This weekend I needed to put together a portfolio of sorts. I started digging through my archived files relating to different projects I’ve worked on since graduating from business school 3 years ago. A few ideas hit me as I sorted through the many documents I have saved, and all of the personalities that had a hand in crafting them:
1.) The breadth of work that came my way once I entered the innovation field still knocks me out and makes me feel incredibly lucky. From re-designing a toy store floor to developing a cost-neutral social media system to track credit card fraud practice, the ride has been anything but boring.
2.) I have had the great good fortune to work alongside some incredible talent. I owe them a big thank you for everything I’ve learned from them.
3.) How some less-than-talented people climb the ladder, particularly in competitive cultures during a massive recession, still astounds me. My friend, Wayne, always says that a chapter in his corporate autobiography will be entitled “Cruella De Ville and Other Crazies I’ve Survived”. I’ve also seen a lot of wonderful people let go during a time when companies should have been thanking their lucky stars to have such incredible talent among their ranks.
4.) The amount of personal and professional growth is evident when I view the spectrum of my work as a whole. From the data analysis to the strategic planning to the execution design, I could see my strengths growing and multiplying throughout the paper trail. I winced a little looking at my early work after b-school – it was a good reminder that we all start somewhere and we’re all capable of growth, many times in leaps and bounds!
5.) The projects that I felt the most passion for weren’t always the most successful or the ones that earned my paycheck. The pro-bono work and the projects we couldn’t get funded were the ones that really made me come alive. Funding within large companies is an odd thing – newness and risk are not things that large companies easily take on. And yet, those are the very ideas that have the greatest upside. Playing it safe carries its short-term rewards for sure, but it doesn’t hurt to take a peek over the horizon toward a tomorrow further down the line.
As I look back on my body of work, it’s always the things I did against all odds that brought me the greatest happiness.