The Courage to be Agile and Pivot

The Courage to be Agile and Pivot

My morning routine gives me comfort. I get up at the exact same time almost every day. My coffee maker is set to turn on 15 minutes earlier, so I go downstairs, pour my coffee and fill my 1-liter water bottle. I then head to my home office and get oriented for the day’s activities. 

After about 40 minutes, my coffee cup and water bottle are empty. Then, it’s time to get ready for some exercise. That lasts for about an hour, after which comes the remainder of my tasks to prepare for the day prior to the stampede of our four soon-to-awaken children. 

And so on. 

These are comfortable routines; they are generally productive habits. 

But sometimes habits can become too comfortable. We can stick to routines for the sake of sticking to the routine—when in fact, change is necessary. 

For example, 

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How a Startup Revolutionized its Meetings

How a Startup Revolutionized its Meetings

Some parts of life are easy to dislike. World hunger and terrorism come to mind.

For many people, so do workplace meetings.

But the startup Gild Collective—comprised of three cofounders, Jessie Deye, Kelsey Pytlik, and Rachel Bauer McCreary—has realized that meetings can not only be helpful, but they can be essential for driving alignment and productivity.

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The Agile Startup Week 20: Chicago and New York City

The Agile Startup Week 20: Chicago and New York City

This past week, Gild Collective (yes, that’s “Gild,” not “GILD” due to a recent branding decision) was on the road. 

For the first part of the week, they were in Chicago and met with a venture capitalist to discuss potential funding opportunities, along with participating in other programs facilitated by The Brandery, the Cincinnati-based business accelerator from which Gild Collective is now a graduate. 

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The Agile Startup Week 19: The Pitch Video Unveiled!

The Agile Startup Week 19: The Pitch Video Unveiled!

During the past few weeks, I’ve mentioned GILD Collective’s pitch at Demo Day, the Oct. 7 event that culminated the Cincinnati-based startup’s time in The Brandery’s formal accelerator program.

I mentioned how I thought it went quite well—acknowledging, of course, that I’m not an unbiased judge of that. (Meaning that I’m part of the crowd that wants to see GILD Collective succeed.)

Without further ado, therefore, I’ll let you watch their pitch and judge for yourself.  (Photo credit: Zackariah Cole Photography.)

Here it is.  

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The Agile Startup Week 18: Aligning for the Next Phase

The Agile Startup Week 18: Aligning for the Next Phase

Last week, I reported how the GILD Collective team went through one of its biggest milestones to date: Demo Day. This was their opportunity to pitch their business to potential investors as the culmination of their journey with The Brandery, a top-notch business accelerator in Cincinnati. In my post last week, I mentioned how GILD Collective CEO Jessie Deye knocked that pitch out of the park. 

I’m fortunate to also have gained access to some wonderful photography of the event. All of these photos (including the image above) are courtesy of Zackariah Cole Photography

To start, 

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The Agile Startup Week 17: Demo Day—Done! Now what?

The Agile Startup Week 17: Demo Day—Done! Now what?

In “startup time,” four months might be roughly equivalent to four years in an established business. That’s because a startup team is quite literally creating new products, services, and routines nearly every day. It’s a continual race toward profitability, all the while dealing with contradictory advice, unexpected obstacles and limited resources. 

Most startup cofounders—if they’re being honest—will likely admit that creating a new business is both exhilarating and depressing, often referring to the experience as an “emotional rollercoaster.” 

Four months ago was when I first started this weekly blog series covering GILD Collective, 

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The Agile Startup Week 15: Managing the Unexpected while Crafting the Brand

The Agile Startup Week 15: Managing the Unexpected while Crafting the Brand

Dealing with changes in supply and demand is tough for any business, but it’s especially difficult for a startup. That’s because startups simply haven’t existed long enough to build the infrastructure needed for managing such contingencies. 

And it’s often the case that startups have so much going on at any moment that they’re forced to learn when the unexpected is forced upon them.

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The Agile Startup Week 14: A Pivot, a Widget and a $5,000 Check

The Agile Startup Week 14: A Pivot, a Widget and a $5,000 Check

Sometimes the calendar looms larger than during other times. For example, if you had to stand up in front of a bunch of powerful people and justify how what you’ve been doing for the past 16 weeks is worthy of their attention and money, you’d be keenly aware of the date of that presentation. You’d be thinking about it considerably; it’d always be in the back of your mind.

So it is for GILD Collective, the crafting-industry startup that’s pioneering a better way for women to get together and create something beautiful in a fun, confidence-boosting experience.

The date they’re thinking about a lot these days is two weeks from tomorrow, 

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The Agile Startup Week 13: Cross-Continental Cross-Training

The Agile Startup Week 13: Cross-Continental Cross-Training

When a few people get together and found a startup, they’re trying to combine their efforts in a way that will create something new and useful for the world. Even if that something has a proven model—for example, in a franchise—the team of cofounders often must learn a great deal as they move forward. They have to push through the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) that surrounds them. 

In that process, tasks and responsibilities often get divided based upon people’s skills or knowledge. That makes sense. But over time, it can lead to a brittle structure if one person’s absence creates a dangerous vacuum.

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The Agile Startup Week 12: Iterating Toward Scalability

The Agile Startup Week 12: Iterating Toward Scalability

Going big or going small—that’s a question many entrepreneurs deal with frequently.

For startups that are “going big,” that means they need to focus on scalability, or making their business work in such a way that it can grow quickly and make money along the way. For startups that are more about providing an alternative to employment elsewhere for the founders, this isn’t a major concern. Neither approach is inherently better than the other, but they’re quite different. 

Being part of the Cincinnati-based business accelerator The Brandery, GILD Collective is in the “going big” camp.

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The Agile Startup Week 11: Experimentation and Learning, VUCA-Style

The Agile Startup Week 11: Experimentation and Learning, VUCA-Style

This week, as evident in the average ratings below by its three co-founders, was one of considerable volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) for GILD Collective. After a bit of a reduced perception of VUCA in Week 10, the team had an interesting Week 11 as part of the Cincinnati-based business accelerator The Brandery, to say the least.

A big part of their increased VUCA this week was likely due to their increased emphasis on testing new ideas in their market while simultaneously maintaining current operations.   

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The Agile Startup Week 10: Tackling Today, Planning for Tomorrow

The Agile Startup Week 10: Tackling Today, Planning for Tomorrow

Every business—and every leader, for that matter—has to balance getting today’s work done while ensuring the foundation is in place for a secure tomorrow. In what I think of as “startup time,” however, all of that has to take place seemingly all the time, and everything happens and changes very quickly. And in startups that are looking to scale significantly like GILD Collective, that process is even more aggressive. 

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The Agile Startup Week 9: Events, Publicity and Managing Momentum

The Agile Startup Week 9: Events, Publicity and Managing Momentum

The past two months have been ones of considerable turbulence for the GILD Collective team, as they’ve taken their business concept and started to turn it into a reality. Now that they’re more than halfway through their program at the Cincinnati-based startup accelerator The Brandery, one would hope that they’ve started to build some momentum. 

And it seems like they have. 

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The Agile Startup Week 8: Visioning and Gaining Traction

The Agile Startup Week 8: Visioning and Gaining Traction

During the past eight weeks, the GILD Collective team has worked through myriad issues and continues to deal with considerable levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) on a daily basis. But lately they’ve been working more on visioning—clarifying what they’re about and where they want to go. They’re making considerable progress on that front, and that’s helping them gain traction and stay motivated. 

GILD Collective, being a startup comprising three female cofounders, is unusual. And that fact might be one of the keys behind their ability to differentiate themselves in the market.

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The Agile Startup Week 7: Planning the Growth

The Agile Startup Week 7: Planning the Growth

Like all startups—at least the ones that have a dose of agility—GILD Collective continues to hone its direction and workflow internally while sensing and responding to customers and advice-givers externally. Regarding the latter, the advice-givers, my various brushes with startups in the past have always left me fascinated with the process of muddling through such advice.

Namely, when you’re in a startup, people provide all kinds of advice. This is great, but it can be confusing and frustrating for the simple reason that such advice sometimes conflicts, even when all of the advice is coming from smart, experienced people. 

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The Agile Startup Week 6: Building the Bridge as You Walk On It

The Agile Startup Week 6: Building the Bridge as You Walk On It

One of the ways that we can start to understand the complexity of organizational life is through metaphors. And one of my favorites to describe the reality of leading through uncertainty is “building the bridge as you walk on it,” which comes from a good book by the same name that I’ve used as part of teaching a course on managing organizational change. 

When we’re involved with a rapidly shifting landscape, we must move ahead while at the same time creating the path forward. This lack of structure and presence of potentially befuddling ambiguity can frustrate even the best of leaders. In a startup, entrepreneurs are by definition creating something ...

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The Agile Startup Week 5: Let’s Party!

The Agile Startup Week 5: Let’s Party!

I really like data. And I like data even more when they’re used to make decisions—a process I try my best to encourage among the executives whom I consult and students whom I teach. And so that’s why there’s one seemingly small update that GILD Collective made to their homepage that I particularly like. 

It’s the button that says “Let’s Party!” 

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The Agile Startup Week 4: Marketing, Publicizing, Evolving

The Agile Startup Week 4: Marketing, Publicizing, Evolving

The continued marketing push appears to be yielding results for the nascent startup GILD Collective, which just finished its fourth week as members of the Cincinnati-based startup accelerator The Brandery. That’s important because getting the word out about your product or service is a top priority for any startup. And what most people who haven’t dealt with or been a member of a startup don’t realize is that marketing often occurs simultaneously with actually creating one’s product or service. It’s part of the reality of startup life that makes agility so important, as startup leaders must be able to sense and respond rapidly to their market.

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The Agile Startup Week 3: Branding, Selling, Learning

The Agile Startup Week 3: Branding, Selling, Learning

GILD Collective—which is Jessie Deye, Rachel Bauer McCreary and Kelsey Pytlik—just finished its third week as members of the Cincinnati-based startup accelerator The Brandery. It was another week of hard work, insights and learning. 

Here are a few key highlights from the team for this week:

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The Agile Startup Week 2: Building, Testing, Refining

The Agile Startup Week 2: Building, Testing, Refining

GILD Collective—which is Jessie Deye, Rachel Bauer McCreary and Kelsey Pytlik—has now finished its first two weeks at The Brandery, the Cincinnati-based startup accelerator program that’s helping them build their concept and brand into a scalable business. 

Here are a few key highlights from the team for this week: 

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