Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Meeting Douglas Sayer of Premier Technology

 I’ve met some pretty legendary people in my lifetime: some who I knew would greatly impact my life and others who have changed the world. It’s incredible to meet both kinds of people, but there’s something truly extraordinary about seeing a world changer up close. They have this energy about them that instantly builds excitement and innovation. And even in a few moments, you can catch that “je ne sais quoi.” I remember feeling this when I met Stephen Covey and later stayed at his home while fiddling as a homeless street musician in Hawaii. And I felt that today while visiting with Douglas Sayer.

Many of you might recognize this name especially if you’re from Idaho. Doug started Premier Technology with his beautiful wife, Shelly, in 1996. Since then, it’s accomplished the unthinkable: streamlining processes that have helped industries across the globe, creating cutting-edge technology that truly improves the world, and finding solutions that were once unthinkable. Yes, this company boasts over $100 million in annual sales, but that’s not what impressed me most about Doug. What impressed me is his kindness.

Let’s back up a minute. In 2021, I cried at my computer. Months before, doctors had given me two years to live, and I found writing to be one of my best outlets. But sometimes, even writing can be devastatingly hard. And so, feeling even more sick than normal, I thought about quitting writing. “There’s no point,” I said under my breath. And I thought then, that if God really wanted me to share my story, He needed to give me a sign. If (and that seemed to be a BIG if) my writing benefited other people, I needed someone to say so … that day. To say: Keep Writing. Honestly, that’s all I needed, those two little words.

I posted a story and got several beautiful comments, mostly about people praying for me. And while these meant the world, they weren’t what I’d asked for. I turned solemn, thinking it had happened, my time to retire my pen. Then, just when I’d nearly given up hope, I received a comment from Douglas Sayer—thee Doug Sayer! And he, of all people, sent those two words I’d asked for hours earlier: “Keep Writing.”

You know, life is absolutely astounding. I never told Doug what his words did for me that day; I didn’t know how. Anyway, time passed and he continued commenting on some of my other posts. I told my son, Trey, about this one day. “That’s the kind of guy I want to work for,” he said.

“Huh.” I smiled. “I think they do tours.”

So, I reached out to Doug, and when I asked if they offer tours, he not only said “yes,” but he offered to show us around himself.

Trey and Indy got more excited than I’d seen them in a long time. Indy changed her outfit about three times, and Trey wrote down a few questions he’d ask if he got brave enough. We arrived today, and Trey looked at me with wonder. “I can’t believe he bought some books from you.”

“Right?” I said. “Trey,” I tried remaining calm, “the books he bought … I needed that exact amount of money for trips to Utah so I can get these new radiation treatments.” I swallowed the lump in my throat. “I just want you kids to remember how good God is.” We’re not religious, but we’ve sure seen miracles since I got sick. “God looks out for us. It’s astounding.”

After we went into the building, Trey and Indy pushed me in my wheelchair, and Doug gave us the most wonderful tour. I ended up asking some of Trey’s questions (since Trey got nervous), and then I threw in a couple of my own.

“I’m just full of questions.” I giggled. “You can tell I used to work for a newspaper. But I really wanted to ask … you said the most important thing you’ve found in business is to ‘look ahead’ so you can always stay above the competition. But what about life? With everything …” I paused. “With everything I’m going through, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of life, wondering, ‘What’s the point?’ So, what’s your best advice for life?”

He appeared thoughtful. “I guess my advice would be the same: look ahead. I always compare it to throwing a football. You know that at some point the football and the shadow will meet. I’m like the shadow, trying to keep up.” And as he spoke, I nodded, thinking how ironic it felt that this advice fully embodied what he’d done for me with the words “keep writing” years ago. He shared that at a time when I felt like no longer making goals or achieving them. Sometimes it’s so easy to give up and give in when you’re told you’re dying from cancer or you have another brain tumor. But his sage words both in 2021 and today, hit home.

On the ride back to Pocatello, Trey tapped the steering wheel. “I told you he’s the kind of guy I’d want to work for.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“You can just tell the kind of person he is, how he took time with us, to make sure we all felt important. It means a lot with everything we’re going through.’

“That whole thing was amazing,” Indy said.

Trey nodded. “I’ll never forget what he said about looking ahead. I know it’s important to plan, but something about his words—I’ll never forget it.”

“That’s because you just met a world changer,” I said, and I didn’t even have to explain further.

“I guess so.” And that was the end of the conversation.

After we got home, I couldn’t help feeling so happy and warm in my heart. “You ready for the next round of treatments?” my nurse called to give me the appointment schedule.

“Yes, I am. I gotta keep looking ahead and moving forward.” I smiled, unable to help myself. “I learned that today, from a new friend.” 

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