Family, extreme sports and chickens are all in a day’s work for Applied Business Software’s A.J. Poulin.
A.J. Poulin has never shied away from trying something new.
“I’m a sponge. I read all the time and always want to have a new adventure.”
Not a Tightrope Walker, But . . .
Today, Poulin balances time between his role as the vice president of sales at Applied Business Software (ABS) with activities like surfing, snowboarding, fatherhood and running a cage-free chicken egg business with his 16-year-old son Hunter.
He also believes everyone should go bungee jumping at least once in their life. “I live for stuff like that,” he said.
Poulin manages the Applied Business Software sales team in all their operating territories as well as the marketing team across all their products. Currently, these products are rolled out across 23 countries, covering six continents.
The Mortgage Office—ABS’s flagship product—is a tool established lenders use to originate and service loans and manage mortgage pools. After discovering a need among smaller lenders for a product similar to The Mortgage Office, but with fewer options and more simplicity, ABS developed a light software called The Loan Office.
Now, Poulin helps companies access and use these products. “Companies that purchase and roll out our systems streamline their back-office operations and have a much easier time attracting capital,” Poulin said. “Those things together help fuel growth, and that’s what we see over and over again—our customers growing and expanding.”
Poulin doesn’t just push the limits with extreme sports. Part of the success ABS has experienced is a result of Poulin’s work ethic, willingness to take risks and personable nature.
Years ago, when Poulin was ABS’s sole sales representative, he sold $1 million in a single year. It was a company milestone. Not one to settle for initial success, Poulin set even higher goals.
“I took that number and made it my new baseline,” said Poulin. “Now I have a great team in place, and I help each of them hit those kinds of numbers.”
In nearly 20 years at ABS, Poulin has increased the firm’s reach and abilities, evolving it into a global enterprise. He has played a key role in helping ABS become the de facto lending platform in the U. S., and both The Mortgage Office and The Loan Office’s use have soared, with no hint
of slowing down.
It’s All About Performance
So, how was someone who’s so creative, drawn to the outdoors and touched by a bit of wanderlust become attracted to selling loan servicing software?
“I’m doing exactly what I want. I got lucky. I was able to merge my various backgrounds into the perfect position,” he said.
When Poulin was 13, he quit the football team to sell magazine subscriptions door-to-door for a fundraising contest. He won second place out of 500 kids. That experience taught him a few lessons that have affected his approach to sales—and life.
“First, never be afraid to ask for the check. Second, if you don’t get it, go knock on other doors. Third, a ‘no’ right now may turn into a ‘yes’ tomorrow if you leave the door open.”
Poulin went on to graduate from Boston’s Northeastern University in 1989 with an engineering degree. But, he began his career as a model and actor who traveled the world. He decided to move abroad and set up a new home base in Tokyo, Japan, and later in Madrid, Spain. During that time, casting directors sought him out and featured him in more than 100 television commercials for brands like Levi’s, IBM, Acura, Buick and Miller Beer. Poulin worked around the world in cities such as Amsterdam, London and Barcelona.
After becoming acclimated to having the eyes and cameras facing his direction, Poulin moved to Los Angeles and took to the stage. He became a stand-up comedian and improv comedy performer, taking classes at the legendary Groundlings Theater and learning the craft from industry celebrities like Kathy Griffin and Lisa Kudrow.
While honing his comedic abilities onstage, he also applied his skills to paper. Before long, Poulin was writing scripts for hit ʼ90s TV shows, including “The Michael Richards Show,” “Daria” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” He directed “A.J.’s Dogumentary”—a 1999 documentary about dogs and their overly-affectionate owners, which won the audience favorite award in three out of four film festivals that year.
A short time later, Poulin took his passion and skills to ABS, where he quickly moved up the ranks, eventually earning his current role of vice president of sales.
“The TV writing, stand-up comedy, acting and improv helped me be quick on my feet,” he said. “My years of traveling around the globe helped me to quickly study people and decipher someone’s personality. My engineering degree with a focus on software helped me on the technology side. My sales drive comes from growing up without a lot of money and wanting to change that. Lastly, I’ve always been a sponge, very curious and thirsty to learn. So, put all of that together, and I have the perfect gig—I use all of these skills every day,” he said.
When asked what he loves most about his work, Poulin made it clear that he likes to keep things new, fresh and fun.
“It’s a box of chocolates. Every sales call is different, every lead is different, each region we sell to is different, and we have inquiries from all over the globe, from many different industries,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get when you pick up that phone. It’s also incredibly busy every day, all day, which I love. On many days I look up and it’s 4 p.m., and I wonder where the day went.”
With so much success and so many experiences, you’d think Poulin would opt to take it easy and relax. But, Poulin says that’s not his style.
“I learned early on that if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded financially,” he said. “With that, you get to make the life you want. How cool is that? I’ve been at ABS for 19 years now, and on most days, I’m the first person here. Why? I want to lead by example and want my work ethic to be contagious.”
One of the areas where he’s leading by example is with his family. Poulin is working to implement an entrepreneurial mindset within his own household. Recently, he played a supporting role in helping his son Hunter start a business called Chickens Without Borders. The not-for-profit organization sells and delivers cage-free chicken eggs and donates the net profits to two charities for veterans.
“Honestly, we were up to our eyeballs in eggs, and we wanted a way to share them with people,” Poulin said. “We have 28 chickens, so we were getting about two dozen a day. The chickens roam around in the grass eating bugs and seeds, versus just corn, so the eggs taste amazing.”
The Chickens Without Borders endeavor gives Poulin the opportunity to teach his son the intricacies of business that he may not have encountered elsewhere.
“Basically, the stuff they don’t teach you in school—balancing the books, tracking expenses, P&L statements, effective marketing techniques and things like that,” he said.
But the upside goes beyond teaching his son to run a business. Poulin says he’s helping his son to understand that “we can help, in our own small way, the men and women who serve our country.”
As for the future of Chickens Without Borders, Poulin said: “We’re still scrambling to figure that out—pun intended.” ∞
(To learn more about Applied Business Software and its products, visit TheMortgageOffice.com.
For more information about and/or to order eggs from Chickens Without Borders, visit ChickensWithoutBorders.com. To learn more about Poulin’s career in Hollywood, check out his page on IMDB.com. If you’d like to connect with him, find him on LinkedIn.)