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The Game-Changing Power of a Pivot

Filed Under: Business | Podcast | Strategy
Date Published: March 3, 2020
By: Claire

Sometimes we feel like we need a change in our life but most of the times we don’t realize it could be pivoting our business.

Or even sometimes we are afraid of making a change in our career because, why should I change if this is working fine, right?

But we know deep inside that is not and we are not sure about what we should do.

On today’s episode, Claire will talk about the pivots she has made and how they have helped her to shape and grow the business she has today.

Maybe you need a pivot too, join Claire to understand and decide whether a pivot is the right decision.

Listen to find out:

  • Why it is okay to pivot if you feel you need a change.
  • How to decide if pivoting is the change you need or not.
  • Ways to identify the right pivot for you.
  • How a different activity may suits you better before pivoting.
  • How trusting your feelings is the best way to lead you to a change.

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Transcript of this episode:

Do you ever get that deep down, gut wrenching feeling that something is not right? 

No matter how hard you try to suppress it, it just won’t go away. 

Maybe it’s time for you to take a pivot. 

In this episode, we’ll talk about the career pivots I’ve made and how they’ve helped me shape and grow the business I have today. Will also go into how to decide whether a pivot is the right decision for you and to identify the right pivot for where you are in your business and your journey.

Over the last nine years, I’ve worked in innovation teams across industries including research, manufacturing, retail and technology. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly when it comes to innovating for customers. And now I alongside my guests, I’m sharing these learnings with you, to help you avoid the mistakes and capitalise on the learnings to grow your business with innovation. 

This is the innovation and business podcast. 

So, are you ready to learn about the power of the pivot? I hope so, let’s dive on in. 

So my career is one of many pivots. If you have seen my LinkedIn profile or you know me personally at all, you will know that I have had a lot of different types of jobs. So I started my professional career. Actually, if I’m honest, I started my professional career, giving horseback rides to children at the local farm park where I worked. I am happy to say that I am no longer in any way involved in the horse industry. But I then worked in waitressing and in various pubs, as many young people do, and something I recommend all young people do, you’ll learn a lot about humanity. And then after university, I started my true professional career as a chemist working in a research innovation team for a Global coatings company. 

I then moved to work at Amazon. And I was working in sales and marketing branding operations. It basically in a role that gave me an end to end visibility of every part of running an e-commerce business, and working with Amazon, from operational through to marketing. So that was an interesting pivot that I took, really because I wanted to learn more about business and more about how to run a business. 

Working in chemistry and working in research had taught me a lot about project management. It taught me a lot about innovation and identifying technologies. But now I felt like I was missing the fast paced and I was missing the business side. 

After a few years working in this branding and sales role at Amazon, I then decided to pivot again and focus more towards my passion, which at the time and is still now the case but it moved towards technology. So I moved to a much more tech focused role. And that was where I first got exposed and truly exposed to the machine learning and AI technology and how that was having an impact on the Amazon business and the work that I was doing. So I found this fascinating as again, those of you who know me will already know, and decided to really dive deep into understanding that technology more. And this was kind of where my next pivot came, which was to start my own kind of side of business, teaching other people about AI technology, and building up my understanding of programming and all of the skills associated with that. 

I did that for a while alongside my main job at Amazon and was loving it for a while. But then I started to kind of become disillusioned, I realised that this wasn’t going to be a sustainable way for me to build up my career. And to be honest, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I had when I was first learning and first kind of growing in that space. So I took my next pivot.

And that was really kind of, in many ways, a pivot back to what I’ve been doing originally, which was looking at new technologies, and looking at innovation. And I started to do innovation consulting. And that’s actually what I’m doing now. And I’m loving it. And it’s great to work with lots of different clients, and use the skills that I learned across all of my different types of roles to really help other people build up their businesses and build up their revenue. 

So I take a lot of the lean project management and innovation technology skills that I took from my role as a research chemist, I take a lot of the branding sales operations experience that took from my first role at Amazon. I use my understanding of technology and how to apply it successfully in business from my next role within Amazon. And I use all of the skills that I learned from working with people, working with clients outside of all internal to one business from doing my own thing. And I use all of these different skills and all of the things I learned from my various pivots in my own business now. 

So that’s a quick story about me. And as you can probably tell from the way I talked about this, I am a real believer in pivoting. I don’t believe that any one of us kind of falls into this one bucket of career that we should just do for the rest of our lives. 

If you find that one thing that keeps you motivated and keeps you going forever, and you’re happy to stay in that one space, then I’m excited for you. But even within that, I’m sure you’ve kind of pivoted, at least to some extent within your niche and within how you’re looking at things and how your understanding has evolved about different technologies and different aspects of the business. And that is what’s allowed you to kind of stay fresh and bring new experiences and new skills to your role. 

So yes, big fan of the pivot. 

But I think a lot of people struggle when it comes to determining what’s the right decision and what’s the right pivot. And it can be quite scary because you’re going from somewhere where potentially you’re the expert to starting fresh again and not knowing and not being the expert, but I want you to remember that you always bring those skills and experiences from your previous roles in your life into your new role and that’s kind of what makes you so stand out. And that’s what makes you so good at it. 

So if you’re feeling like maybe it’s time to pivot within your business or within your career, then I’m going to spend the rest of the time I have with you on this podcast talking about how to make that decision and how to think about your pivots and pivoting within your career.

So the way I would decide whether I need a pivot is not the most technical way, and I know I talk about myself as a tech person and a data person. But I’m also very into intuitive and I’m listening a lot to my intuition.

And for me, that’s when you know, it’s time for a pivot. 

You start to get that feeling, that feeling that something’s not quite right. You see the data and it’s just not looking as good as before or you feel like something is missing. So, it’s looking like it’s not going to be sustainable in the long term and you want to understand why. Maybe the role isn’t filling your cup anymore. So this is one that’s a big one for me. I need to be in a place that gives me energy and fills up my creative energy so that I can be successful and can bring my best and most innovative self to a role. And I think for you listening really think about whether what you’re doing is filling your cup or emptying your cup. People can’t run on empty cups, you need to at least be most of the time ideally, but definitely some of the time working on things that are filling your cup, helping you build a sustainable business and making you happy. Because if you’re not filling your cup, ultimately you’re going to burn out and you’re not going to feel good and everything’s not going to be sustainable, and in the long term will probably fall apart. So what if your job is not filling your cup of the company direction is not filling your cup, maybe you need to think about pivoting. 

Is the area of your focus on not delivering? Maybe you’ve prioritised the wrong thing. Everyone does this, like, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe the idea that originally the data was saying was really good is no longer the right one. And you need to pivot to be able to gain more traction and to be able to really focus on the areas of your business that are growing and are driving value so that you can make a sustainable, sustainable business for yourself. 

So if all of those things in all of those different points, or at least one of them are sounding like where you are right now, maybe it is time to pivot and now you need to think about how to identify the right pivot.

Now, as much as I think pivoting can feel like a quick decision and like it hasn’t been much thought about. I really recommend that you take your time when it comes to deciding on where and how to pivot within your business and within your professional career. You want to make sure that you really understand the decisions and the trade offs that you’re making in order to facilitate this pivot. And those kind of things require time, you are not in a rush. If it is the right thing to do, it will be doable. Whether you do it today or tomorrow or next week. Don’t feel like you need to make an on the spot decision, change everything and just run with it. 

Take the time to understand what you’re doing, what you want to do, and how this all fits within your overall business strategy. 

So think about what are the trends that you’re seeing in your business and with the data. What are your customers saying? What does your team think? Are there any team members that have flagged issues to you that you think are because of an underlying issue that you may want to pivot away from. 

And then finally, what sparks joy? What do you love doing? I’m not Marie Kondoing this podcast, but what do you love doing within your business? And what really fills your cup and makes you happy and drives value for your customers? And how can you do more of that? What needs to be in place to do that?

So before we go on to our final tip for today, around pivoting, I wanted to just touch on a little thing that I heard a lot about through another podcast that I listened to, that’s called the creative pet podcast. And it’s great, I like to listen to podcasts outside of my industry to kind of get a more rounded opinion and viewpoint on running a business and innovation as a whole and creative pet talk is one of those. But on this podcast, they talk a lot about side quests. And this has kind of sparked something in me, which is like maybe your pivot is a side quest. Sometimes, as much as you don’t want to be that person that’s always following the new and shiny thing, and trying to pick up everything and flitting about with all the different possible options. Sometimes, when you’ve thought about it well, when you’re seeing some data that supports it, when you’ve got that real strong feeling that this is the right thing to do. You can pivot into a side quest. So, side quests can be good, side quests can help you refocus and get your strategy. And when I talk about side quests, maybe this is just this mini project that you want to explore for a few months, looking at this new technology. Like maybe you want to experience and understand what artificial intelligence can do for your business. So you’re going to spend a few months doing that. Now initially, you don’t know it’s a side quest. Maybe you think this is going to be the big Long Term strategic direction for your business. But then once you’ve spent some time, looking through all the data, understanding the technology and more detail, you realise actually, that’s not something you need in your business right now. And it’s not the right thing. And that side quest is complete. And you can now go back to doing what you were originally doing happy and safe in the knowledge that you’ve explored all the potential options. 

In this situation this would be what I would class as a side quest. And this will be a useful activity for you to kind of understand and kind of fill your cup a little bit and work out your overall big picture strategy for your business. 

So, while you don’t want to try everything, like I said before, maybe just trying out some of these different pivots and these different side quest can be a good thing for your business. And the knowledge you bring back is going to help you grow sustainably and securely in the future. 

So, the fifth and final thing I want to talk about today is you need to trust your intuition. I think as business leaders and founders, CEOs, all of the titles, it can be very easy to get kind of lost in a wave of other people’s opinions, strategies, and different techniques that have worked in other businesses, -so that definitely going to work in yours- and lose track a little bit of what made you successful in the first place, and how you kind of got to the point where you’re at. 

And so I really want to encourage you to bring it back and trust your intuition. 

How did it feel when you were first setting up your business? How did some of these different ideas feel in your mind? Where they exciting you? Are you getting those same kind of feelings when you’re thinking about this new potential pivot within your business? Does it sound good? Does it feel good? Is it something you’re interested in doing and exploring a bit more? 

And trust your intuition and if it’s the right thing, and you can support it within your business, while continuing to grow and sustainable way, then go for it. Try that pivot and make sure that you’re exploring any potential opportunity in a way that feels good to you and feels right for where you are right now. 

Also, remember that these kinds of things a two way doors that you can go through the door, look at this new technology realise that oh my god, no, I definitely don’t want to go through that door. Through that door there is a monster. What am I going to do? Why did I make this decision, but actually this is a two way door so you can go back through. You are not forced to continue and just stick with something just because it looks good for a time being. You don’t have to stay with it forever. 

Now, obviously, this gets a little bit more difficult if you’re working in a team and you need to make sure everyone is aligned. And you’re not doing things that are going to make it difficult for your team to get their work done or for your clients to understand where your business is going and how they can work with you in the future. But two way doors will allow you to pivot and innovate and work on things within your business in a way that is more fulfilling and is more innovative for you and for your team. 

So trust your intuition, and remember that you’ve got this. 

So that concludes today’s kind of episode on the power of the pivot. I want you to take away from this that pivots are powerful, and they can be a really great thing for your career and helping you shape your business into something unique and innovative in a way that no one else can. 

I want you to remember though, when you are thinking about a pivot, really think it through, understand what the trade offs are, know why you’re doing this and what you expect to get out of it. Make sure that regardless of the outcome of your pivot, you are taking some learnings from it so that you can bring those back to the business even if it’s not successful. 

Make sure that you are backing yourself and trusting your intuition. Make it easy and visible for your team, of course to understand what you’re doing, so that they can feel involved and engaged and aren’t overworked, managing or picking up extra pieces for you to be able to pivot. 

But make sure that you still are able to use your intuition to push yourself forward and to try new things. 

Finally, remember that it’s okay to have fun in business and to enjoy what you’re doing, and to really be engaged with that. So make sure that you’re making the most of these fun adventures and side quests that you can have within your business, as an entrepreneur, and as a CEO in a small business where you can be more agile and you can be more open to new technologies and new ideas. 

So that concludes today’s episode, tune in next Tuesday for top of inspirational innovation stories and techniques. Next week, we’re going to be discussing removing blockers to innovation. So, make sure you tune in then.

Please subscribe to the podcast on your podcast provider so you don’t miss an episode. And if you have time, please leave a review as it helps other people to find the podcast and it helps me get great guests for you.

That’s it from me this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and I’ll see you again next week.