As we face new challenges and levels of uncertainty, fresh perspectives and ideas are more valuable than ever. We’re so excited to welcome Denise Nelson to The Garage Group (virtually from Appleton, WI) as a Strategist, Lean Growth! She has spent the past 24 years leading innovation projects at Kimberly-Clark, and then building her own brand, where she enabled companies in the CPG, health, and banking industries to deeply understand their consumers/customers and develop better products, brands, and services.
“The Garage Group is really excited to welcome Denise Nelson to our team as a Strategist, Lean Growth. Denise has a wealth of experience leading learning plans and translating insights into marketable solutions for BigCos. We look forward to tapping into her experience and genius as we continue to shape the future of The Garage Group!” – Devin Baldridge, Senior Director, Lean Growth
Get to know Denise through her story of how she’s experienced greater exploration, impact, and growth by staying true to her personal “why.”
When my oldest child was four years old, he overheard a conversation between my husband and me where I must have asked “Why?” Without looking up from his toy, he asked, “Mommy, why did you ask why?” While this was years ago — my three children are now a high school junior, college sophomore, and recent college grad — that memory is a reminder of how, just like children learn by asking why, we too can learn so much when we explore the real “whys” behind behaviors, motivations, wishes, and tradeoffs. And by the way, I’m pretty sure toddlers were the real inventors of asking the five whys — all in a row!
However, I’ve found that it’s important to seek and remember your own “why” before trying to understand others’. My “why” is to clarify, connect, and strategize so that I can make a meaningful impact on people. These traits hold true in many aspects of my life, whether it’s spending time outdoors to clarify thoughts, participating in sports to connect with friends, or helping set strategy while serving on my church’s board. They are also what drew me to the front end of innovation. I love unraveling complex consumer problems — bringing clarity to vague questions, making connections across information, and creating strategies based on the bigger picture. The more intertwined the ball of consumer yarn, the more fun it is to unravel.
There was a point in my career, though, when I tuned into and relied heavily on my “why” to guide me in making a change. After 18 years working with similar categories and consumer targets, I sensed I didn’t have the fresh perspective needed to keep unraveling complex problems. I knew I wanted to leverage my innovation skills to impact more people in meaningful ways. I also was driven by my commitment to making a deep impact on my family. I wanted to show my kids that we shouldn’t let the fear of uncertainty hold us back from making a big change.
Following my “why” led me to start my own business as an independent innovation consultant, and eventually, this Strategist role. Both career pivots have renewed my desire to clarify, connect, and strategize by offering opportunities to dig into new need areas. I’m very excited to now help BigCos understand their “whys” with my TGG team, while also continuing to strengthen my own.