Leadership Lessons: Embrace the Messy & Focus on What's Possible

Chris Duprey

Chief Operating Officer, 10+ Years in Business Development & Leadership, Former Infantry Officer

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Leadership Lessons: Embrace the Messy & Focus on What's Possible Blog Feature

Published on August 14th, 2019

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Editor's Note: This was written last week by Chris, so as to capture a moment in time. Image courtesy of © Connecticut Headshots.

I’m writing this on Friday, two days after the close of our event, IMPACT Live, and the day after we hosted all of IMPACT in our headquarters office in New Haven.

Many of our team members work remotely, and — as I sit here typing — I'm watching them slowly but surely say their goodbyes, grab their suitcases, and hop taxies to the airport or train station.

Still, even with steady traffic of heartfelt goodbyes, there is a strong energy here at IMPACT HQ. Music is playing, dogs are running around, the conference rooms are packed, and work’s getting done.

For me, however, this also marks an anniversary.

Two years ago almost to the day, IMPACT CEO Bob Ruffolo called me to continue a conversation we had started at IMPACT Live 2017. Our talk would lead to everything that has transpired since then.

That day, two years ago, after talking to Bob, I went to the IMPACT office. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I walked in and found Bob in the kitchen talking with IMPACT Head of Editorial Content Ramona Sukhraj. He grabbed me a beer (as well as one for himself) and told Ramona I was coming over to be the COO at IMPACT.

I also remember meeting now IMPACT Director of Web and Interactive Content Liz Murphy that day. Oddly enough, that was the third time we had met, but she introduced herself as it was the first time she was meeting me. After a short, awkward pause, Bob reminded her we had already met. Then, we had a good laugh about it. (And thus, a lasting friendship was born.)

I remember seeing the energy at IMPACT. They had just pulled off a huge win their event.

Fast forward to today. We’ve just come off a huge high with the success of IMPACT Live 2019. The team has been given its shot of IMPACT-yness and is fully aligned to tackle what’s on the horizon.

And for as much as we can talk about what’s next — and what’s coming is pretty cool — it’s what’s possible that I find fascinating. 

That's what I want to talk about today — what's possible. I want to talk about how we at IMPACT were able to do what we’ve done, and how you can, too.

Embrace the messy

When I joined the IMPACT team two years ago, we were a group of about 30 employees (mostly in office folks), with a few remote teammates. We were running the exact same playbooks that every other HubSpot Agency Partner was running, but still hoping we would stand out and do better.

Bob and I joked about not wanting to grow the company to over 50 employees because we didn’t want the compliance headaches.

As many of you know, we completely ignored that thought and have grown to close to 70 folks. We’ve changed our structure numerous times and have shifted our focus away from implementation and towards consulting and educating clients on the principles of They Ask, You Answer.

With all those changes and shifts, it has been clear to me that there is truly only one constant — change.

Through all of that change, rather than resisting, our team has developed the mantra of:

"Embrace the Messy!"

This has us living in the solution, always focused on getting after it, rather than constantly pointing out why suggestions or ideas won’t work.

If we hadn’t embraced this message, this mindset, we wouldn’t be doing the things we’re doing and we wouldn’t be constantly focused on what’s next.

Having a growth mindset is mandatory

This is rather cut and dry. If you and your team think you’ve arrived, that there is nothing else you can learn, you are doomed to be mediocre.

If we live in the idea that we know everything, we will never truly listen to hear what may work or to learn a new way to see things.

When we embrace a growth mindset, we are always in a place where we are open to learning. We start with the idea of what can I learn from this (book, talk, person). When this happens we open ourselves to learning, which is a key ingredient if you want to do amazing things.

Learning has been a key component to everything we’ve done since I’ve been here. From reading to attending conferences to developing training programs for our team, we’ve been committed to learning.

Don’t linger on the past

When things go wrong, identify specifically what happened, why it happened, and what is needed to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Once you’ve done that, move on. 

Nothing good comes from reliving mistakes and wallowing in the stories you’re telling yourself. Instead focus on how you’re going to attack the problem in the future. This is living in solutions. This is having a growth mindset. This is embracing the messy.

So, how does this all fit together?

When we do the above, we live in a world of what's possible.

This simple saying completely describes my time as the COO of IMPACT. When Bob asked me to, “Come run IMPACT!” I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was I trusted and loved Bob, so we’d be OK.

In that time we’ve never let someone saying, “it’s not possible, it’s too hard, it won’t work,” to get in the way of what’s possible.

These last two years have been filled with a ton of personal and professional growth. I’ve made tons of new friends with our team and community, and have actually spent more time doing the things I love. 

I’m not an anomaly. This is possible for you and your organization. When you live in what’s possible, everything becomes possible.

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