It all started when Kristen Hadeed, a college student, asked her parents for a loan to buy an expensive pair of jeans. They laughed and then told her to get a job.
And so she did just that. In fact, she created her own job.
Kristen recognized one of her strengths – she liked things neat and clean. And so she decided to take on some cleaning jobs in her area. Very quickly, the demand exceeded her own abilities, and so she engaged the help of other students. She landed a massive contract and had students lined up to help her with the work.
And then the unthinkable happened – her team let her down in a massive way.
In a recent interview, Kristen recalls that incident as being devastating, but also one of her greatest lessons in leadership.
She had a choice – give up or build a better team. She chose the latter.
She set high standards for her team – requiring a high GPA and community service, for instance. She realized that those who were responsible enough to earn good grades and give back to the community were more likely candidates to show up for work and do the job well.
It’s a method that has paid off handsomely. Kristen, now 25 years old, operates a highly successful cleaning business with 400 employees during the busy season.
Here’s the thing. She started her business in college, but the seed of her business was planted years earlier. When she was 10 years old, she made a list of ways to retire before she turned 20. Number six on the list was “house cleaning”.
In a Ted Talk, she talks about her varied leadership experiences through the years and how she met with challenges along the way.
Kristen knew three things:
- She wanted to make money;
- She wanted to lead; and
- She had strengths that could be turned into a business.
And she learned three things:
- You may not make money on every idea, but you have to risk failure in order to succeed;
- You have to lead the right way and form a strong team; and
- Your business must be built on your strengths in order for it to be lasting and rewarding.
While Kristen went on to graduate, her greatest lessons were not the ones she learned in class as much as the ones she learned from starting and running her own business and leading others.
It’s an amazing story for all entrepreneurs and entrepreneur wannabes. What kinds of things did you aspire to do when you were 10? It might serve you well to tap into those ideas and see where they lead. In fact, we do this very thing in our Strengths Reporting and Discover My Best Focus program. We dig all the way back to childhood to look for those specific strengths that you may not even realize you had – strengths you can turn into a successful career or business.
Contact me if you need help identifying your strengths and tapping into ideas for how to use those strengths to create a business or further develop your career. I’d be delighted to help.