Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jay Guilford, Founder of CoWorks Leadership Strategists, located in Las Vegas, NV, USA
What's your business, and who are your customers?
CoWorks is a black-owned consultancy firm providing training and other leadership solutions to executives and teams who are ready to take collaboration, communication, and trust to the next level. Our team of trainers is from Google, Deloitte, Zappos, Cirque du Soleil, and other high-performing companies. We help individuals and teams power up their leadership skills.
We currently offer virtual or in-person talks and workshops on the topics below.
- Getting "Woke" at Work: New Perspectives to Refresh and Transform Your DEI Initiatives
- Lead from Anywhere: Tools to Engage Employees and Maximize Results in Hybrid, Return-to-Office, and Work-From-Anywhere Arrangements
- Create-Ovation: Three Keys to Harnessing Creativity and Innovation Among Leaders and Teams
Tell us about yourself
Long ago, in a land far, far away, I ran away with Cirque du Soleil. There, I created Cirque's leadership training program — SPARK. With SPARK, the Cirque team and I strapped executives into circus equipment and flew them high across Cirque du Soleil's theaters and training studios. Instead of simply talking about trust, teamwork, and healthy risk-taking, executives experienced these concepts in real-time.
In 2018, I left Cirque to found CoWorks Leadership Strategists. My goal has always been to make work more than merely a means to an end but a source of inspiration and growth. Because leaders have a huge impact on the way other employees experience work, at CoWorks, we focus on upskilling executives and other people leaders inside of organizations.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment would be my work with founders and namesakes. In addition to working with teams from "big-box brands," I've had the good great fortune of acting as a trusted advisor to founders -- people who have their names on buildings and equipment and items we see on store shelves. In this capacity, I've been able to work with these leaders to exact change at the highest levels of their organization.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Staying true to your purpose can be challenging but is also absolutely essential. In our work, my team and I have had to turn away business -- and revenue -- when we've found that our aims do not align with those of potential clients. Both CoWorks and the potential client may have worthy goals -- but they have simply been pointing in opposite directions. Clients trust you when you are honest and forthright. We've had to say, "We don't tackle that specific area...but here are a few people and organizations that can better help you." This transparency has earned us more goodwill and has created more long-term relationships than force-fitting our services in ways that do not meet the client's needs.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know the true "why" behind your business "what." For example, what we do at CoWorks is train leaders. Why we do this is because we think work should be engaging and enjoyable, and we think leaders can directly improve work-life for employees. This is inspired by Simon Sinek's book and talk, "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action."
- Develop your expertise. Certification and continued professional growth have been critical to our success at CoWorks. My consulting partners and I continue to seek the training, certifications, and knowledge that will keep our work contemporary and cutting edge. Ask yourself, "What core skills do I need in my industry? How do I stay current in my knowledge and skill set?"
- Protect your positivity. In business ownership, you will endure a lot of weather. Sometimes there will be sunshine and, at other times, there will be rain. Remember, meeting challenges are a natural part of growth as a business owner. Never mistake the natural bumps in the road that all new business owners face for roadblocks that prevent you from accomplishing your goals.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If relevant, you can share my video that gives an overview of why I think every organization should focus on leaders.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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