A little over a year ago, I left Apple. After 14+ years with the world’s most admired company, the main question I got from friends and co-workers was, ‘Why?’. I loved the company, loved the people with whom I was was fortunate enough to work, and loved the work I was charged with doing.
And my response, in a word, was growth. Even though I wasn’t comfortable, (can you really get comfortable in an industry like consumer tech, at a company like Apple?) I knew that the time was right to push myself even further.
So I decided to start my own consultancy, Smith + Grey.
But for the first 2 months after leaving Apple, before I really got started, I put myself into the mental equivalent of a sensory deprivation chamber. I wanted to understand where my mind and passion pointed when I didn’t have meetings to attend, or a calendar to manage. What would happen when I wasn’t planning events, or delivering briefings, or writing performance reviews? What articles did I gravitate towards? What books did I reread? What things caught my attention, when I was intentionally trying not to focus?
The answers wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me. I love business. I love people. I love the science behind how we think we make decisions, and how we actually make decisions. And most of all, I love the intersection of these three things. So I started working with businesses that I found interesting, and people who I found inspiring, and we worked on how to make their organizational cultures reflect their values. I gave talks. I appeared on podcasts. I wrote blog posts.
Then came the twist.
I met Dr. David Rock at a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference in New Orleans earlier this year. He gave a presentation on Breaking Bias. After his presentation, I stuck around. I waited until everyone else who wanted to shake his hand and tell him how insightful his team’s work was, had left. And I asked if I could walk with him down to his book signing.
During that brief walk, we talked about business, and human behavior, and the work his team was doing at The Neuroleadership Institute (NLI), and I was hooked.
The more I met with the team at NLI, the more I believed. The more I heard about their lofty goal to change leadership through neuroscience, the more I thought I could learn a ton, and contribute along the way.
What’s in it for me? Besides working with a suite of the smartest and most dedicated Ph.Ds, business leaders, eminent thinkers, and dedicated professionals one could hope to work around?
I now lead the Diversity and Inclusion practice at NLI.
Honestly, I can’t think of a more important time to do this work. At a time when things can seem like we're slowing our collective progress or even moving backward globally, I will work with the best and brightest minds to help companies find a better way forward. Business isn’t immune to the global trends, and in some ways business is one of our greatest hopes for positive and substantive change.
No one knows what the future holds for them, and as Steve Jobs said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward.”, but sometimes an opportunity presents itself that you just know is right. You know the dots are meant to connect. This is one of those opportunities, and one of those teams.
Thanks for supporting me this long, and stay tuned, because I have a feeling it’s going to keep being an amazing ride.
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