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I Have Finally Arrived.. Or Rather, Arryved

So, after my long, lovely, and let’s not say once-in-a-lifetime, because having now had a “sabbatical,” I can say whole-heartedly, they are *worth* it- I am thrilled to head back to work today. Whooo-hooo!!

Ready for the day!

Ready for the day!

I talked about the why’s of my decision to head back to work in an earlier post. I also wrote about what I wanted to do and tried to be as honest and direct as I could, particularly with myself. Turns out that was a good strategy- shortly after my post, I had a gaggle of folks reach out to me with offers, leads, or just encouragement. It was a fantastic response and I was flattered and humbled by it. I spoke to people about a variety of really compelling roles, but one stood out in particular.

I am joining a growing, top tier, management consulting firm called Arryve, based in Bellevue, as Director of Business Management and Operations. For those who have worked with me, that title should sound familiar- it’s exactly what I love to do and excel at. The role is primarily an internally-focused leadership role, though I hope and expect to work with our customers and represent the company externally as well.

Now, you may be asking, why a consulting firm? Why not Amazon, a start up, or back to Microsoft? Looking at all the opportunities, I thought primarily about three things: People, Culture, and Opportunity. I am excited to join Arryve for myriad reasons, but chief among them are:

– I know and respect the founders of the firm, along with many of their current and former consultants. In fact, I have worked with them as peers, hired them to work for me, and have carefully watched their track record over the last five years.

– There is great opportunity for growth- for me professionally and for the firm.

– Management consulting is at it’s core, a service, and from the first time I waited tables, I was hooked on providing the best possible service and experience.

– Arryve’s core values align closely to my own- employ top notch people, provide superior service, always be striving to improve, act with integrity and respect, and have a great time along the way. Take your client’s needs seriously, not yourself.

The only damper on my excitement is the recognition that by choosing this “door,” there are others I will not to go through. Every choice we make in life leaves other ones we did not take and that’s always hard for me. It’s part of my nature to see the opportunity in everything and it’s particularly hard for me to turn down former colleagues and folks I admire. There may be a silver lining though, given that Arryve is a consulting firm, we are for hire and would love to work on whatever thorny, complex, only-the-best-will-do challenges you are facing.

Finally, I’d like to thank my family, friends, and colleagues for their support on this journey- it has been amazing and I couldn’t have done it without the many kind words, coffees, and pep talks I received! It may sound funny, but I’m also so grateful to myself that I was brave enough to plunge into the unknown five months ago. I know too well that I could still be sitting where I was, unhappy but safe, saying, “What if? What if?” (Now, the question is, does this strike a chord for YOU?)

And yes, I will continue blogging about work, family, technology, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Stay tuned. Suggestions welcomed!

Game On! Let’s Do This!

When I rather abruptly left the workforce back in late March, many of my colleagues and friends were stunned- “Jennie, NOT working?!”  That’s like the moon telling the earth, “Meh, I don’t feel like revolving around you today.”  It was hard to imagine, even for me, and I think more than a few wagers were laid on exactly how long I would go before cracking under the pressure of all that downtime.

This one remains a mystery.

This one remains a mystery.

Well, unlike the question of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop, I have an answer for you-  3 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days.

On Tuesday, I knew my halcyon days were over.  I dropped the kids off, worked out, had lunch, and then came home and took a nap.  It was that damn nap that did it.  It was decadent, luxurious, and completely ridiculous.  What am I, 80?!  I don’t need a nap in the middle of the afternoon on a freaking week day.  Next thing you know, I’d be insisting on breakfast in bed like I was part of Downtown Abbey.  I have loved every single minute of my “sabbatical,” particularly the time with my girls and Tony, but it’s time to get moving.  Game Over, baby- or better yet, Game On!

So, the job hunt starts today and here’s what I am looking for.

Something to Believe In– I need to work for a company where I believe in “what we are selling.”  Whether it’s a non-profit, the latest technology, financial services, or gaming and entertainment- if I can’t get personally invested in what we are doing, I’m not interested.

Good Peeps–  I want to work where people and relationships matter, not just for the functions they fulfill.  Thinking back, I am in touch, and often still friends with, managers and colleagues from every professional job I have ever had.  We will spend too much time together to not respect and like one another.

The Work–  There are two primary types of roles that I feel bring out my “super powers”- running business operations and executive chief of staff.  Years ago, I would have said my ultimate goal was to be Ballmer’s chief of staff.  I don’t think that particular role is going to work out (just a hunch), but I love being surrounded by really smart people that I can learn from, challenge, above all- bring out the best in.

A Puppet Master to aspire towards!

A Puppet Master to aspire towards!

I had a Corporate Vice President call me “The Puppet Master” once, and it’s true- I love working behind the scenes to get parties aligned around strategy, vision, and execution.  It’s a role that I believe makes the difference between mediocre and phenomenal performance- and when it’s top leadership, that performance level affects the entire company.  It’s a role that requires tact, integrity, emotional intelligence, and a certain degree of toughness.  I read a lot of WWII history and swoon at the mention of Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Winston Churchill’s Chief of Staff and closest advisor during the war.

That being said, I am incredibly versatile, which (I hope!) makes me such a valuable asset- if you need someone to jump in and sort out marketing, bridge a gap with finance, or help a product team find their way, I’m on it.  That same versatility extends to the startup environment- I am adept at “figuring it out as we go” and think of ambiguity and risk as attributes of a role, not detractors.  Heck, I’d love to try my hand running HR sometime- it’s a messy, ambiguous function but deals with a company’s most interesting and valuable asset- the people.  For a full run-down on what I’m good at, check out my LinkedIn Profile.

Size Matters–  It’s not so much the size of the company but the ability to have real impact.  It was one of the things that finally pushed me out of my last role, feeling like we were hopelessly stuck in a rut.  The harder we spun as a business, the deeper we mired ourselves in mud- and in that case, the problem was endemic to the system and far beyond my ability to fix.

Balance–  For me, work is part of life, so it’s not as easy to define as 40 or 50 hours a week but I value the lessons I have learned over the last 3 1/2 months about preserving balance in life.  I love a hectic pace but it can’t just be a bunch of crazy-making for it’s own sake.  Further, if a company is pushing its people to work 80/hrs a week consistently, something is *wrong*.  You can’t sustain your best people on that type of pace.

Location, location, location–  I am open to working most anywhere, though it’s going to take a lot to pry us out of this region.  We love our home, the Pacific Northwest, and our friends- so it had better be job of a lifetime if it involves a relocation.  I also enjoy traveling for work, but wouldn’t consider a job where the travel exceeded 20%.

Duckets–  I want to compensated commensurate to my experience, talent, and contribution to the business.  The numbers will take care of themselves.

I had a career coach friend of mine, when I shared what I was looking for, respond, “You need to be more specific.”  Well, I have always thought that my adaptability was one of my greatest strengths, so let’s talk!  It’s not that I don’t know what I want, it’s that the elements that make up the role are far more important to me that the specific title or function.

Finally, I’d like to ask my colleagues and friends for their help.  If you would do me the great favor of connecting me to people or recruiters that I should talk to, endorsing me on LinkedIn, or best of all- talk to me about an opportunity that you are aware of, I would be incredibly grateful.

Thank you so much for your support over the last few months!  This has been a hugely

Success Kid says it all!

Success Kid says it all!

happy and satisfying time and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  In particular, I am so grateful and lucky to have such an awesome partner- who’s had my back 100%.  Love you, T!

What’s that you say?  What about my writing and my book?  Oh, THAT.  Well, I am going to keep up my blog- I love it and have found it to be a rewarding and satisfying outlet creatively.  I am still working away on my book, but it is surprisingly lonely work and being that solitary is not something I enjoy devoting myself to full-time.  I have been tossing around the idea of publishing “Charles Dickens” style and posting chapters on my blog as I finish them- sort of the best of both worlds.  What do YOU think?

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