Core Growth Participants Learn from Leaders in the Start-Up Community
Core Growth, Core Consulting’s emerging leaders program, often features guest speakers from various walks of life who share experiences and lessons learned that participants can then reflect on and take back to their own industries. Current class members are in month 6 of the program’s third installment and recently gathered at Bad Girl Ventures to hear from Nancy Aichholz, the accelerator’s Executive Director, and UpTech’s Managing Director JB Woodruff. Participants, who have all been selected by their respective companies to be in this leadership program, focused during this particular session on the importance of alignment in propelling an organization forward. Below are some bits of advice provided by Nancy and JB about the role of alignment in their professional and personal lives.
Nancy’s professional journey spans from the Director of Marketing at Chiquita to the ownership and operation of her own start-up, NanBrands (whose carrot cakes were featured in Nordstrom). This past experience led to her role at Bad Girl Ventures, supporting female entrepreneurs like herself. Having taken time off to raise her children and focus on political fundraising in between careers and starting her own business, Nancy is familiar with the importance of alignment. She recently hired her 7th employee at BGV.
-Engage the old and embrace the new
-Focus on recruitment and on-boarding to secure the right talent for your team and integrate them into the culture of your organization
-Clearly define and communicate roles at every level to avoid confusion
-Share the highest level of information appropriate to everyone involved; though this may be intuitive, it can also be mapped out
-Stay on the same page by engaging team members (with staff retreats, for example)
Now in a leadership position at UpTech, an accelerator for data-driven start-ups, JB graduated from Penn State with a degree in Information Science and Technology. After quitting as a tech consultant in 2012, he went to Kenya for 3 months to work at a startup accelerator, then spent another 3 months in Cape Town, ZA working with the same program. After this experience, he was hooked on the start-up scene and worked on his own projects before landing his current position in 2015. JB has had to juggle aligning his corporate, personal, and non-profit endeavors.
-Set your expectations and make sure they are known and understood; eliminate ambiguity
-Understand and appreciate the context of interactions; personally, culturally, etc.
-Respect the necessity of employees to feel valued
-Build trust through actions and over-delivery on promises
-Find advocates through dialogue and clarity
-Combat groupthink; bounce ideas off those outside your organization and industry
-Never make assumptions
-Stay vigilant in reporting and checkpoints so initial alignment becomes continued alignment
Core Growth participants, in hearing success stories from these two prominent leaders in the start-up community, are able to apply the concept of alignment to their own leadership roles. Learn more about Core’s emerging leaders program here. Next cohort kicks off in September!