How did you become an entrepreneur?
In 1996, I started my first company because the Homeless Services Program of the State of Maryland needed my help and they were required to pay me through a company. I wanted to be helpful so I created Crosby Consulting. Over the decades I used Crosby Consulting to quietly fix organizational ‘situations’ which tended to fall within the realm of Organizational Behavior (conflict, culture, communication, reframing). I received various degrees and certifications along the way to make my work more effective for my clients. I ended up becoming VP of Organizational Behavior at a Strategic Planning firm but the owner and I had vastly different styles. I felt strongly that the world needed a results-oriented and accessible OB practice that was grounded in empathy, positive psychology and social responsibility, so I started Work Wisdom in August of 2015. I never ever wanted to own my own business. As a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, I can assure you that I did not possess the requisite EQ skills to start a business (low Assertiveness, low Independence…). However, because I felt strongly that helping others in this unique way was my purpose on the planet, I’ve grown some new skills. (insert picture of my Rosie the Riveter bicep here….)
What is your vision for the future of your company? Of your community? Our vision is to revolutionize the way the world achieves.
We have ideas about healthy achievement as threads that are woven together (work, personal life, family, volunteering, branding) to accomplish your (individual or organizational) purpose on the planet. With the reality that work and life can no longer be compartmentalized, we need new thinking about how we take our whole authentic selves into our causes in ways that nourish, sustain and move the needle. Unlike most entrepreneurs with whom I work, I don’t have any interest in growing our team or being publicly recognized. I do have a great interest in making our most helpful ideas easily contagious.
What has been the biggest challenge to creating a new venture?
It was surprisingly challenging to find our tribe since we were inventing our product. Because of our team’s background, we’d wrongly assumed that our clients would most likely be concentrated in two particular industries. Because of the business model and cultural DNA of those two industries, they will probably never buy what we sell. We were essentially selling Bon Jovi t-shirts at an Enya concert and the rejection was humbling. Some days it was almost debilitating.
What advice would you give to an earlier version of yourself?
Two words. Market. Research.
Tell me about your biggest surprise or lesson learned as an entrepreneur?
There are so many surprise talents and opportunities you can notice as long as you aren’t overly attached to a plan. Some of what is making us particularly beneficial to teams and leaders is not necessarily the service lines we offer, but HOW we deliver our thinking and ideas. We had to stay curious and flexible to notice that people loved the animated shorts we created, our quirky articles and our radical gentleness at least as much if not more than the content of our engagements.
Kedren Crosby is the President of Work Wisdom, an organizational behavior and leadership development consultancy based in Lancaster, PA. Kedren holds a Master’s degree in Policy Science from The University of Maryland, graduate level Certificates in Nonprofit Studies from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Conflict Resolution at Notre Dame and has completed graduate coursework in Organizational Behavior at Harvard University. Kedren is also a certified practitioner of Emotional Intelligence and serves as adjunct graduate school faculty at Elizabethtown College. Kedren has written and presented extensively on burnout, work-life integration, authentic leadership, organizational culture, organizational conflict management and communication best practices. Professionally, Kedren has enjoyed serving as a CEO, CDO, Director, Associate Director, Interim Executive Director, President, Vice President and professor. Her 25 years’ workplace experience in all three sectors (for-profit, non-profit, government) fuel both her empathy and her ability to see quickly into your specific scenario. Her practice is rooted in authenticity, appreciative inquiry, crucial confrontations, emotional intelligence, positive organizational behavior, transformative mediation, positive psychology and the platinum rule.
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