Playing the Pivot: A CEO’s New Journey

Nobody does anything great alone.

This old adage is stern but true. It really does take a community to do great, meaningful work. Salon-style conversations with individuals of varying backgrounds and experiences are a testament to the power of multiples, and they’re something we’re grateful to have the ability to offer.

Sarah McNally came to Studio/E for our Member Morning Series to talk about a couple challenges she’s facing as CEO of TransForm Corp, a company which helps organizations build strong brands through their people. She co-founded TransForm Corp with her father, David McNally, 10 years ago, and the company has seen plenty of success.

However, Sarah is craving a change. Her current business model is consulting, but she realized she no longer gets the energy she used to from these deep consulting dives, and instead finds energy being in front of a room. Enter the salon-style conversation, during which Sarah posed her challenges, then members of the Studio/E community asked questions to gain insight and offer up advice.

Sarah wants to do less consulting and more in-person work. She has come up with an idea, called Mindshift, which is an online tool with six modules that will take the learner through building their personal brand while aligning to the organization’s brand. With less consulting work, she can spend more time doing speaking engagements — where she gets her fuel. Her dominant questions revolved around the time, money and the balance shift this pivot would require of her.

Sarah is hardly the first person looking to make a pivot in the interest of her business. Because the conversation we had around Sarah’s challenges was valuable for her and for us, we wanted to share it with all of you.

Here are some questions the community posed to emerge details and formulate suggestions for Sarah:

Is your consulting work growing or dying?

What does your internal structure look like?

What does the tangible product look like?

How can you become a part of work-life blend?

Why did you grow tired of what you were doing?

Are you pursuing this pivot for yourself or for your business?

These probing questions led to the following suggestions:

Companies may like your online tools, but my guess is they like you a lot more. Get yourself in front of gateways to large numbers of people.

You have the ability to entertain, engage and inform (it has to be in that order, by the way). Give it away, then let the the CEOs decide to hire you — because they will.

I want to look at you, hear you talk, look at your blue toenails. If I know my employees love listening to you, I have already made my choice about which training program to do.

If you’re going to be in the personal development business, change your name and be in the personal development business.

The last thing a big company wants is their employees being their own brand (through personal development). They want their employees being the business’s brand.

You should be on every platform – Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. and posting every day.

Regarding balance shift, I suggest working 80/20. 80 to keep the doors open; 20 working on this new concept.

Re-release your dad’s book with your voice in it.

Make your new concept a priority. You can only have three priorities at any given time, and this needs to be one of them. Schedule time to work on this every single day.

Get one of your existing clients to finance this by telling them you’ll give it to them for free, or at cost, forever if they’re first-in. Then you can sell it to everyone else.

Our guess is that if you aren’t going through a pivot yourself, you know someone who might be. Please feel free to share this group wisdom with anybody who could use it.

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