With change comes opportunity. But the uncertainty that comes with change can often cause anxiety and even fear, yet no one I know has ever succeeded without some discomfort along the way.
When I left the DC Chamber of Commerce more than five years ago, I felt some of that discomfort as I packed up my belongings and turned the lights off in my office for the final time. There was also some anxiety as I wondered whether I made the right decision to venture out on my own. Before my 12 years at the DC Chamber, I had worked in Corporate America for 30 years, earning a steady paycheck and advancing my career through hard work and perseverance. Now it was all on me to ensure my new venture succeeded.
When I was president and CEO of the DC Chamber, people saw me as a partner, and someone who could help them achieve their goals and objectives, professionally, politically and personally. But as soon as I walked out that Chamber door, I was no longer the rainmaker in their eyes. I simply blended in to the rest of the business community, and it would be my responsibility to distinguish myself and my company from the rest of the pack. I still had relationships, but they changed when people saw I was no longer in a role to help them directly.
It’s Lang Strategies’ five-year anniversary this month, and while I will certainly take a step back and reflect on how far we have come and the challenges we’ve faced, it will not be a celebration. There is still too much work to be done, both for our client partners and for business development.
One of our most successful endeavors over the past five years was landing the city of Detroit as a client. A once proud, vibrant city had fallen on hard times and its resolve and grit as an industrial and economic center devolved into job losses, vacant businesses and homes, and high crime. Much of this came down to the city’s leadership and operations. The bones were always there for Detroit to be great, but the city’s depressed state was apparent not just on its streets, but at City Hall.
When Detroit was coming out of bankruptcy, officials engaged our services. We worked with leadership, strategized ways to operate more efficiently and implemented a grand plan to navigate through leadership challenges that could be helpful in bringing the city back to life. Now, one of the nation’s largest and great cities is back to being a competitive market where people want to live, work and play. Of course, like Lang Strategies, there is still a lot of work to be done, and that is a good thing.
At Lang Strategies, we will continue to tell our story to the world while expanding our social media presence. We’ll also do more with executive coaching because the culture of any organization starts with its leader and how that person interacts with its employees and within the community. Of course, our biggest opportunity is to continue differentiating ourselves from other consultants doing similar work. We know we’re unique in what we do and how we do it, but we must show that each day.
Five years feels like a long time, yet it also feels like just yesterday I left the Chamber to embark on this exhilarating journey. If you’re considering the leap, I highly recommend it. Be ready for long days, travel, patience and disappointment, but after five years I am proud to say it is all worth it in the end.