After years serving as the leader of people operations for one of the nation’s fastest-growing media companies, Inspiration Lab member – and emcee of our 2019 conference! – Katherine Daniel now shows other growth-minded businesses the secret to increased productivity: employee satisfaction and engagement. But the decision to strike out on her own was a BIG one. Here Katherine explains how she confidently made the choice to bet on herself with Montani Consulting.
I, Katherine Daniel, am a concert fanatic. Seriously, if I could attend a show every single weekend, I would. Now that I think about it, there were some months (pre-COVID) when this was the case. Ah, the good ‘ol days.
Lawn seats in an outdoor arena? Count me in.
A high-top table in a music lounge? Love it.
Standing-room only on the floor of a coliseum? Bring it on!
As long as I’m present for live music in some kind of venue or forum, I’m happy. But here’s what I’ve learned: Nothing can beat a front-row seat. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the amazing work of some of my favorite musical acts up close and it is incredibly inspiring.
The same can be said about the entrepreneurs I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. I’ve had a front-row seat to people who wholeheartedly bet on themselves and believed in the value they could offer the world. Seeing this level of confidence and courage up close was just the ticket (pun intended) I needed.
After years of working alongside these entrepreneurial leaders, I decided to launch my own company. And to be honest, it didn’t feel like a giant, scary leap of faith. In fact, there was no doubt in my mind I was ready for it.
How did I know I could bet on myself? Not only was I immensely inspired by the entrepreneurs in my life, but I had three other things going for me.
I possess a relentless work ethic that I know won’t fail me.
I’ve built a network of people who understand my strengths.
I have a deep passion for the work I do.
I’ll come right out and admit it: I’m dedicated... to a fault.
In all my years of supporting entrepreneurs, I’ve been that passionate team member who works tirelessly to contribute to the cause. I’ve been known to run 100 miles an hour, nonstop, day after day, because I believe in a mission or purpose so immensely. Take it from me — it’s a blessing and a curse.
In my last partnership with an entrepreneur, my hustle was rewarded with the opportunity to follow my intuition and create out-of-the-ordinary internal human resources programs. These initiatives were based on the concept of “people operations,” a more strategic, holistic approach to HR where you recognize and focus on the importance of an organization’s people because their engagement, productivity, and fulfillment ultimately affect every other aspect of the business.
The programs I instituted not only led to national recognition from major media brands, but ultimately helped the company grow and achieve massive success. So it begged the question, “What’s stopping me from doing this myself?”
I saw what my work ethic achieved for the leaders I worked under. It was clear that the same energy and passion could just as easily allow me to reach my own professional aspirations.
I also had a safety net – well, a launching pad, really. My social network.
I don’t mean superficial connections from a passing Facebook “like” or LinkedIn connection, but an actual network of people I’ve met and worked beside over the years. This Rolodex didn’t come about by accident. Building a strong network of people who know my skills and all I bring to the table takes intentionality and authenticity. Having people in your corner always pays off. Plus, who doesn’t want to make new friends?
Thanks to the relationships I’ve built and enjoyed over the years, a few intriguing opportunities came my way as soon as I began sharing my business ambitions. Knowing friends and colleagues would enthusiastically recommend my services to people in their circles made my decision to branch out on my own that much easier.
Last, but certainly not least, I knew I could bet on myself because I absolutely love what I do.
I believe people operations is unique, though it’s now accepted and understood by more and more companies (think Apple and Google). Prior to launching Montani Consulting, I was putting people ops ideas into practice without realizing there was even a name for it.
All those years ago, going beyond general HR and creating programs that really prioritized the experience of the employee was a novel idea I thought could really pay off – for team members and company leaders alike. Today, nearly 10 years after following that intuition and beginning to implement custom people operations strategies, I recognize its power. So, again, I asked myself a question: “Why limit my impact to a single organization when I have the potential to help so many others?”
In June, I finally bet on myself and officially launched Montani Consulting. It’s taken a lot of hard work, networking, and passion for me to find my way here. But I know I couldn’t have made it if it weren’t for my front-row seats to the inspiring leaders who were willing to bet on me first. So now as I embark on a journey to help many people at many companies, I won't forget the ones that led me on this path. They bet on me first and now I'm excited to bet on myself too.