The Change of Plans Issue
Through failures, pivots, and a pandemic, resilience and flexibility help founders and companies grow.
Founder success stories were getting boring.
That’s one conclusion we made in the early days of developing In the Works, when we were thinking through the kinds of stories we wanted to tell and taking a closer look at what was already out there.
Of course this wasn’t true about every story. But so many repetitive tales of success focused too much on the end point — the big wins and lucrative exits — and less on the big failures and scrappy pivots that presumably accounted for much more of the actual story.
So we committed to telling a different kind of success story: one that is more honest and representative of the many different, winding, difficult paths to growth. One that doesn’t assume “success” means the same for every founder and company.
Most of all, we wanted to acknowledge that things probably won’t go as planned. And that’s OK. Failing is a human, universal (and interesting!) part of every story.
According to the founders we interviewed for this issue, the key is how you approach these inevitable failures and roadblocks. Being flexible in the face of the unexpected — knowing how to react to a change of plans or knowing when to initiate a necessary change of plans — is where the real learning happens.
The best pivots keep mission at the forefront.
Sometimes we’re forced to change plans when something massive pops up out of nowhere (like a global pandemic), throwing all previous progress and future plans into a spiral.
In this issue, you’ll learn how a purposeful pivot helped co-founders April Johnson and Sharon Cao go from realizing “everything they had built was suddenly useless” to creating an entirely new, sustainable, and scalable business model for their events company Happied — without sacrificing any part of their original mission.
Other times, a change of plans is intentional: like making the shift from founder to CEO, switching up your vernacular at work to foster inclusivity, or walking away from a project when your heart’s not in it anymore.
Regardless of what sparks the change, what matters most is the resilience and creativity with which you go back to the drawing board, a lesson we learned from founder Mike Stone. And, as the four founders interviewed for Real Quick can attest, sometimes you gain the best perspective when things go wrong.
Finally, as we gleaned from our conversation with Deldelp Medina, executive director of Black & Brown Founders, big and unexpected changes can — and should — inspire us to rethink the way we operate as a whole society.
We hope you find as much inspiration as we did from these founders and companies who persevered through (and learned from) their various changes of plans.
Here’s to more changing, failing, and learning — and to fewer boring success stories.
Until next month,
— Hillary Noble, Editorial Lead