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.
Exciting news. I am currently in transition, moving into a new team, with a new boss, on a completely different side of the business. I spent the last 9 years making moves throughout the company I work for, but all supporting the same product and in the same line of work. Now I feel the rush of not knowing, insecurity about joining a team where I knew no one, and I love it. I feel as though I have opened my mind back up to learning, and building new relationships and partnerships. Not nearly as daring as the move you have made, but really enjoying this transition at the same time.
Shawn, FANTASTIC! You’ve got that wonderful “jumping out of an airplane” feeling. That energy (combined with your obviously positive reaction to it) is fantastic fuel for building breatkthrough results. Please keep us posted on your journey.
Congratulations Karin! A ‘new world’ awaits you. I moved from corporate Canada to my own new world 10 years ago. What a blast! Oh yes, there have been some downs with the ups, but IMO, where there is risk there is reward. An old quote from Goethe resonated with me “whatever you can do, or dream you can…do it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” I still have that quote on my office wall and see it daily.
Enjoy this experience.
Linda, Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story. Namaste.
First I must say “I’m sorry” for not keeping up with your posts. This is the first I’m hearing of your departure from Verizon. I recently took a new and very demanding position which has lead me to let go of my normal reading / writing habits. Thats no excuse…just the truth. I hope to re-engage as time permits!
Anyway, congratulations on your new and exciting journey!
I know you are going to do big things!
Bob, I’m excited to hear about your new position. Sounds like you’ve got that “jumping out of an airplane feeling” going on too. Lots of that going around. Excellent.
I recommend you keep a “stop doing” list.
Bob, hmmmmm….. that’s a good idea.
Love this post! “My new boss is a handful…” Made me smile while it resonated! Love your humor, and authenticity! You will rock this!
Chery, Thanks so much. Inspiring from someone who is ahead of me on this journey.
Write about what you care about. Your audience will find you.
Steve, agreed… that’s a good strategy. You sound a bit like Seth Godin 😉
Well done. I look forward to reading more. I resonate to your succinct answer to the question are you scared. I reminds me of my quibble with the list about fearlessness being an attribute of a great leader. I think it’s not fearlessness, it’s courage. The difference is walking through the fear to do what you know is the right thing. You inspire many.
Bill, So agree with your view on fear…. thanks as always for contributing your insights to our community.
You are extraordinary Karin with exceptional vision, energy and drive!
Your book is amazing and great for all Millennial leaders trying to navigate their workplaces and bosses. You should feel proud.
Just take your time, breathe and pace yourself. You need to honor this journey.
All the best,
Terri, Oh, I’m supposed to breathe? Thanks for the tip. That could prove quite useful 😉 In all seriousness, I keep telling myself…. these are the good ole days to come… like falling in love, don’t over think it and honor the journey.
Hi Karen – I am so happy for you!!! I love that Elizabeth Gilbert TEDTalk too. Let me know how I can support you. Let’s set up a call.
I wanted to share some reflections on my first year as an entrepreneur (I need to probably add new learnings as now I’m in my third year!):
You will be awesome (perfection is so over-rated!). Talk soon.
Henna, Loved your post! You wisdom is FANTASTIC! We should talk. I’ll reach out. Namaste.
Congratulations on Week 1. I am looking forward to the new website coming in May 🙂
Bill, Thanks so much. Me too. I have a great team of folks kicking hard under the surface on the website design. It will be fun to see it all come together.
Thanks for sharing your doubts, uncertainties, and frustrations along with the perseverance and courage over fear. It’s always hopeful and inspiring to know our roles models are as imperfect as us.
I’ve taken up meditating using Getsomeheadspace.com and the days I do it are wonderful (I can’t explain why it’s a hard habit for me to keep daily).
Keep on truckin’!
James. What a cool site! Thanks for sharing. I feel the same about yoga, it always helps a ton! But the busier I am the (and the more I need it, the less I do it). Ugh.
I just ordered your book. Excited to read it and provide feedback on Amazon. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures.
You are deeply missed however glad to have Lets Grow Leaders to keep everyone connected.
A dream is only a dream until you decide to make it real.
Diane, Awesome. Thanks. I look forward to hearing what you think. It’s wonderful to be connecting with you here.
Karen!! Absolutely fantastic – the bounds of your job could not hold your passion; at least you are in an unlimited universe now. I can’t wait to read your book and see the website!! Stay in touch – there may be some opportunities – don
Don, Thanks so much. I would love to work with you again. Yes, yes… lets do stay in touch.
I love the direction you are going, Karin. You are an amazing writer with a message that is so important for others to hear.
I also had a bit of down time when I transitioned out of my old job. I really needed several months to focus on where I wanted to go. I had been sooooo busy at my old job that I never had time to fully focus my full attention in that direction.
I love your posts…keep them coming!
LaRae, thanks so much. Your support is inspiring.
You’ve hit all the key points;
I’m really glad to hear that you are making time to unwind. I have become a big fan of the pre-cation, paid time off before starting work at a new company. It is a way that startups can help people avoid burnout, by making sure they come in rested and refreshed. A few tips:
– Beware the bright shiny object: when there is only one of you, it is easy to get caught up in each new idea and opportunity. I have to work hard to keep pointing at the things that will bring me long term growth.
– look for ways to get help – Fiverr, elance, Craigslist. You may already be doing this. It was and is a shock to me how much of my time goes into the mundane tasks of website upkeep, making appointments, etc.
Greg, Thanks so much…. yeah there are a lot of shiny objects around 😉 I hadn’t heard of elance… I will check that out. I have some great folks at Weaving Influence helping me and they have been amazing!
Karin – Congrats on this new part of your journey! I saw your tweet tonight and jumped over here to your blog post to check out what you shared. I can so resonate with your response in the “Aren’t you scared?” section. I too want to contribute my best to society, and in the area of my calling, before my time here on Earth is complete. One thing I’m doing is to podcast for people who are stressed from work, bosses, schedules. My guests and I focus on tips for managing stress, healthy eating, finding balance, keeping fit (and I throw in a few stories from our farm to keep things light-hearted and fun). The show is for the “stressed and stretched-too-thin listener! I would love to connect with you via email/phone/Twitter, etc., and invite you to be a guest on a future podcast episode of Heartsong Fit. I look forward to checking out your book too! Wishing you all the very best. Vickie
Vicky, I would love to connect with you. I’ll send you an email. I think you and Greg Marcus (the commenter just above you) would really enjoy connecting as well. His blog is idolbuster.com
I look forward to visiting with you and will watch for you email! And thanks for the suggestion about connecting with Greg too. Have a great Thursday. Vickie
I am so happy for you! From my experience working for you I can’t think of a better fit – this is your calling!
Thanks so much MacKenzie! I appreciate your kind words. I’m surprised no one has called me to pitch an SMB account… I thought we trained them better than that 😉 Namaste.