Tats, Trucker Hats and Rug Rats
Over the next few months I will be transitioning my life and my business from Hood River, Oregon to Austin, Texas. There I will nurse my wounds from a divorce amidst old friends and my loving family.
I am reflecting on my last big transition. Before coming to rural Oregon for my husband’s job in 2010, I provided leader, team and organization development support as an employee inside typical corporate environments (think financial services, software, aerospace and defense). Since there were no companies in Hood River at that time big enough to have a staff Organization Development job, I started my own consultancy serving small businesses in our community.
The start of my business was challenging and incredibly humbling. Prospects hadn’t gotten the memo on what a big deal I was, and I hadn’t gotten the memo on how relevant my corporate jargon wasn’t. People stuff is people stuff, but I had to learn how to use plain language to describe my work. Imagine the horror!
I also had to ditch the pumps and pantyhose. In my prior environments, people didn’t always dress in suits, but they certainly never wore trucker hats or muddy work boots. Nor do I recall co-workers covered in tattoos or showing up with a toddler in tow.
As much as I have come to love working with authentic people who bring their whole, real, sloppy, beautiful selves to work, it was actually pretty disorienting at the beginning. This mama had done her fair share of milk pumping in a company-provided lactation room (thank you, Raytheon), but the first time a small business client whipped out a breast and started nursing her baby in a strategic planning workshop I nearly spit out my coffee.
There are many businesses of various sizes in Austin, and I may have the opportunity to support big companies in traditional office environments. There is a special place in my heart though for owners of small businesses who are keeping it real. I mean really real. The irony is not lost on me how my clients have been the catalyst to my professional development, and more significantly, my development as a person. For you, my messy humans, I am forever grateful.