Even if it’s within a company, do something intrapreneurial, because if you don’t do that early on, it gets trained out of you.
There was a time in the mid-1990s when Lori Bush was concerned about the direction of her career. “I was very frustrated,” she recalls, “because I was watching my colleagues, my peers, being promoted to higher titles because they seemed to fit the corporate prototype.” She had a habit of tackling difficult projects that no one else wanted to touch, which didn’t fit in with the typical corporate resume progression.
Today she recognizes that not fitting in was the best thing that could have happened. “Ironically,” she says, “what I thought I wanted would have trained the courage out of me, to take on the crazy initiatives.”
Having started in medical technology product development, Ms. Bush earned an MBA at the Fox School in 1985 in order to make a career pivot. It was at Fox that she learned project work, marketing, leadership, and how she could apply aspects of scientific design to business challenges. She later went on to become president of NuSkin and CEO of Rodan + Fields, guiding the skincare company to an annualized run rate of over $1B in revenue. She retired in 2016 to Sonoma, Calif., where she remains involved in corporate board and advisory work and, with her husband, owns a vineyard, Gremlin Vines, and a restaurant, Oso Sonoma.
When Ms. Bush last spoke to Temple University’s League for Entrepreneurial Women, she told the students, “The most important thing, when you get started, is to find an opportunity to take something on, end-to-end, instead of just following a template. Even if it’s within a company, do something intrapreneurial, because if you don’t do that early on, it gets trained out of you.”
Ms. Bush says she’s seen many job applicants from large companies who lack the appetite for risk and uncertainty, where innovation resides. “They only know how to do what they’ve done,” she says, “as opposed to really finding the challenge and delight in that blank piece of paper, the blue ocean, in looking for what hasn’t been done before.”