One Year Later
On the anniversary of anything, I become sentimental and retrospective. I’m sure most of you can relate or Hallmark would be out of business.
But this anniversary is particularly special to me. The one-year anniversary of the beginning of my newest chapter and the birth of 822 Group has made me especially reflective.
Starting a transformation consultancy has revealed many things to me this year, one of which has been the surprises that were waiting for me throughout the journey.
I’ve been surprised at the immensity and intensity of support for what I’m attempting and for my messages about empathy, authenticity, accountability and purpose. I’ve been surprised at the brave and brilliant colleagues, partners and clients that have come forward to take the journey with me and reach for something greater. I’ve even been surprised by the haters, and I’m usually never surprised by the haters!
But more than anything, I’ve been surprised at the evolution of this business itself. I promised myself when I set out that I would always listen to EVERYONE and stay completely open to the signals, no matter where they came from. Remaining open, even when I really, really didn’t want to, allowed me to hear what it was people really needed. Clarity. Hope. Empathy. Vision. Purpose. Above all, someone to hold up the mirror and show them the inherent perfection in their business and in themselves once all the noise is cleared away.
“OK, wonderful, but how do I turn THAT into a business?” That thought plagued me every time I’d try to stay open to the natural evolution of what I was building. Then the realization that these gaping needs I was seeing matched my own skills and abilities came. I am an empath, an optimist, a big-picture thinker and a straight shooter. Yet still the voice returned, this time losing her patience …. “OK, wonderful, but how do I turn THAT into a business?”
This was a painful process filled with A LOT of fear that took a lot of people and a huge heap of faith to work through. Then the truth came. I’ve realized over the last few months that this consultancy will only be successful by doing two things: 1. Letting go and 2. Honoring my talents. The first one has been hard. It comes from decades of traditional agency teachings that made me believe I had to help my clients within the walls of the traditional framework of being a strategist. Letting go of that was terrifying because the presence of something, even if it’s wrong for you and your customers, is more comforting than vast open nothingness. (I’ve since learned to embrace that open nothingness as the BEST place to play, create and solve real problems without boundaries). The second one was even harder, but for similar reasons. The things I can help a company accomplish -- well, they aren’t talked about very openly in a capitalist market. Telling CEOs to focus on actionable values instead of profit? Building empathy in leaders? Workshopping corporate self-awareness? Branding through mindfulness? I mean really, what kind of quack was I anyway?
On Monday I read in Forbes that country’s most powerful group of CEOs, the Business Roundtable, came together to proclaim that profit is no longer the sole measure of success. That ‘creating societal good, employee satisfaction and ethical management’ are the new priorities for business. I instantly zoomed to myself a year ago, sitting with my amazing colleague and VP of Strategy writing the words on the homepage of our website “Values are The New Bottom Line.” What I remembered about that moment was this: even though I believed in what we are building, and knew business would need help figuring out HOW to meet the demand of purpose – I had the exact same fear: “Who writes those words?” “What kind of quack am I?” On Monday I had a good laugh about that.
A year down the road and I’m happy to report that those lessons of letting go and accepting my vision and talents have allowed us to undergo immense and important transformation. In fact, we’re working on something new that feels exactly right, that doesn’t fit into any framework and that I know will help so many people and companies. I am excited to share more over the coming months. For now, I am grateful for the surprises and excited for year two!