7 Lessons Learned for Courageously Founding & Pivoting Your Career amid Uncertainty | The Garage Group

7 Lessons Learned for Courageously Founding & Pivoting Your Career amid Uncertainty

“The world is changing. Our business climate is changing and it’s accelerating. Change is accelerating,” David Jaggi, Global Innovation Director, Kind International shared in our recent Courageous Minds Only: Next Gen. “There are roles that existed five years ago that almost don’t exist anymore.”

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our lives, and continues to accelerate change at an unprecedented pace, we are all challenged to think differently, pivot, and become more comfortable with operating in this state of constant change and uncertainty. 

On July 8, we hosted a Courageous Minds Only virtual chat specifically focused on encouraging young professionals who are founding their careers, all professionals in transition, and BigCo leaders pivoting into new roles and disciplines, to embrace that uncertainty and operate courageously.

Jason Hauer, Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer at The Garage Group, interviewed these three top leaders in the retail and CPG industries to discuss the future of brands, retail, and CX and where jobs and opportunities will start to shift: 

Here are 7 key lessons learned from our speakers for founding and refounding your career amid uncertainty:

In face of disruption, hone in on brand value.

“As a brand, if you were looking at these uncertainties and going back to throw out a game plan – and you can never truly plan because things like COVID happened, things like, Hurricane Sandy, for example happened and everything became disrupted. You have to think about, what is my brand’s value? Where am I the most valuable? What products should I prioritize making the most out of? Who are the key suppliers that I need to focus on? I think a lot of it has to do with having your beat on the pulse of the current landscape and being bullish to understand and make choices for your brand or for yourself that will most likely have the highest outcome.” – Emily Deyanova, Vice President of Sales, Natural & East, Vital Proteins 

There is no concrete playbook. Be open to all possibilities.

“It’s something in our culture where we stand stories and people up as heroes, I think, because that’s exciting. Like you look at Steve Jobs and you say, ‘Look at what that guy did and you think there’s, there’s no way I could ever do something like that.’ He himself is someone who said, ‘No, that’s actually BS, why can’t you do it? People are no smarter than you or I. We’re all just making this up as we go.’ And if you approach life that way, and if that’s your philosophy, which is that we’re all just making this up, there is no concrete playbook. This is all just made up and we’re figuring it out as we go. And, put yourself in situations where opportunities naturally come to you in that way, because I think people want to be around others who have that strong degree of openness and believe in the human potential. And so I believe in the human potential and I think that anyone can do just about anything within reason.”  Steffan Howey, Digital Product Leader, Kroger

Overcome fear of failure.

“The biggest fear I had might’ve been fear of failure; fear that I wasn’t going to live up to my own expectations or somebody else’s (if my boss had expectations) and it drove me into a really weird space. I think at some point, you just have to get over that and just drive yourself to be open to the opportunities that are presented to you. Be present, have passion. Where can I put that extra time, effort, and energy, that allows me to be open to opportunities and allows me to have the courage to move forward.”  David Jaggi, Global Innovation Director, KIND International

Dive deep and develop specialized technical skills vs. becoming a generalist.

“There are deep technical skills that we have huge gaps in because for the last 20 years, everybody’s turned into a generalist and they all want to manage an external agency to do something for them. And nobody’s a specialist. So I think, I think there are going to be very interesting pockets of expertise where if you have a real strong passion in something, I would suggest dig deep, like dig really deep and become a subject matter expert at it. And if you’re good at it and you have a passion at it, you’ll probably be successful.” –  David Jaggi, Global Innovation Director, KIND International

And as it relates to potential technical skills and specialties, product management as a function is growing. 

“If I were graduating college, and I was looking for a job today and I was interested in technology, I would certainly start by looking at product management because it just exposes you to the entire business and you get so much visibility into how it all comes together, which will only support everything else that you want to do in your later career. You’ll have that skill, you’ll have the knowledge, and you’ll have a base to build off.” Steffan Howey, Digital Product Leader, Kroger

If you’re currently seeking a job, use this time to dig deep into an area you’re interested in/want to work in. Find jobs that will support you but also give mental space to learn in areas you’re passionate about.

“So how do you support yourself in a world where you just graduated college? You accrued a bunch of debt, and now you’re asking, ‘What does the future look like?’ Well, immediately you’re thinking, ‘Well, I’ve got this debt and I’ve got to pay it back and I’m supposed to go and get this job and I’m supposed to do these things.’ If it were me, I would say, ‘How can I just find a job that will support me and will give me the time and the mental space required to go really, really deep into areas that I’m going to be passionate about?’ When you’re 22 years old, and everyone’s telling you, ‘This is what you’re supposed to be doing,’ that’s very, very hard to do. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of self-belief and that’s okay. That would still be my path, knowing what I know today.”- Steffan Howey, Digital Product Leader, Kroger

Networking & Mentorship = Key 

“There was a question that came through about convergence, between passion and your paycheck. For me, it’s always been networking. I’ve always been able to connect with people if I was interested in a different field or if I thought a company was really cool and they had great products, I would always reach out to them and talk to them and kind of try to understand what they were actually all about. And if I didn’t have the mentor that I had when I was 22, I don’t think I would be here today. I think to give the perspective of what you know, and what you don’t know. There’s a lot of people who do know, in some way, or they can shed perspective. That’s really valuable. It’s just the right connection and it has to be an authentic connection, but those people can open so many doors for you.” – Emily Deyanova, Vice President of Sales, Natural & East, Vital Proteins 

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