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  • Writer's pictureAl Desetta

Great Expectations (or emotional resonance in memoir)

Someone once said that every novel could be called Great Expectations.  The same could be said about every memoir.  The cycles of expectation and disillusionment are deeply embedded in our storytelling. 


Dean Stoecker wanted to write a book about the many ups and downs he had in business before he achieved success as the co-founder of Alteryx.  Oddly (or perhaps not), he experienced one of his greatest disappointments at the moment that should have been his greatest success—when he rang the NYSE bell in March 2017 for the IPO of Alteryx, the data analytics company he had co-founded in 1997, 20 long years before. 


“I pressed the button, the bell sounded, and the crowd below me went crazy, whooping and hollering.  I bear hugged my son Reed and high-fived my team on the podium.  It had been not only my journey—it was our journey.  We had just become the only pure play analytic software company to go public.


“But as the crowd cheered and applauded, the moment felt oddly anti-climactic.  Not quite hollow, not quite disappointing, not exactly an emotional letdown, but certainly not what I had expected.  My 20-year ‘overnight success’ had been an emotional journey during which I had seen and experienced the highest peaks of enlightenment, the deepest troughs of disillusionment and despair, and everything in between.  That complex journey was hidden from the boisterous crowd celebrating on the Exchange floor.  It was invisible to the NYSE officials clapping at my side.  It was concealed from even my closest associates.  What was supposed to be a moment of great excitement, an event that most CEOs consider their crowning achievement, the pinnacle of their careers, even a final destination, was strangely empty.”


At that moment that Dean realized that the satisfaction of achieving the goal was not as great as the process of navigating the path that led to it—coming up with a new idea, thinking “this is it,” only to encounter failure once again.  And yet never giving up.  That emotional journey, that incredible struggle, not the final goal, was what he valued most. 


That’s when Dean decided to collaborate with me in writing a book that could help others navigate the same path.




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