“Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”John C. Maxwell
Drawing from a thirty year career in the business world of brand marketing and communications. Kerri’s extensive and lauded experience in leading teams, investing in individuals, and sparking new thinking provides a foundation with which she can offer a unique and seasoned perspective. Kerri is a proud mom to two amazing young women and mentor to many.
As one of the drivers behind the launch of NikeWomen, Kerri has personally seen how community can change lives around the world. Her skills are strongest in creating great strategy, building solid teams, and designing change-making group experiences. The Liberty Collective is a bold, but natural next step in her career and she is thrilled to be taking on this challenge, along with great partners — united by their courageous hearts, open minds, and rolled up sleeves.
Kerri believes that diversifying, and thereby strengthening leadership talent, while living up to an equity driven commitment, is the most important work an organization can do today.
Could you tell us about the company you created and/or the professional services you offer?
I started the Liberty Collective two years ago to grow great leaders through collaborative and experiential learning. Every service we offer is centered on Evolved Leadership and designed to inspire new thinking, engage teams and individuals personally, and offer tangible preparation for actionable change.
What did you do before starting your own project?
I was a Vice President of Global Marketing at Nike, which was a career culmination of a multi-decade career in marketing and advertising.
What motivated you to take the big step?
I felt an urgency get out into the world and create positive, forward moving change. We were (and continue to be!) living through upheaval in the political, climate and health landscapes — these were being felt at the local and global level. In addition, I personally felt that we could and should push for more dimensional leadership norms in the workplace. My specific passion is centered on changing the game for women in business. And in the process, shift standards for all and by all. There are two factors that are critical to consider:
First: we can’t talk about gender dynamics in the workplace, without talking about the intersectional experiences that people are facing everyday. As we work to increase representation of women, as well as evolved leadership norms, we MUST also understand that we need to place more focus on underrepresented and historically oppressed communities (for example, people of color, LGBTQ+, neurodiversity, people with disabilities).
Second: We won’t be successful in this work of growing great leaders, if we don’t change normative culture surrounding us all. So the work starts there — our goal is to change what we uphold and practice as great leadership. And in this way, our evolved leadership programming will also critically be created and practiced for and with men, as well as multi-gender groups.
What tools or skills were the most useful for planning the start of your project?
The best tool I had was my gut instinct and personal experience. When I first started out I had vulnerability concerns related to my lack of academic credentials (for example I’m not trained in behavioral science and I intentionally decided NOT to go back to school to get an advanced degree in leadership) but I came to realize that the most important thing I could offer was my personal experience working on the front lines as a senior business executive.
Which were the main economic challenges you faced during your project?
My start-up is entirely self funded. I have the privilege of having saved for my future retirement and that is what I have tapped to build this company. Clearly this puts me at risk for my future but it’s the dice I’m willing to roll to do something big and meaningful that will help the world move forward in a direction I feel is so important.
How did you get your first customer / client / money earned?
We are still in start up mode but our initial client base is cultivated from personal relationships, reputation and word-of-mouth.
What was the role of your support network, mentors or sponsors at the start of your project?
This has been critical. As an example, we traveled the world for 18 months to help inform our curriculum and hone in on the most important insights. Every conversation we had (and there have been many hundreds) was initially sparked by an introduction or referral from someone I knew. We were so honored to have these recommendations and connections and that is the real power of The Liberty Collective.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day right now is a mix of introspective writing and creating — working on both a body of learning development that we use with clients, as well as a bigger narrative (the story of my career and my quest to listen to women all over the world). In addition I am active in developing potential partners as we begin to more formally launch our service offerings.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am lucky to have built a beautiful studio office very near my home. Unless I am on the road, I commit to coming in every day and creating the right structure and sticking to our own business and development deadlines. I’m also blessed to have a trusted partner, my older sister, Erika — who has joined me as a full partner. Together we are much stronger.
Is there a book, series or podcast that you’re particularly into right now?
The joy of this chapter of my life is that I have become a student again, and am now a teacher of sorts, as I facilitate Evolved Leadership sessions with individuals and organizations. We have an incredible “bookshelf” of resources that we recommend. My favorite continues to be the Krista Tippett On Being series, It will open your mind and move you powerfully in new directions.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
My biggest lesson is to follow your heart. It knows where to go.