In Pivot I ask what your sliding doors career/s might be: in a parallel universe, if time, money and judgement from others were not a factor, what other career paths could you see yourself taking?
I play this game with friends even while going about life in New York, calling out alternate reality careers when I see them. For example, in one scenario I’m a book-color-coding consultant for wealthy people's personal libraries, traveling up and down Manhattan and beautifying their bookshelves.
Another title that always fascinated me: Chief Operations Officer. All those logistics and systems and processes, oh my! So I was thrilled to discover this week’s guest, Lauren Letta, who serves in that very role at charity: water. In this conversation we explore what it means to organize an entire rapidly-growing organization, why role labels are overrated, her best strategies for building scalable systems, and how to be open to pivoting within a company even before you can spot specific opportunities.
This episode also coincides with World Water Day, a United Nations observance day to increase global knowledge about water related issues, coming up on March 22! In honor of this, charity: water invites you to join The Spring, their monthly giving program where you can give the gift of clean water.
More About Lauren
As chief operating officer, Lauren Letta oversees all of charity: water’s day-to-day operations and is responsible for building a company culture and ecosystem that promotes growth and learning within the organization. Lauren first joined charity: water in 2009 as a consultant, drawn in by the organization’s creative, startup-like approach to solving a humanitarian crisis. Prior to joining charity: water, Lauren worked in fashion and events, managing global campaigns for brands like Warner Bros., Saks Fifth Avenue, and Swarovski.
She was inspired by charity: water’s mission to not only bring clean water to people in developing nations but also to change the way people think about giving. Since then, Lauren’s role has expanded to include overseeing major campaigns, special projects and production, and she has built a team and a culture that values excellence and remains as committed to its mission 11 years in as it was on day one.
Topics We Cover
- What are your ninja skills that make you great at your role?
- How do you organize an organization?
- Focus on the type of people and skills and the types of thinkers that we need today and what does it look like tomorrow, not focusing only on the role
- Roles and labels do not necessarily matter when you can use your skills to help grow the company
- Infrastructure challenges; why they will never be fully over, constantly evolving and learning and trying to be better
- What helps her stay grounded in a rapidly changing environment
- Pivot is not always obvious, you need to create the space around you to fully realize what you want and if a Pivot is necessary
- Listening and being around people you admire will help you see Pivots you may have not seen before
- Take time away from work throughout the year to be able to explore what's next
Podcast: Inside the Mindset, Systems and Strategies of charity: water's Chief Operating Officer Lauren Letta
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