9The Intrapreneur’s Journey to Getting Ideas Launched, with Karen Holst


Getting your idea sold, launched and love your job doing it. Welcome to the intrapreneur’s joureny. Karen Holst shares that ideas at the very end are going to be the very best version of what they should be, versus what you thought they were going to be.

In this episode Bringing a new innovation into the world as an entrepreneur has it’s host of challenges. Doing this within as an organization brings to the foreground it’s own perils, twists and dips.

If you are the kind of person who thrives on seeing ideas come into reality, Karen Holst, entrepreneur turned intrapreneur shares with us the key learnings and highlights from her book Start-Within, to making that journey.

Karen and I discuss as a Doer within an organization, what it takes to Get Ready, Get Set and Go forward to getting your idea launched.

She shares that in the end the idea in her head is going to look very different by the time it is launched. It’s going to be the best version of what it should be, versus what she thought it would be.

“What is locked up in my head may not be what it’s going to come out to be, I have to do the small experiments, share, get feedback, along the way iterate move forward and that is what all of this work looks like, its not just this idea locked up in you, and it comes out the way you believe it should, you’re involving many people you are taking many steps, and at the very end its going to be the very best version of what it should be, it won’t be what you thought it was going to be”. Karen Holst

Get in touch with at Karen Holst- https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenholst and the @ www.start-within.com.

About Karen Holst: Karen Holst is an entrepreneur turned intrapreneur. She co-founded educational technology startup MyEdu, formerly Pick-A-Prof (acquired by Blackboard), and transitioned to intrepreneurial roles within the California Department of Education, IDEO, Autodesk, and LinkedIn Learning.

From government agencies and non-profits to startups and Fortune 500 companies, Karen has worked with organizations of varying sizes and across industries to help their leadership unlock creative potential and empower their employees to innovate. Her expertise on innovation has been featured in TechCrunch, The New York Times, NPR, The Chicago Tribute, CNN, and more.

Karen currently teaches courses through LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), serves on the board of Thrive Education, and mentors entrepreneurs through TechStars and Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Program.


*This Transcript is Autogenerated

Welcome and join me today on the Hi Hello Sir podcast, where I decode and deconstruct the stories, secrets, and skills of the creators of our time. If you are looking to challenge the status quo and get new perspectives, Join me as I share with you practical advice that you can use to impact your life and help those around you today.

Hey there and welcome to the Hi Hello Sewer Show. I'm your host, Sur Al Nay. Our this episode, we are joined by Karen Holst, entrepreneur turned entrepreneur. She co-founded Educational Technology Startup. My Ed. And transitioned to entrepreneurial roles within the California Department of Education, ido Autodesk, and LinkedIn Learning.

Her expertise on innovation has been featured in TechCrunch, the New York Times, npr, just to name a few. In this episode, we are gonna be focusing with Karen as an entrepreneur within an organization. How do we bring the ideas that we're harboring to fruition within the organization so that it can create value and impact in the world?

We are gonna be getting key highlights from her, from her newly released book Start Within. Which unpacks the journey of how to get ready, get, set, and go within organizations. So without further ado, Karen, welcome to the show. Hi. Thank you. Well, thank you for being here and making time for, uh, the Hi. Hello sir.

Show and it's listeners. So let's just start at the very beginning. Can you share with some of the listeners just like a snippet of all of the amazing adventures and background, like who is Karen? Cuz I'm thrilled and I want 'em to be as excited as I am. Yeah. You know, to my core, I love solving problems and I, I even have to take a moment and, and kind of geek out that when I go to sleep at night and have nightmares to some people of like trying to solve a problem.

That I, I enjoy that , I even enjoy solving problems in my dreams. And so that is just who I am through and through and that, and that's shown up in my career. So I, I started out by co-founding an ed tech company, and after we acquired, I joined the California Department of Education, leading technology there and bringing technology into the classroom.

And then from there, went to IDEO and helped them launch products. did some work with Autodesk and other big companies and really there was a flip that happened where I was an entrepreneur and and just kind of launching my own work. And then I started doing that within bigger companies and had this moment of reflection that I didn't have to actually own the project, the idea, the thing, I just really liked solving the problems to make those things happen.

And so that was the moment where I became an entrepreneur. Amazing. Amazing. And you've, you also have the, the course as well, the, the Linda course. Is that right? Yes, yes. So I teach, um, product innovation. I do guests some universities, but also teach online through LinkedIn learning. And the first course that I taught was product innovation.

And it really goes through, If you're a product manager or someone who owns a product, all the different phases of trying to bring a new idea forward. And then from there, um, also taught a course on launching products. And right now I'm working on a, a, a course on a competitive analysis. Oh my gosh. How many clothes do you have of yourself?

Like, tell me the secret . It's fun and it's fun to do the courses because as a instructor, you, you do this work over and over and then trying to teach. Makes you learn at a deeper level. And then while I'm teaching it, I try to apply it to something I'm working on myself, having just recently launched a book.

Um, so I'm using my competitive analysis course to try to walk through what that landscape looks like again, for the book that I just launched. Oh, that's amazing. Yes, yes. Using, uh, the things that you've learned and then actually applying them, and then also the teaching that's just, you know, so fundamental.

Um, so thinking about this book, uh, what has inspired this book and, uh, you know, I, I've been reading it and I'm, so, I wish I had this book many years ago, so thank you. Ahead of time, . Yeah. Yeah. Where did this come from? So, When I had the reflection point that I liked launching new ideas within a company, you know, that was this aha moment.

Like, oh, you could actually do this. You know, I didn't know the word entrepreneurship and certainly did not see myself as an innovator. Uh, those were all words that I thought. you were assigned. Those were, those were given to, you know, a C level person and they got to own that. And everyone else here were just doing our jobs.

And it wasn't how I behaved. And so I took a, a step back and said, why, if I don't, if I don't behave that way, where is that belief coming from? And I started to talk to other people that were doing the same kind of work and finding. Where they get stuck, what roadblocks are they finding? How are they getting beyond that?

Or what words are they using and trying to push their ideas forward? And that's when I had the, the other realization that doing this kind of work. Well, it looks different at every organization and every team, even within the same company. It will look different every time you try to launch a new idea, um, it it still has the same core elements that you go through and, you know, you can intuit your way forward or you could have a thing to tell you how to do it.

And, and even if you're not doing it exactly as those steps outline it, just seeing a framework is so helpful. And, and that was the moment. Decided to write start within most of the books out there about innovating and launching new ideas within a company are geared towards creating the culture and, um, you know, how can leadership instill that culture?

And those are so, so important, but that leaves the doers and the people that are doing the work. Empty handed. If it's all top down then, then what? So it's certainly one thing to build the culture and live the culture. It's quite another to tactically get through that. And so that's where start within kind of fills in those gaps.

and that feels so empowering. That feels really, that's something tactically, I love that you use the word the doers, you know? So if I wanna grab something and you know, I really believe it in it with conviction and I wanna bring it to impact, and I'm in an organization and I look around. and, and now what?

You know, so when we step back and we think about the book, what, what are some of the struggles that entrepreneurs are facing? And, um, you know, what are some highlights in terms of like, if they're listening to this right now, they can like stok their fire to, to go forward. So I, I break up the book into three sections, ready, set, and go.

My belief is that you kind of ebb and flow between the different sections depending on where you're at in the idea whether you hit a roadblock, you might have to take a few steps back and, and reevaluate, well, were we really ready to do this in the first place? Um, so it's not a linear path that you go through, but knowing that you can dip into the different areas depending on where you're starting.

So some people are starting at this moment. I could be doing this work. I don't have a title that says, go do this. And I don't have my boss telling me you are allowed to go do this. But I really believe in this idea, bringing value to the company and being something that I'm capable of doing. And so you have to find that permission.

You have to find how you're gonna balance your, what you're hired to do day job with this moonlighting idea that you wanna to launch and make happen. Um, and then once you get beyond that moment, Now what? You know, how do I know that my organization is ready? How do I tee up the stakeholders to make sure that I'm building the right thing and that we're doing this together?

How do we collaborate together without stepping on toes? All very important in doing this kind of work. And then the last section is actually getting to do the work. So prototyping the idea and experimenting your way forward. I think a lot of this has to do with you just have to get started. And I can tell you every time I've started a new project within, even the company I've been at for.

there's a misstep along the way and you cannot make for the perfect plan and the perfect framework to not have that happen. You just have to, as you're going along the way, start to look beyond the horizon and where you're at and, and look at how it might play out, and then have everything ready so that you can react in that moment.

But you, you have to kind of take the leap of faith that things are gonna move in a direction that would, would be a positive direct. . Yeah, I think we, when we, um, teach some creativity courses, we, we say, um, You know, like if you drop the ball, like just, just pick it up and keep going. You know that it's not a perfect, you know, essence.

Uh, so, so then these individuals, they wanna see over the horizon, ready, set, go. So, uh, like what is, what is it to be ready? Yeah. And I, and I also, I wanna come back to that because something you just said sparked something for me. In the, in the creative thinking and problem solving, there's also. You, you think about how, what it feels like to learn a new language and it, it hurts your brain a little bit unless you're just one of those people that is clued into that good for you.

For the rest of us, normal people, it hurts a little bit. It's uncomfortable. It's embarrassing when your accent is so wrong and no one can understand you and, and. Getting to start, uh, speaking French for the first time as an adult in Montreal with my toddler and, and having the practice of being on a playground and getting to speak and, and not really worry about what I sound like has been the most eye-opening experience that, that uncomfortable, I don't know what.

I'm doing wrong. I don't know how this is gonna make me sound. I, you know, I wanna sound smart. Letting that go, because I'm just talking with kids, has been this empowering moment and, and teaching me the, the value of beginner's mindset and really letting go the ego and the, the perfection. You know, having written this book now, I think I have a way forward and now I think I know what I'm doing, but that will always come.

To not be true in some project in some way. And so just taking a moment and recognizing that we're all gonna start at some point with, you know, basic language, learning lessons, and then we can build to the, you know, , the deeper thinking and the, the better conversations. And, and I like that analogy just in thinking about this work because it allows you to just let go of wanting to fast forward to being the perfect.

Expert in this space because really when you're not, you start to question things and say things in a different way that others are are missing. So this is your opportunity to really key into that. Yes. That makes me think about the area where you talk about assumptions. And so the naivety is a thing that allows you to look at assumptions in a whole new.

Yes. And assumptions is an early part of the book in the, you know, getting ready because those are the blockers both to yourself doing this work, but also in your idea of flourishing within the company. And we have five layers in the book that we talk about, and it starts with you and it goes all the way out to world assumptions and.

even in writing the book, the Our World Assumptions were shooken to the core because of Covid 19, and we couldn't have, you know, I didn't predict writing about that into it and, and got to write into it because, you know, it was right around the time of publishing. We went right back to editing mode and said, we need to include this in there because, Even when you try to predict, you can't, right?

Something crazy can happen, and that can happen at any layer. And so there's an opportunity to evaluate your assumptions and, and really think about how they might affect moving forward. And, and the two things that I say in that work, one is you're never going to outline and understand your assumption.

So it's a, it's a worthless effort to think, you know, where are my biases? I'm just gonna take a note and then when I write them down, I won't have them anymore. , that's gonna lead a a few problems. One, if you don't write any down, you're gonna be like, great, I have no biases or assumptions. Everything's perfect.

Or you're gonna write some down and you're gonna think, oh, I've hit the the limit. These are the only things I need to work on. And obviously they're blindsided. You're not gonna know what they are. Um, the biggest way to overcome those are to bring diverse thinking to the table and. Nurturing those conversations.

And one of the ways that we do that in the book is bringing in a naysayer. The person that sometimes rubs you wrong, that seems to always be negative and, and they don't always feel great to work with by the way. They can be the people that you really lean in and say, if I share my idea, and they've got with arms crossed and, and shaking their head, lots of reasons why it won't work.

If I can not personally take offense to that and listen and try to absorb what some of that might mean and how to reflect on what we could do for the idea to get beyond those, that's gonna make the idea a better, you know, opportunity and me a better person. Um, so that means letting go of your. You're usually, you walk into those conversations ready to fight it, right?

Like you're gonna say no to this, and then I'm gonna tell you why you're wrong. You just have to be open and maybe you didn't get to fully explain your idea, and so your urge is to say, oh, I didn't explain this one thing. Nope. allow that person to give all the feedback. You can go back and reflect and say, well, next time I need to make sure I cover X, Y, Z, because they didn't understand that and that was where that feedback was coming from.

But that's really hard, especially when we're passionate about our ideas. And sometimes that passion, while it gets us, you know, gives us a drive, the perseverance and the grit to see it through. It also comes off sometimes, as you know, blinders. And so someone on the outside would see that as, oh, this person is just so obsessed with this idea.

They're not really seeing the whole picture. So you have to learn how to tone down your enthusiasm, depending on who you're talking to, and really lean in on some of the negativity that really resonates, especially as somebody who you know does get very excited about things and. But also wants to bring in like a kaleidoscope of thinking.

And so how, how do we stay true to the essence of the idea, knowing that at the beginning it's very fragile, so it needs that protection, but still bring, bring in and incorporate other viewpoints so that we can, um, get it ready to, you know, manifest in the organization. Yeah, I think part of it is just the mindset, knowing going into this, that your idea.

You've dreamt about it, right? You know what it looks like. You can feel it. It is not gonna look like that or feel like that in the end. Let that part go. Let that be the thing that you're running towards that feels good and that's good and fine, but it is going to destroy you. If you think you could hold onto that, it will absolutely D look different.

And if it doesn't, There was probably a step missed. You didn't include enough stakeholders. You didn't evolve the, the idea around the feedback and the insights that you were gathering. So very rarely do we have the idea fully vetted and perfect in our head and baked ready to go out of the gate. Um, so I, I think letting that go is, is one part of it.

And the other is, A huge part of getting our idea through the, the company is not just about being right, it's about listening and learning about what's important to the people in the company at large, and being able to align and sell so that it fits. It's not a forced, you know, uh, puzzle piece that you're like shoving it in there.

Instead, it's, you know, trimming around the edges. It's, it's making the right fit within the moment, and all of that just takes. Patience and reflection. And again, the diversity of conversations, you're, you're not going to walk out of any one meeting saying, I've got it, and it's gonna be the thing. You're just gonna start to connect the dots in new ways.

And so it's really important that you're, you're holding all of that and you're letting it evolve and morph as you go forward. That makes a lot of sense. And some of it, what's sparking for me is, is going back to intention, you know, because if we're back to intention, then it gives flexibility in terms of solution.

Professors, like it must be yellow . Right. You know, so I, I remember that in my negotiation as a teenager with my mom, . So you're concerned about safety, so what if I would that allow me to ? Right. Exactly. Suddenly a no became a yes. , uh, much to despair of my stepdad, , exactly like he said. You said no. And she's like, but she gave, like, she gave a good reason.

Like, that addresses my challenge. So, you know, so much of this work is thinking about the nos and finding the opportunities there in the, maybe, maybe ifs. And there is an exercise in the book that walks you through that. No, I can't do. because, but maybe if, and then when you start to think about it in that lens, it allows you to experiment and maybe if.

to find different ways forward. And that might be that your idea doesn't fit in this moment because you don't have the resources, but maybe if the experiment were, you know, less taxing or a smaller cohort of customers, you know, whatever the example might be. And I, and when you allow your idea to go through these, maybe ifs you let go of waiting for this perfect exactly as you wanted it, launching moment.

And instead you get to experiment your way. Ooh, that's such a valuable tool. What other tools can entrepreneurs bear in mind as they're going through their journey, knowing that this is an iterative process? I think one of the biggest barriers to this work is not getting. organized early, and so I, we talked about this in the book, but if you watch any of the movies that have, um, detectives in there, there's this crazy wall with tape and string and photos are kind of crumbled and falling on the ground.

And Stephanie, it means only something to the detective, right? And they look back and there's this aha moment that there's like this person over here at this place. That's what doing this work feels like. And at the very beginning, Trying to organize that is really hard cuz it's all bouncing around in your head and different conversations and different strategies that you've seen and different decks.

So you have to start to try to synthesize that and keep it in one place because you're gonna pull from it over time. And, and I teach this in the LinkedIn learning course and product innovation as well. You're creating this knowledge repository. And for me, what that looks like is I open a Google Doc, uh, slide deck and I create this beautiful front page.

Something that visually represents the idea. It feels very branded. I mean, this is like the motivation that every time I open it, I feel like my idea is real because I've branded this first slide. The second slide is a blank template of just, it's gonna be my table of contents where I'm gonna put, every time I create a new slide, I'm just gonna put it into the table of contents, you know, market research.

And then I've got some slides in there that I've been dumping from, you know, different places I've pulled from the company or CEO letter said, X, Y, Z, and I have the, you know, pull all this in so I have my deck at any point. But if I need to go back and tell the story of the idea and how it aligns with the business and who should be involved and what resources are.

I've already started to think about it by just trying to put this puzzle together and it's paid off before. I've had moments where way early in the idea, not ready to pitch it, not ready to talk about it. The the moment presented itself, you know, an executive was like, , you know, they started to lean into the idea and I, and it felt like, wow, this is my chance to start talking about it.

And having that deck and having thought about it already allowed me to move much quicker into the pitch and getting permission to do the work. So it's, it's a great exercise. It makes you get organized early on, and when you try to do it later, it feels, it feels frustrating. It feels just uncomfortable to try to make that wall make sense to other people when you just do it early on.

That's so valuable. I'm gonna start doing that. Thank you, . Yeah. Yeah. I mean it for the book too. It was, the book was the same thing. You know, I, you wanna go in there with, here's gonna be my table of contents in every chapter and every story, and once I have that outline, I'll be able to write it. That's not how I think.

I, I have these moments of inspiration and so I started to dump it in. My doc. And then as I started to look at the, the, the, the presentation, I could see how slides needed to move around and ideas were grouping together in different ways. It started to take, you know, shape for me, and, and I think there's both the, the visual moment of seeing it all in one place, but there's also the freedom that letting it, like, letting it go somewhere and live somewhere all in one place.

Easy to find. It's not a bunch of different random files saved on my desktop. It just, it's more. , it feels really organic as well. It's like the story so far is unveiling itself as you're going through your journey. And, um, you know, when I think about, uh, the journeys that I've been on, if I, if I'm too far into it, it's really tough to backtrack.

Yeah. So that feels, yeah, it's kind of like, um, like channeling, but with your documentation, a journey and things like. It's also so much of the idea, and this just came up in a conversation with someone that I talked about in the book. I had followed up to see how they were doing. Um, he's, he's with Ubisoft, which is a gaming company, and trying to figure out a way to allow each studio to innovate, but not in silos.

Right? Because they're sometimes they're doing some work that are replicating or you know, how. Bridge these ideas, and I talk about him in the book, followed up with him, and he . I said, how would you boil down the last six months in your experience and trying to do, push your idea forward? He's like, communication.

He's like, you know, it doesn't sound like rocket science for innovation that, you know, really a big part of my job is communication, but it is. It's selling it. It's getting buy-in. It's all the different layer. Getting organized allows you to articulate it in a way that you don't sound like the crazy person with a million ideas bouncing around in your head.

You can synthesize it in a way that you can very quickly say, here's what I'm thinking. What do you think? And then you can pull data in information from that. It's a crazy person. . I mean, it feels like a crazy wall in your head. That's okay. . Well, yeah, it's like, um, they had the, what was it? The, the horse and carriage and then when they were introducing the car, it was first the horseless carriage cuz it needed a bridge before people were ready.

Right, exactly. How are they gonna adopt it? So that bridge or that metaphor, you know? Um, totally. Yeah. I mean we're seeing that right now in all the changes of working from home and, and education from home. There was such an opportunity years ago to be doing more of this online and. Hesitation to wanting to do it.

You know, we like to be around people and we, you know, there's so much teachers in the classroom that's, that's where the magic is. And there might be truth in that, but we are also now faced with realities that we have to think differently. And this moment also can be, it's both challenging because you're like, let me just get through this moment and then I can go back to thinking bigger.

But I encourage people that have the idea to not. This is a chance, this is when your company needs it most, but it's also the chance for you to use this white space to start to think about how does, how does my idea play into the growth of the company and how things are moving forward. beyond this, you know, it might be that it's helping address this problem, or it might be, um, you know, against the status quo, how things used to be, whatever.

And it's, it's easy to wanna wait for that perfect moment when things are more sure that won't, that won't happen. It's always gonna feel a little bit off. And this is actually a, a great chance to do this kind of. It makes me think about, uh, beautiful constraint. Uh, you know, just this idea of what's created in moments of constraints, and this definitely feels like one, uh, and to your point, the adoption of things that people have resisted for a while.

Have suddenly become like, oh yeah, we've got this . Right? And so it reminds me of what you're talking about at the beginning. I'm like, well, we can, if you know, or what if, uh, that sort of line of thinking. So how can somebody who's so encumbered in a space? Cause I, I know that's easier for me when I'm working with somebody and I'm, I'm rather, uh, unfamiliar with their territory.

Mm-hmm. . Um, and we just, I just have this with. A client this morning when you know, like she's in the jar, so you can't see the label when you're in the jar. Mm-hmm. So how does somebody, um, like get outta the jar, so to speak, and, and see the opportunities, uh, for disruption, if you will? This is. This takes discipline.

So what I'm about to say is something I have to remind myself to do, but when you look at mentors and advisors and people that you surround yourself around, you're often attracted to people like you. They're either in a role like you or in a company like you, or have a background like you, and all of that is good and natural and part of growing.

You have to go beyond that. So where I start to do this is I look at my, I look at my LinkedIn profile and who I'm connected to, and I try to find the people that are not like me. So they have different backgrounds and different companies. They live in a different part of the world. And I reach out and I say, Hey, I'm working on this.

Is this something that you would love to talk about? I would love to hear what you're thinking about the work that you're doing. And I always get a yes. And I've had people reach out to me in the same way. connections always lead to something. And I even have a story about it in the book, A woman in IBM with b m in India.

And it, it, she was having a moment where, um, her idea wasn't clicking with engineer team. Or qa, she's trying to bridge these two teams in, in the work and the project that she wanted to do, and she wasn't selling it to the groups properly. And, and I could see this, right? It was something that I do and, and it was a great conversation.

She was like, this is something I can go do. Then I started to talk about my problem and she, something clicked with her. She's like, I've seen this too. And it was something that we each hadn't gone through on her own. So while I was many years more senior to her in my. She gave me just as much mentoring and advising that I gave her.

So it was a great relationship and I, I think that discipline of trying to find that it's easy to get comfortable in your existing network. It's easy to say, oh, I don't know anybody that can help me in that way. You have to put yourself out there. You have to just kind of take some risks, cuz some of the conversations might fall flat and not be valuable, but most of the time you will get something out.

I'm just taking notes cause like can I have, I have a to-do list after this. Karen . I know it's, yeah, I love it. . Well, I mean, just, uh, the idea of having these conversations, um, with people who are in other parts of the world who are very different to myself and it's something I subscribe to regularly, but I haven't made a discipline on it.

They, they, serendipitous they happen and when they do, I'm very grateful for them. But I actually, um, have that as a part of, um, the energy. , uh, you know, excites me and would, you know, be very beneficial. So, are there any do that is, so I try to do this around January cuz the new year for me is a, a fresh start.

But if I let it slip and didn't and it just pops in my head or, you know, later quarter, then I can do it at any point. But I sit down and I think about my current network and. I'm giving to my network and what I'm getting from it. And then I start to brainstorm. So some of it's selfish, you know, like I want to serve on a, a AI type board or whatever.

I start to think of my selfish stuff, get that out of there, and then, and then it allows me to go a level deeper. Cause I've said that stuff and, and now I can go deeper of, you know, what do I really wanna learn? Where do I wanna explore? I capture all of that. Start to put the groups together and then, A certain day of the week, a Wednesday, I put in 15 minutes to actually go do that.

And I have an ongoing list that I just copy into my calendar, invite to myself where it starts as, find somebody that does X, Y, Z, and you know, 15 minutes I found a list of 10 people, and then the next week connect to one of those people and ask them when they can, you know, so it's. Putting it in your calendar, making yourself do it even a little bit at a time.

It starts to chip away and lead to big, big opportunity. But without that, you just, you get, you stay stuck in this, I really should be doing this one day. I'm gonna work out , you know, go workout, start the with a workout plan, one step at a time. So what other habits do you have, um, that, you know, people might not know about that have really been that incremental thing that.

Had big impact for you? I'm, I'm really curious about that. That's a great question. One that I struggle with is I really believe in the tactile post-it note writing it, having it there. Right now, our self isolation is not at home. We're we, were working elsewhere and now we're staying to be safe. And I don't have my wall, I don't have all my journals, I don't have all the places.

Well, I need to move to electronic. And I've said this, I talk about it in the book. You need to be able to pull, you know, at any time you need to be able to pull it. And I, this has been a struggle for me. So I've been teaching myself all the different ways that, okay, this works. This doesn't, having it in notes, you know, that's not enough.

I need to be able to have it actionable. So I go into a sauna and my husband and I nerd out. We're such , nerdy that we're putting in our family to-dos into Asana and it, and. You know, it's the freedom of not having these little post-it notes drift off the wall, right? Or you know, this halfway etched out and scratched out because I've done some of it and then I lose it.

It, it makes it all live in one place. It doesn't, it doesn't feel as gratifying as it does to write it down. So my new exploration in that is, can I write it down and then transfer it, which I get. This is double work and not as productive and efficient, but I. , that's the space that I'm in right now. I'm like trying to train myself to be more efficient and it's hard to let go of old habits.

And I think that's a big, um, moment that I'm having in this extra space is reflecting on what does and doesn't serve me. And allowing myself to still be comfortable with what I do, but trying to find the, the through like this little moment where, ah, but I could be more efficient if I did it this way.

Let's try that. And then if it doesn't forgive myself, you know, try. So when you talk about what does and doesn't serve you, how, what's your method for knowing that if you are, it's a feeling, it's also asking people that are around you and you're doing this kind of work. This might be a colleague, this might be a partner.

Um, it's. , it's just talking out loud. Sometimes it's, it's almost therapeutic where I don't need you to give me the answer. I just need to say out loud that that wasn't working for me, and now I've, now that I've said it, okay. Let that go. It's out in universe. It is. This is not working for me. Now I can go back and say, well, what would, there's gotta be something better.

Cause when you talk to someone else and says, you're not using Asana. Like, wait, about using this in my home life. Yes. Brilliant. So it's, you know, just kind letting it be what it is. Say it out loud, put it out there, let it sit there for a minute, and then something will evolve and come from that. And not everything is gonna be highly optimized and perfect.

And that's okay too. You know, you can have the messy kitchen if you need to have a messy kitchen. Right, right. Absolutely. It's just what, what are the, what are the things that are gonna make the difference for you personally? Right. You know, and, and kind of honoring that we are all. And so this, this solution over here might not resonate with you, you know, and that's just fine.

Um, yeah, I've been onboarding to Trello for about a couple of years now. And, um, you know, I've got my stickies and I've got my Trello , and, uh, and, and that works. They, they dance together. You know, it's not perfect, but it's okay. I finally had to, I, you know, I hope Trello's not a sponsor, but I finally had to fire Trello and say, it's not working for me.

you know, all, there's lots of tools out there if that one's not working, you know, if you're not Oh yeah. Wedded to it because of a team. You know, if you're working with a team that uses Trello, You're using Trello, right? You're, you've gotta right to that. But I think, um, when it's your own personal work and it's something that you're holding yourself accountable to.

you've tried it, you've forced it. It's not working. Not what, there's gotta be something else out there. We're, we're at the time in our lives when there's so many options that you really don't have to settle. it really young. Absolutely. Right. There are, there are so many options. There are, like, uh, when I was on, um, a course with your coauthor Douglas, uh, and I, I got to experience Hop in for the first time.

Yeah. And I was like, oh my goodness, this is amazing. The, this is so like natural and fluid. I mean, it took some onboarding. You know, there's so much out there right now. So what else? Um, when we, so we've talked about entrepreneurship and we've talked about some nuances of how to design our journey. Um, what other things would you like to share with our listeners?

You know? Yeah. I think one key to this is in doing this work, You are, the analogy that I give is you're not a rogue cowboy. You're, you're a creative artist. You're not out there in the wild west doing it your way and finding it and pioneering your way forward it, it can feel like that sometimes, but you just aren't.

You're within a company and you have those boundaries and the walls that you live within. I remember when we were launching I D O U, which is an online learning platform, teaching design thinking to. at ideo, it was one of the first products coming from ideo. And as a brand, IDEO is very humble and the the work speaks for itself.

The clients get to talk about the work. It's not about look at us and you're trying to sell a product, you're gonna have to do promotions and you know, put yourself out there in new ways. And how do you align it with that brand? There was no world where we were gonna get to be. You know, arm out doing its own thing.

We were part of a parent company and we needed to behave that way. And so it was finding those constraints and, and, you know, creative creatively finding your way forward versus, you know, just doing it your own way out there. And, and I think when you know that going into it, it gives you, um, it, it gives you the right constraints and knowledge of.

What you're working towards. And it also will allow when you acknowledge that you're, you're, you know, who you're reporting to executives to know that you're not going to damage the brand, that you're going to, you know, take the right steps to experiment your way forward there. One of the biggest things that holds people back in this is, what if I fail?

Wanna lose my job, what will happen? And we talked through the book there, there are what ifs that can come from this. And you have to take the steps to protect yourself, your job, um, as much as you need to. You know, if you're, if you're ready to just put it all on the table and, and go all in, then that's a different story.

But typically you're not, and you want to do this work responsibly. And, and that's what it comes down to is you're not a rogue cowboy, you're a creative artist. You're finding your way forward. And just having that, knowing that going into it, allows you the permissions of. This isn't gonna be like, I'm out in the wild west doing this.

That's really helpful. Cuz when I think about the world of movies, they don't really , they don't really show that, you know, it's very much like an all or nothing. It's very, I mean, I guess it's for dramatization of course. And then we see the world of, you know, fast company and entrepreneur, blah, blah, blah.

And it, it, it, it's depicted very rogue, you know, but I, I would hate them to say that. Entrepreneurs, like they're working within a system too, you know, of some sort, right? With like the need to influence certain stakeholders and get certain investments and so they, they have their own set of influence, parameters and constraints.

Yes, I, I do share this in the book. My husband's in visual effects and so, uh, one of the sub chapters is prototyping Brad Pitt and how in making the movie, it's, you might have a vision of what it will look like, but you're doing small steps to get to that and you're getting feedback all along the way. So you're not just have this vision, this is what it's gonna look like when Brad Pitt is playing at Astra and he's on the moon and you know, it's not, that's not how it's gonna, you know, what's locked up in my head may not be what it's gonna come out to be.

I have to do the small experiments, share, get feedback along the way, iterate, move forward. And that's what all this work looks like. It's not just this, you know. idea locked up in you, and then it comes right out the way you believe it should. You're involving many people, you're taking many steps, and at the very end, it's gonna be the best version of what it should be.

It won't be what you thought it was gonna be though. When you talk about, um, having tasks and being able to iterate, and can you, can you expand upon that? Because I know personally my experience, uh, in corporate culture was that. There were a couple of versions, , and then there was this expectation that it would be like this beautifully baked cake, you know?

Mm-hmm. . Um, so C, could you bring that to life a little bit? . Yeah. So I do think different people will, at the table have believed on what it'll look like. And having recently worked at Autodesk, we did a big, um, event where we are gonna be thinking about the next 10 years. And some of the people that were gonna be involved in this hadn't been, you know, at the table in these conversations and building the next 10 year vision.

So we need to bring them along cuz they're doing this work. In prototyping our way, it would've been very easy to waited until the actual event to say you're, you'll know it when you get there. You're gonna experience this great experience. It's gonna walk you through how to think differently and. No one would've been bought in, right?

Like they would've just walked in and said, I don't know if this is the way I would've done it, but by bringing them into the conversation and showing them the ugly parts early on to poke at and say, that's not how I would do it. This, it needs to have this, our people need this. It evolved and changed and then it baked this beautiful cake at the very end.

And I think what we. What we really wanna do is show the beautiful thing to get a reaction to, but it's hard for people to have an honest and open reaction to a. Done thing. Either you look at it and you say, oh, well it's, it's, it is what it is. That's not what I would've done. Yeah, exactly. or fixate on something that is not the most important thing, you know, to, to look at and so, right.

Yeah. I think when you. Let that go and just show, show the ugly prototype early. Learn from it. Keep building together. You're, you're not only allowing the idea to evolve, but you're also teaching others how to be, uh, constructive and, and giving feedback and criticism to build something together. . Mm-hmm.

Yes. Yes. So as we draw to a close, is there anything else that you would like to share? And also, how can people get this amazing book and also , how can people, uh, stay in touch with you so, Yeah, in any order that you like back into it. I know, I know. It's easy to find against a three tiered, a three tiered question, you know,

Exactly, exactly. Find me on LinkedIn. That's easy. Or our website, start-within.com. Um, that's the easiest way to get in touch and. We have a few things going on. So we have some workshops around vesting assumptions that we've been doing and uh, you know, some of the bigger companies are buying the book for their team.

They're then using the book as part of that to like, how do we build product services and build out our ideas? Not rooted in assumptions and, and we do the workshop together. Um, so that's, that's one place to, to plug in if you're working within an organization. But if you're a solo person out there just trying to do this work, uh, the, I think the book is a great place to start.

I don't, it will not show you the perfect, uh, you know, again, linear way forward and said, it's the dip in, in coming into it and looking at it and where you are in this moment, how to unlock those because each chapter. Has an introduction, has some stories of inspiration of people doing this work within bigger companies, and then it has an activity and that activity is something that you can do, or it's something that you can take to your team to start to empower others to, to be able to, you know, innovate as well.

And that's, that's where I'm at right now is really, you know, there's a McKinsey report that came out about this, that one of the biggest things that, that holds people back from this work is the word innovation. It's, it's super, Exclusive sounding and it, and it has to be huge to be impactful and those are great or it's not that, and you don't associate with those words.

And I think start within then allows for that. The little idea is tweaking your way forward. It can lead to the big innovation, it can lead to that kind of work, but let's not call it that out of the gate. Let's give everybody permission to think differently and try to do. And so how can people get in touch if they were in a corporation and wanted to do some of these workshops with you?

Would that be at the start? Within our website? Yep. Yep. Great. Or you can email me directly, Karen start-within.com. Great. So I'll have all of those in the show notes. Awesome. Karen, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much. Yes, thank you. And. Looking forward to seeing with Journey and, and uh, also for me to finish reading this book so I can, uh, bombard you with 500 questions,

Great. Well thank you. Take care. Now, listeners, thank you for tuning in today. If you'd like to get a hold of Karen or read this amazing book, start Within, I will have the references in the show notes. If you've enjoyed the show, please don't hesitate to rate us until next. I'm your host Sara.