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Profiles In Success - Kelli Schutrop, Founder & CEO, Thoughtful Resound

Content Marketing

Success is hard to obtain and more elusive to define. But wow, when we can grasp just a bit of it, well, there’s nothing like it. In fact, success is a human emotion that causes our brains to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation. 

Besides making us feel good, success in any activity also strengthens our sense of competence, which further motivates and encourages us to continue engaging in the activity. All of this, in turn, leads to enjoyment in the activity.

And who couldn’t use a little more enjoyment?

That’s why we’re excited to introduce “Profiles in Success,” insights and perspectives from geographically and industry-diverse business leaders on their own definition of success, how they know they obtained it, and lessons learned along the way.

And kicking off this series is Kelli Schutrop, Founder & CEO, Thoughtful Resound.

How would you define success in relation to your career journey and has it changed over time?

I've always viewed success as a state of forward momentum. Early in college, I took on leadership opportunities, internships, and sought out informational interviews to expand my network and progress my knowledge of different spaces -- all to identify what I wanted to do more of in my next roles.

I think that's what "success" is all about - stepping into more and more of what you are passionate about and good at -- with each new opportunity.

When I came across the concept of "Ikigai" it summed it up perfectly. I love the idea of finding the intersection of doing 1) what you love, 2) what the world needs, 3) what you can be paid for, and of course 4) what you're good at. I believe this Japanese term is really what everyone is looking for in their career journey at the end of the day.

I feel fortunate to have found this early on, first with managing marketing for growing businesses, second with consultative selling, and now third with offering consulting services around these two areas of focus!

Do you remember your first professional success, and if so, what was it?

I'm a glass-half-full kind of person, as well as an achiever, so when these "professional success" moments happen, I tuck them away to think back on. One that comes to mind was when I was hired as a marketing contractor at a big advertising agency in town. I was asked to facilitate their annual award show submission process from an internal content perspective.

Being three months out of school at the time, the concept of getting VPs from each of the ad agency's divisions into a room multiple times a week for them to talk about different client wins, and then get those discussions into written format for the award submissions, was a cool experience. When the project was done, they unexpectedly gave me a hand-written card, signed by the full team of VPs, and a gift card to a spa, thanking me for my attention to the project. It was a pretty memorable moment!

Do you attribute your successes to following a strategy or plan, or are they a result of timing and circumstance?

I tend to have my next step in mind from a career perspective. Whether that's the next title, next challenge, or next adventure completely. At times it's been very clear, but most often it's evolved over time.

In each of my roles throughout my career, aside from one of my internships, I have been the ONLY person in my seat. Without peers next to me to evaluate where I run in the pack, I've always had this fire to drive forward and advocate for my growth. I also enjoy taking on new challenges, so that has created a natural forward momentum as well.

My mindset has aways been, I want to do more and more of what I enjoy and I'm good at in my next role. And that mindset has created forward momentum, sometimes in directions I would not have anticipated initially. Such as making a move from marketing to consultative selling. Or into running my own fractional sales and marketing leadership consulting firm.

I also find such value in mentorship and asking others who have gone before me - and whom have watched my career develop.

How do you know when you've succeeded?

Loaded question. But if we approach it practically, it comes down to two things: 1) Have I accomplished what I set out to do? Whether that's a project, tacking a new role, etc; and 2) Have I learned something from this I can take into my next set of experiences?

Some experiences don't feel like successes at face value. But when you look at what you've gained in context, expertise, knowledge - it's worth it.

Has a past mentor shared valuable insight on success, or do you have a key learning on success that you'd like to share?

I have been blessed to have a few amazing individuals mentor me over the years, including one who has been my mentor for the past 12+ years. One great element I've gleaned from those conversations is to be mindful of what a business needs. If you're looking for "success" in your career, but it's not aligned to what the business you're a part of (or space you're looking to break into) cares about, then it will be an uphill battle. Find out what drives business growth, and get close to it. The more you impact that growth, the more success you'll experience.

Connect with Kelly on LinkedIn.

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