In the opening pages of his new book, “Hitting the Curveballs: How Crisis Can Strengthen and Grow Your Business,” Memphis entrepreneur Jay Myers is standing outside Yankee Stadium.
Myers, the founder and CEO of Interactive Solutions Inc., grew up in a house where his father was a diehard Mickey Mantle fan. Myers himself is a longtime Yankees fan. And his sense of wonder is palpable as he describes the moment in 2008 when he showed up at The House that Ruth Built for fantasy camp with 30 other baseball fans.
Journeys are often as interesting as their destinations, and that episode for Myers – arriving at baseball’s veritable cathedral – also is where he closed his first book, “Keep Swinging.” The scene was a feel-good valediction, because that earlier book told the story of how Myers nearly lost his Memphis-based videoconferencing technology business when he discovered an employee’s fraud that bilked more than a quarter of a million dollars from his company.
Myers and his company made it through to the other side. Employees rallied around each other, and the episode was such a shared trauma for ISI employees that someone prepared T-shirts that read: “I survived 4/29/03.”
“Hitting the Curveballs,” meanwhile, picks up Myers’ professional story from that celebratory personal moment at Yankee Stadium, and onward – to how he led his company through the Great Recession. The book is available now for pre-order at bookstores and as an e-book for most e-readers, and it will be on bookstore shelves by January.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my company’s success,” Myers wrote about that moment at Yankee Stadium. “But it has not come easy, for me or Interactive Solutions. Talk about getting hit with some curveballs. Starting with that tumultuous summer of 2007, my business and my life got hit with the biggest curveballs you could imagine.”
One ISI team member unexpectedly passed away. Myers’ wife was diagnosed with cancer. And the recession, of course, created a twister that ripped across the landscape of American commerce.
Myers described for The Daily News last year how ISI hit a down year in 2009, coming off $14.5 million in sales in 2008 and dropped to about $13.5 million the next year.
The company recovered, he explained, by rallying together. Myers, for example, put a premium on companywide town hall meetings – which employees jokingly described as “Jay’s Dance Party” – that kept everyone abreast of the business.
The way ISI pulled out of the recession’s spiral, Myers said, is by keeping “a very laser focus on what we were good at.”
“Hitting the Curveballs” features stories and practical tips from Myers’ experience. It’s an experience that runs deep in his family – at one time, for example, both Myers’ father and brother served as president of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, proving that entrepreneurship is in his blood.
ISI was founded in 1996 and specializes in video conferencing, distance learning, telemedicine and audio-visual sales and support.