074 - A Leader Who People Will Follow Through Hard Times With Jennifer Ives

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Josh Tapp 0:00
What's up everybody? Josh Tapp here again, and welcome back to the lucky tide podcast. So today we have Jennifer Ives on the mic. And Jennifer and I are here today to talk about becoming a leader who people will follow through these hard times. So Jennifer, let's hop right in. Right, Jennifer? So tell us one thing about yourself that most people don't know.
Jennifer Ives 0:19
So I think the world has become very small. And there's a lot of travel and a lot of people from different countries doing lots of different things to each other with each other, in relation to each other. When I was young, that wasn't as much the case and my parents. I thought everyone was born to the passport. My dad worked internationally. And so I just assumed that when you were a baby, you got a social security number and a passport photo and because I had passport photos that go back to you know, when I was just a baby. So by the time I was, I don't know five I'd probably been on at least half of the continents and traveled to many different parts of the world and really almost took that for granted and didn't know that there was a different way of life and that until I got into grade school and realized that a lot of my friends hadn't done as much traveling, so I had been exposed to lots of different foods and cultures and religions and people and geographies at a really young age. And so since then I've backpacked around the world, different pieces of the world alone a few different times. And I think that when I share that with people they're like, Oh, right. Yeah, you went with like five other people on a summer something like nope, it was just me and my backpack. I met people along the way and just really enjoyed myself that way. So yeah, you can you can drop me in my backpack into almost any setting around the world night I can. I find that if you smile and you have good intention, no matter the language, if you don't know the language, you'll find someone who can help you.
Yeah, most of them will speak a little bit of English anyways. Right?
Not always, not always. But I do find that with a big open smile and a big open heart. You can I've met incredible people. I've I've you know Gone Home with people that I've met at train stations and their family opened up their home to me and fed me that night and had me at their house for three days on, you know, in places around the world that just just incredible, incredible love and generosity in some pretty amazing places.
Josh Tapp 2:16
That's awesome. Well, you have to ask a follow up question with that said, was your dad in the military? Is that why you were traveling so often?
Jennifer Ives 2:22
He wasn't he was an environmental scientist, environmental engineer. And so when I was little, he used to work behind the Iron Curtain. He was a water resource engineer, and he would bring clean water and the World Bank and then an organization called resources for the future. You know, had him go around the world and really help communities around the world who didn't have access to clean water, and they used his brains for that. And so again, until I was in first grade, I thought my dad might be a spy because whenever he came home from doing the work that he was doing, the FBI and CIA would often come and interview him and ask him about some of those work that he was doing. So I went into first grade thinking like my dad says he's a scientist, but I wonder
Josh Tapp 3:05
if he's a spy. He wasn't sure I've seen James Bond.
Unknown Speaker 3:09
Exactly. He wasn't a spy.
Josh Tapp 3:12
That's kind of funny. We had another lady on our show had that almost an exact same story, obviously, different situation, but she's like, I still to this day think my dad was a spy. That's so funny. My dad was a contractor. So I mean, there was no question what he was doing. That is awesome. Well, Jennifer, let's, let's talk a little bit about your journey. I mean, you know, we've talked about a little bit before this call, you know, I should have recorded some of it but but when it comes to your story, how did you end up working with three pillars and getting into the leadership space in general?
Jennifer Ives 3:43
Yeah, yeah, it's wonderful. So the co founder of three pillar David de wolf is a pretty incredible person and we're both based in the DC area. We live here in the DC area and he and I connected through mutual friends and he was looking for someone who Had a technology background with business related business and technology background to come and lead the largest portfolio p&l for the largest portfolio in the company. The company was also at an inflection point where they were kind of hitting their next growth phase. And that's really what I love to do is help technologies. And sorry, I help companies build, build out technologies, and from a business perspective, really hit those hockey sticks and go forward. And so he and I met and I just I loved everything that they were doing, they were three pillar three pillar, we build digital products, consumer driven digital products, heavy, heavy data on the back end, and in the background, beautiful user experience, user, you know, product, consumer driven products on the front end. And we do so for some pretty amazing companies both on the emerging startup Edge of the World, which no one knows the names of those companies until their purchase for a billion dollars and we say yes, they're our client. Now. You know the name of them. But also like LexisNexis, PBS, if you've ever interacted with PBS anywhere, not on a television screen, that is the the digital, those are our digital products that we designed for them. And it was just a really wonderful opportunity to come from a technology background. And to have so many technologies and different clients accessing product digital product in different ways and and working with our product teams to build those technology, build those platforms for our clients. Just an incredible opportunity. So that's, you know, I joined the team a little over three years ago and haven't looked back. It's been it's been pretty amazing. Now you're your VP over technology. Is
Josh Tapp 5:40
that what your role is?
Jennifer Ives 5:41
I Well, I have a new role in 2020 I'm the SVP, so Senior Vice President of global partnerships, I joined as the SVP of software and security and I lead that portfolio for a while good while in the world of technology, things move very quickly. We follow agile bits As practices, so after about a year and a half, we then kind of rearranged our portfolios. And then I took on the role of leading all of revenue generation, all of sales for the company. And then I moved into this new role that the board and David de Wolf, our founder has asked me, they've asked me to leave for the company, which is global partnerships. And these are really corporate partnerships with both large organizations and smaller organizations. And again, hitting that inflection point, and we just had a large funding event A couple of months ago, and we're, we're, we're doing some pretty amazing things in the world and really excited about it. So I'm excited about my new role. It's great.
Josh Tapp 6:39
you've, you've got a really awesome background, because like you said, You started engineering and you've worked your way into the business environment. Now you're really one of the top dogs, right. But on top of that, I mean, you've also got a passion for helping women in the tech sector, right, you were talking about that. Oh, but so let's let's talk about that for a minute. Because I know I know quite a bit. So I'm going to give a background here. For you, this is another background point. It's how I know you from the tribe of Titans, right? So it was really fun to see that when Jennifer enter the tribe of Titan, she actually brought some women from the tech sector with her to our community. And that was a really cool experience. So tell us a little bit about that. And, and you know what you're doing on that front?
Jennifer Ives 7:20
Yeah, thank you for mentioning it. So as a woman in technology, you know, when I was earning my undergraduate degree, I think you know, against statistics, depending upon who you know, where you do, how you pull the research, but let's just say about 30% of women were earning stem degrees. I was a number of years ago, and now again, depending upon the numbers, you pull, it's about 11%. And that is shocking to me, and it's not okay. The world is filled with technology, and the economy is filled with technology and to know that women make up 50% of the world 50% of the workforce and that 11% again, If you were to say, well, maybe it's 20%, Jennifer, doesn't matter. Still tiny. And that's not okay. It's not good for the economy. It's not good for the community society, it's not good on so many levels. And it's not good for business. We know that when businesses have a diverse leadership team, when they have diversity amongst their entire company that they perform better, there are plenty of studies that show over and over again that they perform better. So if you just want to look at the business numbers, it makes sense. If you want to talk about what's good in the right thing to do, it also makes sense. So from a women and technology perspective, it's just really important to me that, in particular, I love working with middle middle school and high school girls, so that young women so that they understand what it looks like what a career in technology looks like, because oftentimes, they don't think of themselves as technologists, when they're that age. They think of themselves as just enjoying, you know, fill in the blank. And I'll often say to them, you know what, in order to make that happen, there's technology involved their software. And often, they don't not know that they just don't think of themselves in those ways. And so if you can get them thinking that way ahead of college or ahead of certificate programs or whatever they're going to do next after high school, just getting them in the mindset that they are technologists that they to the technology isn't just for, for for the boys in their class, it's really important. And then also in in the world of business, as well as a woman in technology. And then also as a women, woman in leadership. This is these are two things that I that meld together and that I really am passionate about. And it was always someone else. Luckily, I had really amazing people in my life in my career, who encouraged me to the next level, to be honest, some of whom didn't care, some of whom weren't, they cared about the business and they saw that I could do something and so they made the suggestion. Other people did care. And so I don't necessarily think that it matters, how someone encourages you just that they're encouraging you and seeing the potential and saying, you know, this is it's your time you're ready for this when sometimes you're not feeling maybe that you're quite ready for that next step. So I've had some pretty amazing people in my life, do that with me, and mentor me in those ways. And then and then provide lots of leadership development along the way. I want to be there and do that for others and other in particular women. So fate with a number of groups that that help help women and leadership and women in technology. And I find it fun and it's great. And I i in particular, I love to, to mentor, female founders of tech companies that any given time I'm helping and advising and lending, lending some experience to them as well as they go from idea to starting starting a pretty cool business.
Josh Tapp 10:45
Yeah. And that's so awesome. Because age of reward of that is multiple fold, right? You're helping the startup but you're also helping the ladies herself, the lady herself to be able to accomplish those goals. That's so awesome. I wanted to have you Share with that piece of it because we were talking beforehand, I can tell it something you're extremely passionate about. And I think that's the reason why people flock to you over that. Because you're, you know, you're bringing something to the table that something that you believe in, but also something you you're a data scientist as well, right? So you understand, hey, this is the numbers back it right. And sometimes people just come at it with the emotional side instead of the logical side as well. So I really appreciate that. Um, another point I want to say, so I actually did my MBA in DC as well. So there's a there's a touch point for us
Jennifer Ives 11:32
that oh my gosh, that's strange.
Okay, my goodness, I didn't realize that Okay, great.
Josh Tapp 11:39
Well, so it was interesting outside the jack welch Management Institute as one of their that I did my MBA there. And he said jack Welch's leadership style. He talks a lot about what you were just mentioning, you know, when it comes to the D incentivizing, or helping give people that that motivation, it's sometimes twofold because like you said, For you, it sometimes was just so they could improve the business by putting you in that role. But other times it was because they want to help you. But what's really interesting is, like you said, they're both good forms of motivation. And what jack welch saw that I really loved was he talked about how the, you know, the creative side of things, if you want to motivate people with creativity, it doesn't have anything to do with money. It has everything to do with the, with social, I guess stimulus or social like giving them a social environment, social reward, and then a financial reward if you want them to do more technical things. And I was thinking about your situation with that. I think that just totally relates. So okay,
Jennifer Ives 12:43
yeah, no, it doesn't like I said, I've had people who encouraged me along the way because it was good for business. And I could do something that they needed done and they saw that there was a hole that they needed to fill and and I was able to help them with that. And then other times it's been you know, that someone really encouraged me for personal reasons. No, no, you can do this. You're ready for this, I strongly suggest that you that you throw your hat in the ring.
Josh Tapp 13:10
Yeah. And you know, look at you now right here. I think you did right. And I love the rail. Let's take those steps. Well, let's talk a little bit about kind of your methodology and what you're teaching to startup founders. Because you and I had a really interesting conversation about this beforehand about, you know, the pivots and and applying the correct ideas and not getting off the off the beaten path. And I want to start first by asking you, because one of the biggest problems as entrepreneurs we have is that we run into that shiny object syndrome, right? We're chasing ideas like crazy. So what are you typically how do you address that?
Jennifer Ives 13:46
Yeah, oh my goodness. I love entrepreneurs so much and I love supporting them. That's I you and I talked about that just a little bit. I I was really made to help people take ideas and do great things with them and you have to be able to pivot, you have to be really comfortable with having an idea, putting it out into the market quickly get it to market quickly, and then being able to see what the opportunity might be. And it might not be the opportunity you think and you cannot get wedded to your idea. I have seen many, many entrepreneurs. So when it's their idea, this is the this is the idea, this is what's going to do it this is and then they put it in the market and the market doesn't accept it for some reason. I mean, there are lots of lots of good reasons that that a good idea doesn't get accepted and if you are unable to see what that is remove the emotion from it and pivot into a new piece of that product or pivot onto a new piece of the market. You just won't succeed. And by the way, products that three pillar we talked about this all the time products are never done. They're always evolving. They're always chasing, changing clearly we work on you know with digital products. We've got consumer driven digital products out in the market that we're designing. But even a physical product, it's never done, you're always tweaking, you're always iterating, you're always listening to the consumer listening to the audience that you are presenting it to, to see how they react to it, and what they're using and what they're not using. And I just I see, entrepreneurs sometimes just get so wedded to their idea that they don't, that they don't pivot. And sometimes it's sometimes by the time they pivot, it's too late the market the opportunity is left the competitors have already come in and and seeing the opportunity and taking it taking great advantage of that opportunity. And that's the other piece is that you have to be really willing to to pivot pretty pretty quickly, because the market can be taken away from you pretty quickly.
Josh Tapp 15:50
So let me ask you this question because I think pivoting is such a vague word. Because sometimes some people are saying Oh, but does that mean I have to go from selling your baby bottles to, I don't know, like frisbees or something, right? Like what? What type of pivot Do you usually recommend to people? Are they typically large pivots? Are they more kind of? I guess the way they're selling the product, for example, like, Hey, we're still selling baby bottles, we're selling it to a different niche or what's what are your thoughts on that?
Jennifer Ives 16:19
Yeah. Oh, gosh, that's a great question. Because sometimes it can be one or the other. Right? Sometimes the pivots, pivots to me do mean that that is a bit of a larger move that you're making, tweaking and iterating right, are those smaller, you're moving along and you're you're tweaking, you're iterating you're making small changes. And and me, you know, as you're turning, you thought you're going to turn right but you're turning left instead, but you're doing it a little bit at a time in line with what the market is asking for. And then sometimes especially, you know, this is a good example to use with COVID-19. There are a number of technologies that may have been used in the hospitality industry that nobody longer have any customers that that that same technology, those plot the platform the the data related to it, maybe you've got a data lake that was unrelated. And now it's and then you take a hard sharp right turn, because you have to you see in the market and again, I think COVID-19 is a good example of really looking at what the services that you provide in the world. In my case, it's it's, you know, we were working with companies who are digital first companies, and how are they going to take that hard turn to address what's going on in the market right now in the past pre COVID-19? It really would depend on the industry. But I think that's a really good question. If you can take these small, you can iterate a little bit at a time and then sometimes you need to take a hard hard turn. And I will tell you, I've also learned that so I'll tell you some of the things that I that I haven't done well and I've learned from them, and it I'm not so sure it has to do with the pivoting but many times you can go out to market with a product You see that the technology can be used for many different buyers, many different industries. And and I have learned that go deep into one industry, keep your options open. That's why I'm always a fan of companies that have someone with our eye on strategic growth and markets that are kind of 18 months off, because you need to, it's really important to make sure that you have your line of customers and clients, but that you also see how your technology or your service you're offering can work in other industries so that you can if there is I mean, this is unprecedented. So in the past, I wouldn't have said COVID-19 but so that you can in fact move into different industries if you need to sell to different people, but really make sure that you have your base. But always I again, I'm a big fan of companies that have heads of strategic growth or if the chief revenue officer or Chief Operating Officer or the CEO is looking ahead at months to see what else is out there and really kind of bird dogging what else is going on with that particular technology to see who else that product can be used for.
Josh Tapp 19:08
Yeah, and I love that concept because it like you're saying it's more about diving deep instead of wide when it comes to to the niche. Because I know that one of the problems that a lot of the people that we work with, they don't come to market with a product before they even know if there is a market for the product, especially in the online sector. And I think the advantage of people like us who've been in that space or we've done you know that the higher education for example, we understand that well you don't you don't bring a product to market if there's not a market for it yet. And that market research is a hugely important phase. But what you're talking about is saying hey, how do we double down and make this product better make those iterations better, so that the product is perfect for that that niche of people and then you could eventually expand?
Jennifer Ives 19:53
Well, and even though the use of the word perfect, nothing's ever perfect, right? So each and don't let that be the enemy of getting Something out, right? Don't Don't wait on perfection, put something into the market and see how people are reacting to it, see how the market reacts to it so that you can iterate? And you can. I know we're seeing a lot of people talk about iteration, you know, iterate and pivot and it means put your product into the market, see how people react and then make some tweaks along the way to to adjust that product to what needs what the needs really are.
Josh Tapp 20:26
Yeah, I love that. And really one of the things that when it comes to your audience in general and when you're when you're working with those niches is it has everything to do with with your feedback and the way that you're actually communicating with, with the people that you're working for. And I think you were talking about this earlier with that, when it comes to your the COVID-19 situation. This has kind of forced everybody to have to start being more more social weirdly enough, even though we have to be quote unquote, less social.
Jennifer Ives 20:55
Yeah, it's it's this interesting space where you're right. We were talking about it before that that we're working with Virtually we're meeting virtually we're working with each other virtually. And yet there's this proactive humaneness that you need to bring to every meeting you attend whether its internal or external, every interaction needs more humaneness than before. And it's been really interesting to see how companies and leaders and team members react to the virtual. The situation that we're in right now where everyone is physically separated. And what I've loved seeing is that, you know, as leaders, it's really important to be incredibly communicative over communicate, be incredibly transparent about what's going on in the business, and to really lead by design and lead by your own actions around making sure that people are feeling that humaneness. We're doing things like we have lunchroom left where you put your name in a Google doc and three names are chosen at random, and you get to have lunch virtually, with your team members who by the way, when I participated, and I immediately put my name back in after lunch, because I wanted to be put back into into the rotation, I got to have lunch with two of my colleagues that I don't really get to see a lot. I get to see them in the hallway or, and I have the whole hour with them. And it was so beautiful to hear what makes them tick and understand what what their families are doing and how are they doing working from home and what was the last vacation they went on? And just all these wonderful things, but it is it is really important, the humaneness of where we are today with the virtual interactions.
Josh Tapp 22:40
Yeah, I love that. Well as kind of a signing off piece of advice here for us, Jennifer, I'd like you to kind of touch on what people should be doing in regards to COVID-19 and pivoting. I mean, is this the time to pivot like what's kind of your biggest piece of advice on that?
Jennifer Ives 22:56
Go? Yeah, it's it's it's absolutely the time to pivot you, there's no choice the market and what's happening in the world is dictating. So you can't. What, what is what is interesting about this time is that there is no ability to put your head in the sand or say, oh, I'll just wait on this for eight weeks it is the new normal is going to be a very different normal than it was eight weeks ago and what we're living today and in two months from now, it will be different from today. But I don't believe that we're ever going to get back to where we were eight weeks ago or 12 weeks ago or you know, q4, so to have the ability to just understand where you are as a company as a business, whether you're small business or large business, and really think through right now there is no option. There is no option to not pivot like you just you don't have that you don't have that ability.
Josh Tapp 23:57
That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. Sharing all that wisdom with us. And before we sign off, though, could you let us know where we can connect with you? website or potentially your LinkedIn? How would you like us to connect with
Jennifer Ives 24:08
you? Yeah, absolutely. So LinkedIn, Jennifer Ives with three pillar global so I think the handle on LinkedIn is actually Jennifer Ives with a number one. So Jennifer Ives one. I am on Twitter But again, it's really noisy so I do have a Twitter handle I'm rarely on Twitter, but it is at I am jives j. s. I am chives. And then our website absolutely you can find us at three pillar global calm and that's three the number three not spelled out. So three pillar global COMM And you know if anyone has questions about software and consumer driven digital products, absolutely. Let us know. We're happy to help.
Josh Tapp 24:51
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Yeah,
Jennifer Ives 24:53
Josh, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Be well.
Josh Tapp 24:56
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