Grace recently joined our team as an Associate Strategist, Lean Growth. She’s a proactive leader, constantly seeking to turn learnings into actionable steps. She leads engagements with a keen attention to detail, while also seeing the broader, more strategic picture to ensure the business objective is met. Her BigCo experience with brands like Blue Moon and Huggies gives her deep empathy for BigCo leaders facing market disruption. Through running Sprints and helping to develop marketing strategies at MillerCoors and Kimberly-Clark, Grace gained deep empathy for the sell-in stories needed to pursue ideas with leadership after the engagement. Check out her experience pushing past her fear of the unknown and transforming it into meaningful action.
At one of our recent Courageous Minds Only Chats, one particular quote from Chris Boeckerman, leader of P&G’s Growth Works, really resonated with me.
She said, “Do what scares you. That’s where you’ll grow the most.”
It set me on a path of reflection… For most of my life I’ve made decisions based on how well I could predict the future, which usually meant that I made choices that faced the least amount of risk.
However, eventually I channeled this fear to drive meaningful action. Late last year, I decided to leave the comfort and familiarity of my everyday routine to take time off to rest and recharge – two things I knew I needed in order to be the best version of myself both in my job and in my personal life. At the time, I had zero idea of what was next and as you can imagine, this was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. But with the constant support of friends, co-workers, and leaders, I gained the courage to make the leap.
During my time off, I volunteered, I read a ton of books (I recommend Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis!), got part-time work to help keep me accountable to a schedule, and spent quality time with friends and family. There were definitely days where I yearned to go back to my “normal routine” but I began noticing positive changes in myself. I grew closer to friends and family by being vulnerable. I started treating myself with kindness and compassion when I wasn’t going according to plan. And that “what if” voice in my head started to diminish and instead, I made decisions with confidence and rarely looked back.
By leaving my world of routine and familiarity and face my fear of the unknown, I was able to build the courage to be welcoming of uncertainty – something that’s inevitable and what I now believe is necessary to lead to growth. Instead of focusing so much of my attention to what could go wrong, I spend my time thinking about the possibilities that it could lead to. It also helped lead me to where I am today, at The Garage Group, utilizing the skills I’ve learned from this experience, as well as my BigCo experience, to help clients navigate uncharted territory with confidence.
Below are a few tips that have helped me face my fears and I hope they’ll help others continue on a journey of personal and professional growth.
Over the past few years, we’ve hosted conversations with more than 50 courageous BigCo leaders from organizations across the country. Now, after being inspired by the community we’ve fostered through Chats, our four current interns are designing and hosting their own version of a Courageous Minds Only Chat for other students and interns — the next generation of courageous minds!
We’re Olivia, Leah, Cagla, and Emily, The Garage Group’s interns! As students and interns ourselves, we understand many of the challenges accompanying new beginnings and an uncertain path forward. We believe that we can combat these challenges with courage by building a strong community in which individuals can connect with and gain inspiration from others in similar situations.
We’re pumped to cultivate this type of community at our first-ever Courageous Minds Only Chat: Next Gen on Wednesday, July 24th from 5:30-7:00 pm at Longworth Hall (700 W Pete Rose Way, Suite 333, Cincinnati, Ohio 45203)!
Join us for a conversation led by panelists’ stories and lessons, and fueled by your curiosity and vulnerability. Together, we’ll learn how to embrace the uncertainty of our futures and reframe it as an opportunity to think and act bolder. Specifically, we’ll chat about how to communicate our unique strengths and passions, how to view “failures” as learning opportunities, and how to feel empowered to use our voices to join important conversations in our community.
If you know anyone who would benefit from the Courageous Minds Only Chat: Next Gen, please extend the invitation!
Below is the event agenda:
5:30-5:45 pm Community Building
5:45-6:30 pm Panel Discussion
6:30-7:00 pm Community Building
There will be light refreshments provided. Event costs have been covered by The Garage Group so it is free to attend, but registration is required below.
As our company has grown over the past few years—we doubled our Cincinnati team and added more team members in Chicago and beyond—we’d outgrown our Cincinnati Longworth Hall space and needed some updates to how we functioned as a team. The space needed to accommodate us, give us a place we love to come to work and allow us to be as productive as possible. In an effort to continue to love our company, love our team, and love our space, we decided to put an organized effort into bettering the space we work in on a daily basis.
We took our own medicine and leveraged our Lean Growth Playbook, especially leveraging Jobs to be Done, to develop empathy and team focused solutions.
In order to first understand our ‘audience’ – US – we asked the TGG Team to participate in a painstorm, either virtually via survey or in person. Uncovering hundreds of pain points for employees both in the Cincinnati office and remote, we set out to identify our core Jobs to Be Done. The whole company participated in scoring and prioritizing Jobs to understand where our attention should be placed when improving the space.
Once we understood the core Jobs to be Done, we sought inspiration – via our favorite Trends & Analogs approach. We toured neighboring offices in Longworth hall and spaces outside of Longworth to understand how other companies and spaces were solving some of the Jobs we needed to address. Then we took our inspiration and held an ideation session to identify the best TGG ways to solve for each Job. We identified potential budgets and pitched our plan to leadership, and got buy-in to move forward to improve the space.
Our team came up with 240 pain points, in which we broke down into 110 Jobs to be Done. Here are few of the highest prioritized Jobs to be Done and how we transformed the space to solve for them:
I need an efficient way to conduct a meeting with virtual team members no matter what part of the space I’m in.
Our team invested in Zoom Rooms, which enabled us to have better video communication between offices. We added monitors to rooms, enabling people to video conference while also being on their computers.
I need a space that makes it easy to collaborate with others.
Our previous configuration of the space made it difficult to sit in the open and collaborate frequently and easily with others. By knocking down walls and creating a more open environment for our team, collaboration happens more organically.
Give me a place to work when I need to focus without distraction.
Historically, when our team needed to focus, people would go into conference rooms. But as we grew, we really needed the conference rooms to be solely for calls and meetings. Upon doing research, we found why setups like rooms and cubicles enable more focus: shielding the peripheral from distractions. We built custom “nooks” so that people can have the feeling of being in a room or in a cubicle, but still be able to be part of the office and collaborate.
Give me a space where the entire on-site team can comfortably sit during all-team gatherings.
By knocking down the walls, we’ve not only enabled this, but we’ve also been able to start hosting Courageous Minds Only chats in our office for the first time.
BigCo leaders are under tremendous pressure to keep their organizations relevant and growing in the face of increasing uncertainty. And as battle-tested leaders courageously trailblaze the way forward, it is more critical than ever for them to learn from and connect with other battle-tested leaders. We’ve created Courageous Minds Only communities in cities like Cincinnati, NYC, Chicago, and more as one way to enable that, but also highly recommend attending conferences, especially if you have a desire to dig into specific topics, tools, mindsets, and methodologies. We’ve shared a list (in no particular order) below based on our own experiences and external recommendations, but please share your thoughts with us. What conferences have you received the most value from?
Big conferences aren’t the only way to learn from others and explore more in this space. As we’ve gotten involved in the Chicago ecosystem and stayed involved in Cincinnati, we’ve found our local tribes at places like 1871 and Union Hall.
Share your thoughts with us. What other conferences should be on this list?
The Courageous Minds Only Community is a safe space for entrepreneurial BigCo leaders to network, learn, and seek inspiration to solve their biggest challenges. Over the past month, the movement grew in Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, New York City, and Columbus after we hosted Courageous Minds Only Chats in each of the cities.
We heard battle-tested stories and lessons from trailblazers at KIND International, Citi FinTech, Post Consumer Brands, Paycor, Estée Lauder, Pfizer, Nationwide, and more. When asked about how they lead with courage in the face of uncertainty, 11 themes remained prevalent among all of their answers.
Embrace Curiosity and Conviction for What’s Next
Put yourself out there to discover what’s next, hustle to lean into that curiosity, and make changes happen.
Invite the Ambiguity of Innovation
Throw yourself into situations that make you uncomfortable, embrace humility and vulnerability, and ask “Why?” more often. Change creates discomfort, yet opportunity, and leads to growth for everybody.
Always Take the Risk
If you want to eliminate all uncertainty, then you’re never going to get started. Take risks as often as possible; you’ll never regret them, no matter the outcome. From a leadership standpoint, make sure to reward your team for taking risks, whether or not they are successful.
Expect and Accept Failure
Let go of the concept of perfectionism because failure is inevitable. However, your mistakes don’t need to be considered failures if you learn from them. What can you do differently the next time around?
Innovate Within Barriers
Place small bets, then use the results from the small bets to make bigger bets.
Place the Consumer at the Core
Knowing that you operate on behalf of your consumers, if you don’t change, you don’t serve your consumers well. Let every single one of your decisions be informed by your consumers. If you’re in need of inspiration, get closer to your consumers.
Gain Support Along the Way
Sell your decision makers along the way. That way, when you’re ready for the official pitch, the leadership team already knows what’s coming and all you need to do is make the specific ask. The more you can position your solution as one of your consumers’ needs, they’ll advocate for you. If you’re met with objections, remember that it’s not an opportunity to speak up, it’s an obligation.
Foster Diversity of Thought
Cultivate a team of individuals who think and approach situations differently. The traditional marketers are still valuable to have, but mix in some entrepreneurs and artists. This unique combination of people will naturally foster diversity of thought as they challenge one another and build off of the ideas brought to the table.
Communication is key when managing diverse teams. Bold ideas need be met with bold conversations.
Let Your Data Speak
Support your courageous efforts with data. If the data disproves your own point of view, consider adjusting your original decision.
Act like an Owner
When you’re able to connect a personal interest to the impact your team or organization is making, you become an owner of your work, resulting in more courage, passion, and consistency.
Seek Your Inspiration Fuel
When you lose your spark, how do you reignite the fire? Try surrounding and fueling yourself with positive people, and always returning to your “why” of driving change. Everyone seeks inspiration in different ways; find yours.
Learning from others’ battle-tested stories and lessons is valuable, but in order to impact your organization to move faster and smarter, you have to start making changes, small or big, in your own life, team, or greater organization. What will you do tomorrow to lead with courage in the face of uncertainty?
Thank you to the Courageous Minds Only Communities in all six cities for boldly inspiring one another to continue changing the BigCo landscape. More Courageous Minds Only Chats to come this fall!