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Finding an eCommerce Database- What Actually Happened

A Case Study in the Power of Serendipity*

This actually happened to me, exactly as described.

The Meeting

I decided to take the meeting. The president of the company had agreed that I could continue to publicize my book. We meet at a Mexican restaurant close to work. He was seated when I arrived and after meeting and shaking hands we sat down and I asked, “And what do you do?”

This was counter to what many would ask. The meeting’s focus was on my book (Lucky That Way) and usually we would begin by discussing the book and event he wanted me to speak at.

His response was, “I manage the database for an on-line retail company.”

I quickly responded, “That’s interesting, I just started a new job as the vice president of product development for a datamining company and my first responsibility is to find an on-line retailer that will allow us to data mine their customer, merchandising, and financial data to see what value can be returned to the retailer.’

He said, “Believe it or not, but my boss called this morning and asked me to find a datamining company that would mine our data so we could see if there’s any valuable information that can be gleaned from it.”

We quickly decided that I would go by his offices after lunch and he would give me a CD that included his entire database. Then we talked about the original purpose of the meeting.

A couple of hours later I walked into the president’s office and laid the CD on her desk.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“It’s the entire database for an online retailer operating out of Denver.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“Nope … sorry it took so long to get it,” I replied with a big grin.

So what am I trying to point out with this case study?

Basically, one of my major effective leadership rules, “You never know where the solution is going to come from, or when it will come.” All you can do is try everything possible. Sometimes it takes weeks (even months) to solve a tough problem, but it you’re curious and open to the unexpected, sometimes the solution just falls into your lap. This wasn’t the first, or the last time that I had this kind of luck … but I’m always open to the unexpected, and I’m always curious to what’s going on around me.


*Serendipity (an unexpected outcome that turns out to be better than the original objective).

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Copyright 2007, Brad Fregger