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Shift Happens

Shift Happens: Creating exponential inclusion together

My mission now is to collaborate with social innovators, deep collaborators, DEIB activators, system thinkers, and action leaders to create movement on an exponential scale.

This week in my Strategic Leadership course at Stanford (LEAD Executive Program), I was asked to recall a moment in your career where your intended career path shifted based on unplanned external circumstances. I’m sharing my responses with you, friends of Exponential Inclusion, because it gives you a window into my vision for EXI.

What was your original goal?

I have had a few career path shifts over the last 20 years, yet there is a clear red/gold thread throughout my career portfolio when I look back and reflect. My original goal back in 2000 was to teach English to working adults – mainly immigrants and refugees based in the United States – so that they could thrive in a new country rather than just survive.

What external factors prompted discovery? What was discovered or what opportunity presented itself? Perhaps you discovered an unexpected affinity to a skillset or a new technology emerged that offered an opportunity.

Starting in 2002, I worked for a non-profit running a workplace English program for 9 years. During that time, I went back to school and received a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and received 3 promotions. The program I directed received national and international recognition. We became known in the field internationally for our innovative work. I was also published in an international journal for my research. I realized then that I wanted to make a positive impact on a global scale. This discovery started a process of learning and experimenting.

Fast forward 12 years, 2 kids, 1 business, and 3 jobs later…

The most recent shift, a shift that challenged me to fly new heights and to see a new future, happened in May 2021. Based on the year, one might think it was related to the pandemic. Although the pandemic supercharged my aspirations and provided the much needed rest and pause from work travel, the external factors that prompted my discovery included:

  • 3 company-wide layoffs in a matter of 6 months (and I joined 1 month before the first layoff)
  • Closing the biggest contract in company history – with no recognition or acknowledgment
  • Completing an intense 4-day certification in High Performance Coaching (that I personally paid for) and uncovering a new skill set

Encouragement from friends, mentors, and coaches helped me realize my skill set (coaching, consulting, facilitating, creating) and subject matter expertise (DEIB, social innovation, high performance) was unique and needed AND the time was right AND I was self-limiting my ambitions and dreams. I discovered it was my time to take the leap again and be the entrepreneur and leader that I am. I realized I was sitting in the shadows of two career burnouts, never allowing myself time to heal and reflect. I was allowing my talent to go untapped based on my own assumptions that I had failed in past roles (working 18-hour days, traveling often away from my family, hitting hierarchical roadblock upon roadblock).  I discovered new energy, passion, drive, knowledge, and strategy needed to start my current business – Exponential Inclusion. Most importantly, I rediscovered my passion and purpose – to teach people from all over the world to thrive and then to move humanity forward together.

What was the pivotal moment where you realized you questioned a key assumption about the original strategy?  Describe your process of sensemaking.

I remember the pivotal moment when this new reality hit me. I had to make sense of the intense feelings I had. This meant a huge shift for my career, for my family, and potentially for our livelihood.  I would be walking away from steady income during a pandemic. This decision had to be founded in the current reality… not just fueled by passion. My process included 1) researching competitors and collaborators, 2) weighing the pros and cons of staying in my current corporate role vs. leaving (and getting buy-in from my husband), 3) confirming a foundational source of income while scaling my new business, 4) creating the business model and initial financial forecasts, and 5) networking with potential collaborators and strategic partners.

This led me to question a key assumption I originally held. My original goal was to be an English language teacher…my assumption was that by teaching English I could help transform a few lives. I realized that my purpose was to serve humanity – helping ALL people who felt outcasted, alone, marginalized, or on the outside to feel like they belong and have the mindset, skillset, and toolset to thrive.

This is a massive goal. My mission now is to collaborate with social innovators, deep collaborators, DEIB activators, system thinkers, and action leaders to create movement on an exponential scale. Over the last 20 years, I have been discovering, testing, and iterating several models, frameworks, and hypotheses with incredible global partners and organizations around the world. We experimented with smaller consulting, training, and coaching projects to system-wide large scale ecosystem movements. I am ready to shift from building exponential inclusion deep in organizations exclusively to creating a network where individuals and organizations learn and grow together… making an exponential impact!

For further details or to schedule a complimentary 30 minute discussion with Kristin, please email us at Thanks


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