Celebrating TGG Entrepreneurial Leaders Expanding Their Roles

June 27th, 2018

The second you walk into the TGG office, you know that we foster a culture of continuous learning and growth. Our team is always striving to become better entrepreneurial leaders so that we can continue to grow our clients. We learn from books, podcasts, and most importantly, from our clients and TGG teammates.

Recently, four of our team members were recognized for their tremendous growth and recognizable leadership, and were promoted to new roles:

We sat down with each of them and their mentor or mentee to hear more about the experiences which led them to become the entrepreneurial leaders they are today.

 

Jessica Clark

Senior Project Manager

“Jess has grown so much since she joined TGG. Her entrepreneurial leadership style that I so admire is her willingness to dive into anything and do it with a smile. She is willing to learn what she doesn’t know. She is scrappy enough to figure it out on her own, yet humble enough to know when to get input. That exemplifies our values! She is great at uncovering pain points and serving the organization by solving them often before they even realize it. She embraces the growth mindset, constantly seeking feedback and excited to step into new challenges.”

-Megan Milar, Operations Director

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as an entrepreneurial leader?

Before coming to TGG I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but my time here has taught me what it truly means to be one. It’s about being driven by passion, the desire to create, build, and grow and the strength to persevere through failure. Leaning in to new challenges and new approaches has been critical to my growth as a Project Manager and an entrepreneurial leader. Additionally, honest and thoughtful feedback is a must; asking for it, being open to it, and providing others with it is imperative to growth.

What past experiences of your influenced the way you lead?

Early in my career, I was promoted to a PM position at a BigCo and ran my first campaign. Like most young professionals, I was eager to prove myself, ensure everything went perfectly, and demonstrate that I could handle it all. In all my planning, details were missed, and I nearly over spent millions of dollars. Panicking and upset, I finally went into my director’s office to inform her of the situation. She looked at me and said in a very calm and friendly way that she understood I was upset, but that this is not the first or last time I will mess up. I learned that I am a better help to myself and the company if I accept my mistakes and pivot from panicking to ideating potential solutions, leveraging my team to do so. My former director treated me with respect, provided helpful feedback, and reminded me that leaning on teammates is a sign of strength, not weakness. Leadership is about behavior, not titles, and I remember this story often as I continue to grow.

 

Dennis Furia

Senior Director, Lean Growth

“Dennis is a tremendous example of an entrepreneurial leader. His knowledge of the broad toolbox of approaches, mindsets and skills needed to drive real entrepreneurial growth among the clients he works with is impressive. He consistently creates new approaches, including the thinking behind our MVP lab capability, which he piloted last year. Dennis is both credible and humble, both kind and influential. Every client he works with excitedly refers him to others, and comes back to work with him again! He’s an amazing asset to our TGG team and we are excited to promote him into the Senior Director role.”

-Ann Thompson, Co-CEO

You’ve likely experienced some challenges on your journey toward becoming an entrepreneurial leader. What advice do you have for people on their own journeys?

One of the biggest challenges that I’ve seen people face is the disembodied “They.” Whether it’s Legal, Finance, or some other function, potential innovators often conclude there’s no way “They” would be okay with an idea, or assume that “They” have probably already tried it. In reality, pushing through to pin the disembodied “They” to a specific person usually reveals an individual that is excited to collaborate and help fight through barriers.

What practices do you use when mentoring others in becoming entrepreneurial leaders?

I try to ask questions that break up negative momentum and frame challenges in a way that makes them more manageable. For example: I’ll almost reflexively respond to a “We can’t…” or “We would never…” statement by asking “What would need to be true for that to happen?” Usually the answer is way more feasible than people initially assume it is. Similarly, it’s easy for people to create a long, daunting list of unknowns when assessing an idea. I coach them to ask, “How confident are you that you could figure out each unknown if you invest some time,” rather than needing to have every answer up front. This usually boils the list down to one or two truly meaningful unknowns, with the rest just being “to-dos” that we’re confident we can accomplish.

 

Danielle Koval

Strategist, Lean Growth

“Danielle is a driver, through and through, with a true entrepreneurial spirit. She has never met a challenge she hasn’t sought to tackle. Danielle operates with an innate sense of urgency, and she is the first to volunteer to trail-blaze into unchartered territories. Her eagerness to learn and grow is infectious, and she’s a huge asset to our TGG team.”

-Erin Faulk, Vice President, Lean Growth

What was your favorite business challenge to tackle? What were the lessons learned?

My favorite challenge so far was helping a construction company develop a 5-year strategic plan. This specific project required bringing in a lot of people at different levels of the company, from the executive committee, to officers, to senior managers. We brought them together to do some really intense research to understand their current business, but also areas of opportunity to enable future growth. It was a huge body of work with a 120+ person team. When it came to synthesizing the research to enable our strategic discussion of where the company should play and the problems we were trying to solve, it was emotionally taxing, but also thought-provoking; it was a really different experience for me. It taught me to take a step back and understand the story that needed to be told with the data, and convey truly what was important in order to drive that strategic conversation with the client.

What resources do you recommend to people on their journey toward becoming an entrepreneurial leader?

Knowing what you don’t know is just as important as the knowledge you do have, so asking the right questions is critical. To me, becoming an entrepreneurial leader is about understanding your resources so you know who to ask, what to ask, and when to ask it. It really is about squeezing the juice out of your resources and pulling those levers of exactly who, what, and when. It may not be a specific resource, but more about how you define and use your resources.

 

Taylor Lowry

Senior Director, Lean Growth

“Taylor is incredibly curious and always open to learning and mastering new skills and processes. She is also an incredible teacher and coach for both her internal TGG team as well as client teams. She puts everyone she works with at ease no matter the situation with her calm communication style and contagious smile! She’s committed to developing the skill set of everyone she works with and really takes to heart the needs of those she leads. Having the opportunity to learn from her and work side by side with her has been such a fun and inspiring experience!”

-Monica Dabecco, Associate Strategist, Lean Growth

What motivates you? How do you translate that when leading a team?

A colleague and I recently spent a full day going through Simon Sinek’s “Find Your Why” course that had a lot of discussion around what motivates you, so this is a timely discussion! What really drives me is figuring out the right pieces that are needed in order to equip teams to achieve their goal, providing a kind of structure to make sense in an unstructured environment. I think this is important both in leading internal teams and external client teams because it implies that you have to have a really strong grounding in the problem or need before you can start to action plan a structure around a solution.

Which of The Garage Group’s values do you most align with in your leadership style? How do you communicate that?

Out of the 6 values, the one that resonates most with my leadership style would be Authentic. Within each of our values there are several competencies we focus on as well. For Authentic, the competencies I think most align with my leadership style are relational, approachable, and self-aware. It’s really important to me to be in tune with and be seen as approachable to both internal teams and client teams in order to break down any perceived barriers and start to function as a single unit accomplishing a shared goal. I also believe being self-aware in “knowing what you don’t know” allows myself as a leader the ability to tap into other people’s strengths and expertise and pushes me to continue to look and think externally.

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