Name: Lacey Russell
Location: Atlanta, GA
Position: President of Try on Jobs
After working with her father for two years at Celebrate Strengths, the 25 year old marketing maven is launching her first product this Summer 2017. With her own vision and a killer tech platform she is changing how students, graduates and pretty much anyone can find their career path (or change it). We caught up with Lacey to hear how she found her real passion, keeps focused during hard times and juggles her many roles.
How did you get involved with Celebrate Strengths?
It all started when I realized I wasn’t passionate enough to keep pursuing my film degree. I had a speech class and for one of my projects I spoke about my dad’s company. I decided I wanted to learn more so that’s when I asked to intern for the summer.
You graduated Emerson College with a BA in Marketing, but did not pursue a position in your industry. Why?
I became passionate about working in my dad’s company when I was a Sophomore in college. From then on I interned every summer doing social media marketing, going to trade shows and attending every meeting my dad went to. Getting a marketing degree was a valuable skill for me to have if I eventually wanted to work in the company, so I decided to complete my marketing degree while also taking business classes.
When did you decide to take the leap into working for yourself?
During my senior year of college I realized I wanted to be a part of Celebrate Strengths. I loved how it changed people’s lives when they knew their strengths and I saw how we could make a difference in the world. I had known I always wanted to do something that helped people and it just so happened it was right under my nose.
What was the main challenge you faced as you were first starting out? How did you cope?
My biggest challenge was managing my own time and myself. It was easy to get distracted or be focused on a task that was not going to exactly going to move the company forward. It’s important to have a solid goal that you can put your effort into. Having too many directions to focus on can lead to slow progress and perhaps mediocre work instead of excellent work and fast progress. I had too many directions I was focusing on when I started. When I came up with the concept for Try On Jobs, it gave me a single goal I wanted to accomplish.
Why did you start Try on Jobs? Why focus on education?
I came up with Try On Jobs after hearing my friends and even strangers talk about figuring out what they wanted to do with their life. I listened to people at conferences, schools and networking events share how they wished they’d had more direction and knew their strengths earlier on in life.In our society, there has been a lot of focus on finding your passion and finding the right career. I noticed there weren't a lot of tools, if any, out there telling people how they would fit into a job. A lot of tools and resources were using generalized information. We are the generation of personalization and I knew our company had the capability to help people use actionable information to find their passion. I wanted everyone to have access to knowing their strengths and being empowered to make their own decisions.
What lessons have you learned about being a female entrepreneur?
I learned that even though you may have people believing in you and supporting you, YOU must be your biggest supporter. Everything comes down to having unwavering faith that you are meant to be doing what you’re doing. There will always be someone out there who disagrees with you or doesn’t believe in what you’re doing. Always trust yourself and never let anyone change what you believe.
You often have to wear many hats. How do you balance between those roles and goals?
I focus on what needs to be done to move the company forward. Whatever it takes and whatever task that is within my wheelhouse I will do. I have the mentality that if everyone in the company works together towards one goal, we can reach our goals. As we get ready to launch, I have had many different roles. Eventually I will move into one role, but will still keep the same “let’s get things done” mentality.
What advice do you have to stay organized and efficient?
My advice for staying organized would be to manage your time with a tool or method that works for you. Being consistent with a online tool does not work for me, so I use calendar alerts and I make lists on paper. Do your research and find a website or app that fits your needs.
What inspires you? How do you stay motivated?
The thing that inspires me to keep going even when times get tough or even tedious, is knowing that Try On Jobs can make a difference in people’s lives. That motivates me every time I might be having a bad day. I think of how many friends and people that can benefit from this product and it keeps me going.
What advice do you have on how to finance and budget when running your own business?
Since financing is not my strength we have someone in our company to do that. I think it is good to have a base knowledge for yourself, but it is also good to delegate to people who know more than you.
What’s your best advice for finding a career mentor? Who do you consider yours to be?
Your mentor could be a parent, a family member or someone through a mentoring program. It is even better to have a few so that you have different perspectives. Sometimes they are there to give you advice and sometimes they are there just to listen and ask questions. There are websites that find mentors for you or networking events where you can meet a mentor. My dad is certainly my mentor. I also have two others I discuss business with and ask for advice. I would even say my best friend is also my mentor. The more smart and supportive people around you, the easier your life will be.
Your favorite way to unwind?
Playing soccer, taking a walk or hanging out with friends.
Describe your perfect Atlanta day.
I’d say any day that involves being with good people and eating good food.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be any why?
I’d have lunch with Amy Poehler. She’s a woman I look up to, not just because of her amazing character, Leslie Knop, but because of what she’s accomplished in her own life. I’d love to meet her one day.
Your go-to items to get you through the day?
Discussing ideas with friends, coffee, and a good breakfast.