Interview with Beth Comstock: Inspire, Fight for, & Encourage Courageous Minds

January 30th, 2019

We started the Courageous Minds Only chats as a community to inspire BigCo leaders with the courage to move faster and smarter in the face of increasing uncertainty, essentially to operate more like startups and to be able to share lessons learned along the journey. As Beth Comstock mentions in her book, the pace of change will never be slower than it is today, and it’s accelerating…we have to continually reinvent ourselves and our companies if we want to stick around. We were reminded recently that if you want to learn and grow in a certain area, you must get around people who are way ahead of you…what an honor and privilege we had to learn from Beth Comstock during a recent Courageous Minds Only Chat in NYC.

If you’ve followed her career, or read her book, Imagine it Forward, you know about the incredible journey she’s been on. She built GE Ventures, which develops new businesses, and oversaw the reinvention of GE Lighting. She was named GE’s CMO in ‘03. She served as President of Integrated media at NBCUniversal from ‘06 to ‘08, overseeing the company’s digital efforts, including the early formation of Hulu. She’s a Director at Nike, and she’s been written about and profiled extensively from the New York Times, to Forbes, to Fortune, to Fast Company. And she’s been named on the Fortune and Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women. 

When she sat down and talked with Jason and the rest of the NYC Courageous Minds Only Community, she humbly and candidly shared the fear she felt during her early steps, how she took ownership over changes that had to happen, and how she gave herself permission to take chances and boldly try new things.

Here is the full video—we’d highly recommend you take an hour for discovery and learn fully from Beth!

But we know time is limited though; here are seven of our favorite clips + top learnings for BigCo leaders and entrepreneurs. Take time, watch, and listen to the inspiration that you need the most right now.  

TAKING ON CHALLENGES: Curious about your persistence to put yourself out there to take on challenges, but then the capacity to also learn and grow through the peaks and through some of the tough times as well. Can you talk about that? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

EXTERNAL CONNECTION: As you reflect back on your career, what were the things you did that allowed you to stay externally connected, and to be able to anticipate where things were going? It’s easy to get back to the day to day grind where you’re not putting yourself out there. WATCH THE CLIP>>>

RESILIENCE: When you faced adversity, whether you failed, or you’re learning, paying it forward, or you know with conviction you’re right and the rest of the organization isn’t there, what gave you help and resilience in those moments? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

EMPOWERING A TEAM: I imagine you’ve had incredible teams that have worked for you over the years. How are you able to take that change agent, courageous mind, and attitude, and empower your team with that so that they felt like they were empowered, and had permission to go out and test ideas? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

HULU & FAILING FORWARD: I loved the story of Hulu in terms of how you fought for it early and fought for the right team. It’s interesting to see the iVillage acquisition play out and the lessons learned afterward. I’m curious what you learned from that. What enabled Hulu to be successful? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

STAYING MOTIVATED: What is the reminder for you to be motivated, to continue to still innovate knowing that wall might not move, knowing that you have that small effort of change, being that catalyst toward pushing the company forward? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

CULTIVATING COURAGEOUS MINDS: We have a room full of amazing courageous change makers, who obviously are doing crazy cool things. They’re making an impact. What advice, wisdom, encouragement would you leave them with? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your stories with us. The thing we’ve taken away from Beth is to keep swinging; it’s easy to rest on what we’ve done…reading her book—which we’d highly recommend—and chatting with her has encouraged us to think bigger.

What’s the one thing you’ll do differently after watching this interview? Make a commitment to yourself to figure that out, and start something tomorrow.

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