CEO Sundays: From Retail to Startups, It’s All About The People

By July 17, 2011

Written by Kristin Demidovich, Chief Marketing Consigliere @MentorMob

Everyday in corporate culture was a challenge, providing a new lesson! Most lessons learned in the corporate world are thought of as “business driving” lessons.  How can we drive sales? How can we increase SPH? How can we market new collections? One would think at first glance that these lessons all have to do with numbers and product and “if learned,” ultimately your business would be successful. But my most priceless lesson came one day during a very motivating corporate visit: Every sale, every success story, every product, starts and ends with PEOPLE!

 In retail you learn how to work with people in all sense of the phrase.  Working with clients to provide exceptional service to build loyalty!  Working with superiors to creatively and strategically plan new business tactics.  Working with peers and managers to develop personal development plans for growth.  Working with your team to build a culture that is fun, empowering and creative.  Everything in business starts and ends with people.

For eight years my routine as sales manager at a well-known retail store began with the beeping of an alarm at 5:38 sharp. I’d wake up, get dressed, check the traffic report, and hop in the car at the same time. Then I’d assemble my team and open the store in preparation for another adventure in the wild world of retail.

Everything eventually does come to an end, and life as I knew it came to an end eight months ago when I started a new life…  The Startup Life! The alarm that starts my day has been replaced by a constant stream of notifications through Twitter and Facebook, blogging and texting, phone calls and emails. Launching a startup means you are always working and you are always learning, but you are also always loving it!

Everyday in a startup environment is definitely a challenge, but the lessons learned in corporate have been essential to seeing each day differently. In the startup world, you come  up with the ideas that can influence others! You get to rub shoulders with other businesses and foundations. You are building powerful networks! You get to stay up late finishing investor slides. You have the power to create real, big-picture change! Every idea, every network, every meeting, everything starts and ends with people! A startup team is more than just you; success and growth have been because of the people!

Here are priceless lessons we have embraced:

  • Plan your team — Know the roles that the company needs in order to execute the plan.  Be honest about the current strengths and weaknesses in the team and yourself.  Then look to build on your weaknesses and enhance your strengths with your people.
  • Build your team – Think as if you are building the next championship team. Who is the best at every position and how are you going to motivate them to join your all-star team?
  • Develop your team — Encourage, motivate, inspire.  Have compassion to ask what their personal goals are and make it your mission to coach them to that goal.
  • Delegate to your team — This is your chance to be the coach on the sidelines, jumping around and cheering on your team.  Plan with your team and ensure they know the mission, the goal and the game plan to get there.  Be clear when going over the game plan and remember to give feedback throughout the game.
  • Empower your team — Allow for creativity from the team and encourage ideas.  All great ideas come from a team as a whole, not one individual.
  • Celebrate with your team — no matter how big or small the success, remember to celebrate successes and failures.  Recognition shows that they are cared for and appreciated, making the team work that much harder!


In short, I’ve experienced more during my transition to a startup than I could have ever imagined. Every single day we are  building a team of passionate people who collaborate and cheer on one another every step of the way. It is a road less traveled it can be scary, uncertain, and exhausting–but to see your team’s development and potential is even more rewarding, exciting, and motivating! Remember it starts and ends with people… even in a startup!

Kristin Demidovich is the Chief Marketing Consigliere @MentorMob. MentorMob is improving the way to navigate the web to learn anything by allowing the community to crowd-source the best content to learn.