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Rick Smedberg Takes the Windy City by Storm

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Associate Spotlight June 2011
The last thing Rick Smedberg expected when he signed on as a Virdian Associate was that he’d choose to move nearly 1,100 miles to sign up new customers, yet he couldn’t be happier with the decision.

His story is one of opportunity, faith and determination, and shows how one Associate is chasing his dream far from home … and succeeding.

“I’ve been a volunteer for the Cape Cod [Mass.] Baseball League for about 15 years,” Smedberg recalled. “It’s the No. 1 summer college baseball league in the country, with ten teams total. We’re always trying to figure out where the money’s coming from to support the league, and we were getting frustrated with declining revenues.”

Then Smedberg got a call from Associate Brian Giblin, talking about Viridian coming to Massachusetts. “I listened to his pitch and he mentioned the fundraising aspect of Viridian,” Smedberg said. “That’s how he got my attention; I saw how this could help the league and then I realized the opportunity on a personal level.” Rick Smedberg joined as an Associate with Viridian on November 1, 2010.

“I started to build a network of Associates in advance of the Massachusetts launch. I had the beginnings of a head­start on the business, but then the company decided to delay the rollout,” Smedberg said. “They announced this at Momentum, but at the same time also announced a pending launch in Illinois. I could see the potential for success in Massachusetts and thought, ‘That’s it; I’m going to Chicago.’”

Smedberg, who spent 20 years as a Navy pilot, retiring in 1994, has a thriving business in Massachusetts called AutoQual, which repairs the interiors of used cars for auto dealerships. “I have three great support people in my life,” Smedberg said. “My wife, Barbara, who understands me completely, and the two employees who run my business. Because of all of them, I was able to pick up and go to Illinois.”

And that’s just what he did. Smedberg emptied out one of his work vans, loaded it with supplies, and drove to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. “I’ve got a room in a house with three guys I don’t know, am up and out by 7 a.m. and don’t get back until about 10 at night. I’m out every day meeting people,” he said.

Smedberg says he is already enjoying success in Chicago. He also said he’s fortunate that his personal connections who know someone in Chicago, “have reached out and connected me with friends of theirs out here.” These are people he refers to as ‘fuzzy contacts.’ “Unlike warm contacts, these are people who have been referred by a friend,” he said. “It’s a great contact to pursue. One person removed is a ‘fuzzy contact.’”

A big reason Smedberg is doing so well is “I like the product,” he said. “It’s something people are going to consume regardless. I’m not selling anything; I’m just an educator and facilitator,” he explained. “For me it’s a very rewarding proposition.” And, he said, his enthusiasm for the residual fundraising program remains strong.

Like most Viridian Associates, Smedberg is driven not by one “Why” but by several “Whys” that define his passion. “The biggest Why for me is the financial part,” he said. “I like being able to make some money and have it as a sustainable business. I can see the profit potential.” But, he said it’s not profit for profit’s sake that really keeps him going. “If I can get a different revenue stream in addition to my business, it will help me enjoy my grandkids. I won’t have to worry about income,” he said.

Another of his Whys is much more personal. Smedberg’s son Peter is an Army officer, currently serving in Afghanistan. Like any parent would, he worries constantly, and will continue to do so until his son’s deployment ends in March 2012. “Going to Chicago helps me relieve idle ‘brain time,’” Smedberg said. And he’s putting his time in the Windy City to good use.

“I’ve got some very strong possibilities out here,” Smedberg said. “It’s happening in Chicago.”