A GGTW Success Story by Leonardia Hardy
If you had told me five years ago that I would be working at a startup, I probably would have had a nice laugh. Number one, I honestly wasn’t sure what “startup” meant. And number two, working in a company like that wasn’t a part of my master plan.
Funny thing about life though, it tends to throw a wrench or two in your plan. The one that brought me to where I am now started with one small step after I suffered a devastating loss last year.
On February 5th, 2018, my life changed forever when I lost my dad. It was an emotionally devastating blow to enter a hospital as a family of four and leave as a family of three. My entire world as I knew it fell apart that day.
Originally my master plan was to attend grad school, but I had happily placed it on the back burner when I decided to be around for my dad after his health took a bad turn. To this day, that is a choice I do not regret. But after losing someone so important and integral to my life, I was forced to ask myself staggering questions.
Well, what do I do now? What do I really want? Do I really want to go to grad school to continue studies in music? Do I want to move from where I’ve spent the majority of my life?
My parents had always been big on instilling the lesson of self-sufficiency and making sure you can take care of yourself. It made sense that my mom was the one who gently pushed me to investigate the answers to my new questions.
Grad school was a legitimate choice again. I thought about it seriously and started down that path. I sent out applications, recorded auditions, and spent all my free time practicing. Decisions from the admissions committees began rolling in: “No thank you, but please try again next year!” “Not this year, but maybe next.”
Getting all of those “No, try again” responses were definitely blows to my ego and self-esteem. In the end, I was ok because I had tried and that’s better than doing nothing. (And who knows? Maybe one day I will try again!)
More importantly though, I realized that those responses presented me with a chance to pivot and try something new. I decided to search for career opportunities outside of the music arena. I sent off an application to a startup that was based an hour and a half from where I lived, and waited to see what might happen.
I was excited by this new prospect for my future and attempted to keep my feet on the ground. But when I received the first communication from them, (and it wasn’t “No thank you, please try again”), I will admit I could feel my excitement growing. I responded back as quickly as I could and waited for what would come next. The next reply let me know that I was moving to the next level. Even though my enthusiasm increased further still, I tried to not plan too far ahead. I had learned first-hand through the loss of my dad that what you may plan for your future doesn’t always play out.
By the time I received an invitation for a face-to-face interview, I was ecstatic. I thought working there was where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in this new life I was creating for myself. I realized that if their final response ended up being a no (try again!) I was going to be disappointed.
After the in-person interview, I called my mom to tell her how much I wanted to work at the startup company. Although working there meant moving away from everything I knew, that didn’t matter to me. I just knew I wanted to be a part of what they were creating. I was beginning to feel that same hunger and drive I had felt in the months before, prepping for grad school auditions.
The day I received a call back, my heart dropped into my stomach as I picked up the phone. At first I wasn’t sure where the conversation was going, but then I heard the words, “We would like to offer you the position.” I was over the moon and could not stop smiling! I promptly walked into my job and gave my two weeks notice.
Those next two weeks were the longest and shortest of my life, as I prepped to move to a new city and start a whole new career. I would be lying if I said it was all cupcakes and rainbows after that. I definitely had to shift my mindset from being in a traditional corporate atmosphere to the atmosphere and mentality of a startup. During my first few weeks, I was asking permission to do anything and everything, and I didn’t have much confidence in myself or my abilities. Time and time again the CEO, president, and my manager would tell me they brought me on because they believed in me. I just had to find that belief in myself.
One-on-one meetings with my manager and our president eventually helped my confidence increase. In these sessions we would go over my tasks, what I had done well and what I could improve upon. I realized how much they wanted to see me grow into my full potential. Our president—who also has a background in the performing arts—knew exactly how to provide extra support and encourage my drive to succeed.
One year in and I’m still growing. I speak with confidence; they still believe in me; and now, I believe in myself. I continue to have opportunities to grow my confidence, and my skills are being pushed to the next level. I look forward to my future and am learning that as long as you are willing to bend and pivot when needed, you will find your success!
Leonardia Hardy spent the majority of her childhood and adulthood in Mason and Monroe, Ohio, to be near her parents and her twin brother Leonard. The twins grew up taking music lessons and Leonardia eventually carried this passion into her studies at the University of Dayton. This blog post chronicles her recent move to Columbus to join the startup ScriptDrop, where she has discovered her passion for training, developing and empowering her coworkers. In her free time, Leonardia enjoys investigating new restaurants and recipes with her boyfriend Jesse.