-to-day job by 2020 but still earn a nice income.”

Fast-forward two years, and Hesterman saw a LinkedIn note on Marketing Direction’s fifth anniversary and emailed to congratulate her. “A light went off in my head and I realized we really needed to talk – I had actually gotten to the point of joining Vistage,” Christy said. “I just wish I had done it sooner.”

Like many CEOs who join Vistage, it totally turned around the way Christy ran her business, teaching her to work for the business, not in it. “They showed me how I could get completely out of my day-to-day job by 2020 but still earn a nice income by overseeing a team of highly committed people and focusing on business development.”

Working backward, Christy and her Vistage team set goals for each year to meet her objectives for 2020. “They thought I could do it earlier but I feel more comfortable with that number written on the wall,” she said.

“Just like many new Vistage members, Christy needed encouragement and accountability to get to the next level in her business,” Hesterman notes. “I’m proud of how far she has come.”

In the meantime, Bill has been diagnosed with leukemia/lymphoma – and while he’s currently free of symptoms and does not require chemotherapy, having Vistage backing her business plan has made a scary journey more comfortable, Christy said.

“At some point, Bill may need more of my time, so I’m fortunate to be able to step away from the business if I need to. Either way, there’s definitely more beach time in our future,” she said. “I also want to work with local universities to find start-ups that need high-level recommendations for marketing plans and set them on the right track. I’m not the kind of person who sits still well.”