The Knitty Gritty

"1% fancy, 99% not always fancy."

"1% fancy, 99% not always fancy."

Q: "Explain how you became an "International Strategy and Execution Advisor", that sounds pretty fancy - you must have gone to school for years and speak a dozen languages?"

NC: "To mis-quote Thomas Edison, '1% fancy, 99% not always fancy.' It really started when graduating college. I took a leap applying for a job in Washington DC that was looking for someone willing to travel 70% of the time and who spoke Japanese, German or Portuguese. I spoke none of those... but threw my hat in the ring, got the job, and spent the next six years working my butt off, but having a rip-roaring good time. I still remind myself to not be afraid, throw my hat in the ring, what's to lose?"

Q: "What are some of the challenges you've faced in your career? And what have been some of the most rewarding moments?"

NC: "I'll start with rewarding: I get to meet people from all over the world. We share meals (and beer) together, I get a small sense of their lives, and I learn so many other ways to live, to do business, to communicate, and to partner.  When I think back to all the adventures I've shared with my international colleagues - biking among historical sites in China, scuba diving my way across SE Asia, skiing in Austria, and of course getting lots of business done (I promise!), I have to admit, I do have the best job in the world.  

Challenging? That's always managing the preference of US companies' instincts to do business 'our way', which doesn't work for every market. To truly be effective, it needs to be 60% our way + 40% localization. But honestly, working through that balance is equally rewarding as we always learn something, as do our partners overseas. As long as the willingness and some flexibility is there, good business and good relationships can be built."

Q: "What made you decide to venture out on your own, leaving the security of being a brand 'employee' and were you afraid of making such a drastic change?"

NC: "I was terrified! But when I drew a straight line of companies for whom I've worked, from $5Bn to $2Bn to $100M on down, I found I truly enjoyed working with smaller, more entrepreneurial, more nimble companies. I'm also fortunate to get to pick the teams with whom I work, which is really important to me. Socksmith is a perfect example: still owned by its fantastic founders, incredibly smart and entrepreneurial, making beautiful product people love, but above all else caring and always doing the right thing with a sense of family from end to end. OK, I'm tearing up now."

Q: "You're a wife, a mom and a successful business woman, none of which are easy, even by themselves. So what drives you and is there anything else you'd like to add to an already seemingly endless day?"

NC: "Please, please, keep going I never get enough of that stuff! Just kidding... I was recently thinking about this and how my motivation may sound as if it's changed, but at the core it hasn't. I used to be overly intense in work, maybe working more urgently but not as effectively. These days I focus on what I can do to be most effective in building the business for long-term sustainability - less about what is the squeaky wheel of the day, and more trying to move the ball forward every single day.

I also try to be a positive role model for my two sons. They have two working parents and respect my husband's and my work equally. They are also two fantastic salespeople at the Socksmith pop-up shop we run, which our family looks forward to every year. It becomes a family endeavor, and I love hearing their suggestions and getting them involved. They're also learning to negotiate...maybe too well.  

Add? More exercise and more outside time!! Oh, and more chocolate chip cookies."

Q: "If you were speaking to a group of people who were looking for advice, perhaps considering international business, finance or whatever, what would you tell them?"

NC: "Not sexy advice, but I'd say think realistically what you need to support yourself, your family, and your community. Then do the legwork, talk to folks in areas you're interested in to get the real story, intern to get real work experience to 'test it out before you buy', then take the leap and throw your hat in the ring even for things that seem slightly beyond your grasp - never know where it will land. One step begets the next."

No Comments

Post Comment

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published