For Karen Lawson, business is all about reinvention – the idea that what you have been doing so far may not be the best way to do it in the future.
Perhaps that’s why Lawson has reinvented herself throughout her business career, holding senior positions at Yahoo!7, leading the transformation of CareerOne as its CEO and most recently, being named CEO of Slingshot, which drives innovation in corporates by connecting them with startups.
While the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait”, Lawson has shown that driving reinvention often involves a conscience decision to act.
Lawson had been working with Slingshot for a few months as its Head of Innovation, but secured the top spot by proactively pitching herself to the company’s two founders.
She believes it’s an example of how the individual has more power than ever to influence or disrupt big business – an idea that Slingshot hopes to capitalise on by combining startup know-how with the scalability of major companies.
“What younger workers underestimate is their ‘likability’ factor. Corporates want to build partnerships with people they trust, who understand them, listen to feedback, pivot and demonstrate high EQ. It doesn’t matter whether you are young and have ambition or are a board director – the best never stop listening, being humble and growing…We want ideas, passion and drive but also humbleness to listen and learn,” says Lawson.
She believes technology has made it easier than ever to get started, whether you want to be your own boss, create new industries or drive change at a major organisation.
“The future of the workforce is fascinating. Many generations were brought up to follow a well trodden path that our parents told us namely, ‘get an education and go get a job’. Now, we are likely to have 10 to 20 different careers. There are many more marketplaces to monetise your talents,” she says.
“For those who believe they have a ‘business in them’ (and I don’t think I have met a person yet that does not harbour a deep desire to do this), the opportunity to not only start a business but be incredibly successful at it has never been more real.”
Lawson cautions that entrepreneurs need to be realistic about the challenges and understand that collaboration is the key to success.
“The opportunity to fail is just a real…you can run out of money, resources and customers very quickly and there is more information and advice that you can handle.”
“The key to success isn’t the best business idea or being first to market, but scaling fast, ahead of your competition. You need to work out who to trust and who can provide you with tools, methodology and channels to growth.”