Early Impressions on the Road from Verizon Executive to Becoming an Entrepreneur
As the regular readers of my blog know, I’ve recently left my job as a Verizon Wireless executive to pursue my entrepreneurial dream. I’ve received so many wonderful notes and lots of questions about what’s next on this journey to becoming an entrepreneur, I figured there were others who were curious about this decision, but not asking.
I also imagine that a look behind the scenes of what it feels like to jump out of this particular airplane could be helpful to others in the midst of such transitions.
I would love to hear your stories of the early phases of becoming an entrepreneur as well!
Q&A On Early Transitions to Becoming an Entrepreneur
So here are your “asking for a friend” questions, answered.
Question: What’s your biggest surprise one week in?
Answer: My new boss is a handful.
Her heart’s in the right place, but she’s hard to keep up with. Her passion is contagious, but, to be honest, sometimes it just wears me out.
I think sometimes she forgets we’re just a small team. I’ve tried to explain, but she’s got this new entrepreneurial spirit thing going. Not sure she’s listening.
You see, the tricky part is, my new boss is me. I’ve become the boss I wish I had, and I’m swimming in imperfection.
I suddenly have a new realization of what it must have been like to work on my teams all these years. I’m having flashbacks to what one of my direct reports said after working with me in a new gig for a few weeks. “Yikes, we’ve been running so hard, my watch is spinning around on my wrist from all the weight I’ve lost ;-)”
Back then, I took it as a joke and a compliment. We were having fun and had great momentum. But maybe, this sweet Southern gentleman was also kindly trying to tell me to slow down, that I was creating a cloud dust of deliverables that were hard to keep up with.
A week into being my own boss, I’m experiencing what my own teams have felt from me: impatience, extreme focus on results, and lots of work.
It’s a humbling exercise to be the visionary AND the one who must execute.
I’ve got more to-dos than I can possibly do.
Question: Did you leave Verizon because you hit a glass ceiling?
Verizon leadership goes out of its way to develop and promote women. I have been surrounded by amazing women and men mentors and examples over the years, and continue to have these supportive people in my life. I left from the right box on the grid.
If I hit a ceiling, it can better be described as an authenticity ceiling of my own making.
I have very strong leadership values which I stick to.
It became more important for me to lead in the way that I felt most compelled to lead than to organize my leadership around what would best position me for the next level.
Question: Aren’t you scared?
Answer: Of course.
Entrepreneurship is highly personal. There’s no one to blame but me when things go south. Every swing and a miss makes me sad. But the base hits are worth it. But besides all that, it came to a point that I was more frightened of the consequences of not doing what I felt most called to do, than of not succeeding trying.
I don’t want to leave this world contributing less than I should. I resonate with Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on innovation. It’s starting to feel that I’m supposed to be responding to things happening through me. That’s hard to ignore.
Question: What are your first steps?
Answer: Head clearing, strategic planning, website/video development, building on partnerships, and book launching.
Honestly, I need some unwinding. I’m mixing in some yoga and kickboxing with strategic planning and other work. I am resisting the urge to do too much doing until my priorities and strategy are solid. With that said, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of other leadership thinkers and writers in support of my first book launch.
I’m spending a lot of time in interviews, podcasts, and other media responses. That’s been a BLAST.
Question: What’s the focus of your new company?
Answer: Helping grow human-centered leaders through very practical tools and techniques.
The new website coming in early May will share the whole story stay tuned.
Question: Do you have other books in the works?
Overcoming An Imperfect Boss is tapas. It will be an exciting 2 years.
Question: Will the Let’s Grow Leaders blog still serve as an interactive community?
Answer: You bet!
Only stronger. We have many new subscribers, and more people joining the conversation. Amen. If you’ve never shared a comment, join the fun. It’s much more exciting to be involved.
2021 Update on the Journey
If you’re reading this article in 2021 or beyond, it’s been quite a ride!
- We’ve added a love story and merger to the mix
- We’ve grown over 10,000 leaders in fourteen countries.
- Our philanthropic work, Winning Wells, is making an impact in Cambodia with well over 100 Winning Wells in the Ground
- Our team is expanding as the business has thrived through the pandemic, thanks to our amazing clients who are committed to continuing to make growing human-centered leaders a priority.
- We now have five books, including our latest, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers and Customer Advocates.
- We’ve found additional ways to serve our tribe through my Asking For a Friend show, and David’s Leadership Without Losing Your Soul Podcast.
- We’re grateful for this wonderful, continued entrepreneurial journey.