You have mastered the art of Re-Imagineering in your professional life by using your experience to move from one industry to another. Retailers and not-for-profits like Sesame Workshop, consumer products like Disney and Godiva Chocolatier, and other sectors like health and beauty. What advice would you give people who are hesitant to take a risk by moving into an entirely new category of business?
I learned, as life experience builds, many prefer operating in their comfort zones. We may be unaware that we do not know what we do not know, and the way forward is openness to possibilities.
Before a career pivot, explore who you are. It is different from what you do. Clarify your distinguishing qualities and how they deliver value-added results. Visualize a Venn diagram – drawing it is better – and identify the intersection of your value proposition with the new category.
The critical element is positioning ourselves across multiple dimensions to become larger than a single title or function. Communicating your value to others using a memorable phrase or word is also helpful. I am known as the PuzzleMaster for connecting the pieces across organizations, unraveling complexity, tapping new markets, expanding demographics, and driving profitable revenue.
You are also a multi-tasker par excellence! As a Fellow for Nassau Street Ventures, tell us about that experience in Venture Capital.
Thank you – much appreciated! I am a lifelong learner. I was curious about private capital markets and sought a way to gain exposure to venture capital while pursuing my next professional leadership role. I found the fellowship program, and a networking contact gave me moral support to feel they would take me seriously. I applied and earned a place in the 2022 cohort.
It is both challenging and fulfilling. The structured curriculum builds skills, while hands-on experience with NSV’s team is invaluable. Because the fund is agnostic, I see opportunities from consumer products, fintech, energy, and more. I can explore the “investor mindset” while at the same time enhance my financial acumen with a deeper understanding of sourcing, structuring, and funding deals. I am learning how the macroeconomic climate impacts investors and have gained insights into how partners balance their lived experiences against data-driven decision-making.
In one of our discussions, you told me that you love to jump into complex situations that require a lot of layers and challenges. Would you say that is an inherent trait or a learned trait on your professional journey? A part of Re-Imagining is to be fearless heading into the unknown, which has its complexities. How would you advise someone at midlife to leap into a new direction?
During a series of personal growth and development courses, it became clear that I have been “figuring things out” since a young age. Complexity draws me in, and I find cerebral challenges energizing. These characteristics are part of how I appear in the world.
We all know change is happening. Much is beyond our control, and it can be paralyzing. Nelson Mandela’s quote, “Fearlessness is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” is motivating. I love people and our unique ability to choose and cultivate a mindset. Psychologist Carol S. Dweck writes, “People with a ‘growth mindset’ see challenges as opportunities for growth, and embrace them willingly. They believe that effort and perseverance can lead to improvement and success and are more likely to view failure as a chance to learn and adjust their strategies. Developing a growth mindset can lead to increased motivation, resilience, and a willingness to take on challenges, ultimately promoting personal growth and achievement.” After reading her work, I realized that I approach all aspects of my life with a growth mindset. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable allows me to comfortably seek and embrace new directions.