Do You Have What It Takes to be an Intra-preneur?

One of my favorite TED talks is Angela Lee Duckworth’s Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance.


Grit, as Duckworth defines it, is a combination of passion and perseverance over long periods of time, as in years, or even a lifetime. Grit was the strongest predictor of success when compared to other variables ranging from IQ and attractiveness to emotional intelligence and feelings of safety at school or work.


Although she doesn’t specifically discuss it in her TED talk, I’m pretty sure grit is a primary factor in success as an entrepreneur.


Speaking from 15+ years of experience there, it’s the passion for your vision and commitment to seeing it through that enable you to weather the often long and lean startup years, and the unpredictability of month-to-month changes in revenue that may dictate not just what your paycheck looks like, but whether or not you get one at all.


But I’m also pretty sure that grit is a primary factor in success as an INtra-preneur. In case that’s not a term you’re familiar with, an intrapreneur is an employee (manager or otherwise) who promotes innovative products, services, programs and ideas within the organization itself.


A prime example of grit in intrapreneurship is Dina Pokedoff, Senior Vice President of Communications at Kuehne + Nagel.


Not only is Dina the first person to inhabit the newly created role of SVP of Communications for all of North America for the global firm (~80,000 employees in 100 countries!), but in this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence, she shares how she’s taken the helm to begin a veritable sea change in company culture by making DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) a daily part of company discourse, where there had been no company-wide initiative to date.


Each step may feel small unto itself, but as the ancient Chinese proverb by Lao Tzu says, “A journey of a thousand leagues starts with a single step.”


Getting buy-in and inviting participation into events to inspire curiosity and interest in others is a major first step. Scaling it to the entire North American branch (again, we’re talking tens of thousands of people) makes a full Iron Man triathlon look easy.


But I for one am confident that she’s up for the challenge.


(Oh – did I mention Dina ran her first marathon at age 50 and has been competing in triathlons since then? Like I said, she’s got serious grit…)


Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on YouTube here.



Dina also gave great advice regarding what it takes to successfully climb the career ladder, including:


  • The importance of being seen and known
  • Being resourceful, and accepting new challenges
  • Being willing to “figure it out” even if you don’t have all the knowledge and skills right from the start
  • Knowing when to take calculated risks, and learn from failures (FAIL = “First Attempt In Learning”)


And more.


Of course, not every challenge in life needs to be weathered alone in gritty silence. Sometimes having the right resources and companions can grease the skids a bit and make for a much smoother and easier journey.


In the next few weeks I’ll be launching a new group coaching program for those who want to master their own powers of leadership communication and influence along with other like-minded leaders to encourage and motivate each other along the way.


Shifting continental gears in my proverbs, as the Swahili proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”


More information soon on how to join us on the success journey, honing your confidence, presence and influence while learning with and from others, and having fun in the process.


What could be better than that? Stay tuned…