Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in organizational development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Trina Olson, CEO and Co-Founder of Team Dynamics, located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Team Dynamics is a national strategy firm focused on helping US-based businesses and organizations live their race and gender justice values in their day-to-day work. Through training, coaching, retreats, and cohorts, we build relationships with leaders who are interested in effectively leading across meaningful lines of difference. Since 2017 we have supported 18 different industries all around the country. Our clients are people who are curious about trying out better best practices. The leaders we work with are interested in being part of real solutions - closing all the equity gaps that we can in our lifetime!
Tell us about yourself
I'm a white, cisgender, 42-year-old, queer, single, woman. I was raised Christian, have a hidden disability, was born in the US, am a monolingual English speaker, and have changed economic class in my lifetime. My professional bio would show you that for the past 20 years, I have leveraged those realities to learn all I can about how policies, practices, and being at work is core to how so many of us experience our lives. I grew up in a family that spoke about politics around the dinner table and was curious about the gaps in people and communities caring for one another. I fancy myself a progressive issue mutt, having worked on campaigns centered on healthcare, hunger, living wage, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and comprehensive immigration reform.
After serving as a nonprofit executive director twice, I was feeling called towards a career where I'd be able to utilize everything I'd been taught by movement leaders and elders in a way that could put race and gender justice at the center. At that same time, I was getting divorced, and Trump was getting elected. Luckily, my movement network was very strong, and I began coaching and training alongside Alfonso Wenker, soon to become my co-founder of Team Dynamics and now one of my very best friends.
What motivates me each day is working to support leaders who are genuinely trying to live into a new and better future. The risks they take and the vulnerability they show inspires me to make new tools, create new opportunities, and share examples of what truly is possible for workplaces to live in better alignment with their race and gender equity values.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Thus far, I'm most proud of Alfonso and I for co-writing and getting our book into the world: "Hiring Revolution: A Guide to Disrupt Racism and Sexism in Hiring." The response has been really beautiful, and it was such a labor of love. We are going to kick off a companion in-person retreat Spring of 2023, which I'm also very excited about!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Navigating the creative constraints of capitalism, cash, and benefits. There is a lot to learn that is beyond just how to move toward your mission. I was grateful to be part of Lunar Startups here in the Twin Cities early in the life of our business - which is a program designed to support People of Color, women, and LGBTQ+ business owners. I learned so much from that group of peers - lessons I still use to this day!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- I strongly recommend having a fabulous co-founder :) It's game-changing to have a person to bounce everything off of and make tough decisions together. We invest in our co-founder relationship quite a bit - which I recommend as well.
- Trust that you are a great bet! In some ways, it felt like taking a big leap to become an entrepreneur, but in retrospect, it was so much safer to take my future into my own hands and do what I could to live towards my talent, passion, and training. If you have naysayers in your world at the moment, tell them lovingly to pipe down - you're busy being called to build out your dream!
- Be flexible - pay attention to your ever-changing context and be willing to pivot as new opportunities and challenges will inevitably arise. Don't stay too attached or rigid to single ways of making your dream come true. Get creative, put in the work, and ask for lots of help along the way! It takes a big team of smart people to get a business up and running.
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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