Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland Nelson and welcome to another edition of Women Mean Business, where we’re going to take you up close and personal with extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. My guest today is Kristin Kaufman, the founder of an incredible consulting firm call Alignment and the author of these unbelievable books Is This Seat Taken? There’s two in the series of four written so far and I’m ready to read them; Random Encounters That Change Your Life and the big one, It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat. Welcome Kristin to Women Mean Business.
Kristin: Oh thank you, thank you Leisa, I’m delighted to be here.
Leisa: how did you get here? I mean like you’ve had an extraordinary career, you’re in an incredible place right now; tell us how you got to this place.
Kristin: You know, I’ve been so fortunate; honestly. I was reared in a very small town in Hot Springs, Arkansas and my first job out of college – and I was a risk hire I might add, as a woman and a non-engineer – was with Hewlett Packard Company and I worked for Hewlett Packard for almost 20 years. I worked my way up in the organization; I was running a $3 billion business unit when I left. Learned a tremendous amount through what I would call the gold standard of cultures with Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Made the decision in 2001 to leave HP because I wanted to embark on a software career and at that time HP did not really have an investment in software. I was recruited by Tom Hogan out of Vignette Corporation in Austin, TX. I joined their Executive Committee and worked there for about 3 years; learned a tremendous amount, it was a scrappy company. Even though it was publically traded it wasn’t like working for a $150 billion company like HP.
So it was a great experience and then I left Corporate America for the first time. I was recruited by Noel Tichy, who is a dear friend and mentor, to join the Leadership Academy Effort under Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein in New York to help to reform the educational system in New York City. I didn’t think I wanted to do that but I did and it was one of the best decisions I made. I learned a tremendous amount, not only about myself but about what I felt like my calling was. And I worked there for about 3 years in a nonprofit arena – which means nonprofit for moi – and so then I made the decision to go back into Corporate America and as Divine Provenance would have it I was recruited to United Health Group out of Minneapolis.
Leisa: Oh wow.
Kristin: I joined there as a group Vice President and I worked there for a couple of years; it was not a good fit for me culturally. I didn’t know that when I joined, I knew that about 2 weeks after I joined and I still weathered that career choice for 2 years. And then I made the decision to leave and I did what all daddies tell their little girls not to do, I left a job without having another job, right?
Leisa: Been there, done that.
Kristin: Been there, done that. I had a peace that passed all understanding and that was when I formed Alignment, Inc. And I really wanted to gear it toward helping individuals like me as well as executive committees like the ones that I had been a part of to become what I call aligned. So that’s how it all came to be.
Leisa: Wow, and just a quick postscript, what made you write the books?
Kristin: The books; well both of them were written obviously from an autobiographical perspective. The first one was a collection of stories that I had captured in journals all throughout my career as I travelled the globe running these large businesses and it was all about the people who bestowed wisdom upon me randomly. We all have people that cross our paths that bestow great wisdom on us, so that’s the first book. The second book is all about, again, people like you and me that are perhaps late in life – I’m 54 – and they may not have created the life they wanted up until now and I wanted to inspire them by writing stories of people who even post the age of 54 and beyond created lives that they had no conception of when they were younger. And their stories are remarkable and quite inspiring; so that’s how the second book came about.
Leisa: Thank you so much for sharing that with us. There you have it, another extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I’m Leisa Holland Nelson, President and Co-founder of ContentActive, Houston’s leading web and mobile technology company. You can find me at ContactActive.com or follow me on Twitter @LHNelson. We’ll be back again next week with another edition of Women Mean Business.
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