Even before he began working for Oats Overnight, our Supply Chain Manager Gary Traylor was supplying premium fuel to consumers on the go. Except that fuel wasn’t oatmeal—it was jet fuel—and the consumers weren’t people—they were combat jet engines. Although these two roles are clearly related (Oats Overnight is basically the breakfast equivalent of jet fuel, isn’t it?), Gary’s transition from the Air Force to his true calling in supply chain work wasn’t smooth. The six-year period was plagued by setbacks, fear, and doubt—all of which he soon turned into success.
Gary Tried and Tried But Did Not Succeed
Out of high school, Gary was unsure where he wanted to take his career. So, inspired by his father who had served in the military throughout his upbringing, he decided to join the Air Force while he figured out what to do next. There, he spent nearly six years working as a fuel logistics specialist, making sure combat jets had the fuel they needed to hit the skies. His lifelong interest in tech eventually led him to pursue a degree in computer information systems. He graduated with flying colors in just three years and landed a programming position at a leading equipment and storage rental company where he worked on developing a new portable storage unit. Finally, his hard work and education would pay off and he could launch his career. There was just one thing getting in his way.
“I hated it,” he says, laughing. “And I wasn’t even good at it!”
For Gary, every day working at the rental and storage company was more challenging than the last. “I was struggling at my job. I was struggling with the projects I was getting. And one day, my manager came up to me and asked, ’Do you even like what you’re doing?’” Gary worked a year and a half in that position, mustering the willpower to succeed in the career he had invested so much time and money into but wasn’t enjoying in the slightest.
That’s when it dawned on Gary that he wasn't going to succeed in the career he’d spent six years relentlessly pursuing. “I thought, ’This may be the first thing that I’ve put a ton of effort into that just isn’t going to work out for me.’” Defeated, Gary quit his job and went back to the drawing board.
Turning Inward, Embracing the Pain, and Staying Positive
Today, Gary describes this transitional period as a time of soul searching, self-reflection, and growth. But that’s not how he saw it at the time. While in the thick of it, he experienced all the powerful emotional turbulence that inevitably flares up in the wake of such a life-altering setback. “It was terrifying. I had no other options. Or at least it seemed so at the time.” Still, he resolved to stay positive and search for a different path forward. “Whenever I’ve failed, there’s always been a clear path to a different sort of success if I just slowed down and looked for it.” He was down but certainly not out.
Up to this point, Gary had remained a member of The Guard, where he attended military training sessions for several weeks out of the year. The military had served him well as a transitional role before, so he decided to return to his fuel logistics job while he planned his next move. Refusing to let fear and uncertainty paralyze him, he looked objectively at his past and scrapped his various strengths and interests together. He remembered with fondness a supply chain course he’d taken in college, a class he’d thoroughly enjoyed and excelled at. He’d also developed an interest in supply chains through his fuel logistics job. After some research and careful consideration, he decided to make the leap, applying as a supply chain analyst for a start-up. Though he had little related experience, they admired his tenacity and the wide range of skills he’d acquired across his trying but colorful work history.
Finding His Calling
Gary says the start-up “took a chance on him” by hiring someone with such limited experience. What they probably weren’t expecting was someone who’d go on to transform their business. Feeling fearless in the wake of his prior failure, he took on many different projects and wore many different hats within the company. He developed relationships with manufacturers, built out the company’s fulfillment branch, and shored up any miscellaneous project that came his way. Plus, his programming skills gave him an edge in projects that required him to communicate with software engineers. He’d become unafraid to try new things, to learn, to fail, and to try again until he succeeded.
“Someone always told me that if you’re not failing, you’re not trying,” he says. That’s how I see it: If you succeed at everything you do, you’re simply not trying hard enough. You should struggle. You should be breaking things. You should run into things that don’t work. That’s what shapes not only what you want to pursue, what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at. But it helps you build resiliency and overcome future failures. And over time, it will turn into a success.”
Growing Stronger Every Day
At Oats Overnight, we believe that leaning into learning is the recipe for personal growth and success. Embracing setbacks and growing from our mistakes is how we got started as a company and how we continue to improve each day. We invite you to join us by pursuing your own goals as the strongest version of yourself, fueled by a premium breakfast and backed by a community whose members help one another overcome the challenges of daily life.
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