Karen Clark Cole is the CEO and Co-Founder of Blink UX, a Seattle-based User Experience research and design firm. She studied fine arts and art history in her native Canada before the shift toward information technology and multimedia laid the groundwork for a career in UX, which is a type of design that encompasses an end user’s interaction with a company and satisfaction with its product or service. Karen is also the Founder and “Possibility Thinker” of Girls Can Do, a non-profit with a mission of encouraging young women to have big dreams and to pursue them. The organization provides positive role models who are everyday yet extraordinary women to teach girls about determination, resilience, and overcoming hardships to find success. She believes that all girls have the potential to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others if they are given opportunity and someone who believes in them. Karen is active in various business and advocacy organizations, and supports The Tronie Foundation in its mission to end human trafficking.
When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? It just happened, I didn’t plan it, I just took an opportunity and turned it into a business
Did your former career/job prepare you for running your own business? I was as practitioner first, so yes. Running the business was a growth in progress, I had and still have no business training or education
What makes you different from your competition? We started before the UX industry got going, so we were trail blazers. Now we have the most experience and reputation.
What has been your biggest challenge to date? Growing and keeping a company that everyone loves to work at. It takes daily nurturing and energy and loads of passion.
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? One year. The market was super hot and we were in the right place and the right time, ready to take it on.
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? With a lot of planning. I plan my week every weekend and I block time for thinking and planning time. I have certain days for lots of meetings, and other days for working on projects, writing, and deep thinking.
Tell us about a time when you thought you should throw in the towel. What kept you going? It has never gone that far. There are times that are trying when business is slow or employees aren’t a good fit, but it passes. Sometimes you have to take a break, go on vacation, go for a run, get some sleep, and then come back to it refreshed.
What three factors have most contributed to your success in business and in life? Passion, commitment, and being driven to make things better.
If you could have a one-on-one meeting with any woman, who would it be and why? What’s the first thing you would you ask her? Hillary Clinton. I’d like to know what drives her to make such a difference in the world and has fueled all these years in public service.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… A goat farmer and professional kite border.
I wish someone would have told me… That I was a leader and that bossy can be good.
I gave up ________ to pursue my dream: Canada! I left my home country to move to the US for more work opportunities.
The key to balancing it all is… Knowing priorities and being really, really focused on what is in front of you.
My biggest challenge is… Getting enough sleep. I have a lot going with running both a for profit company and nonprofit organization as well.
If I had to do it all over I would… Do it the same.
My proudest professional moment to date is… Being thanked for my passion.
The most important thing I have learned so far… Be real, with everyone, all the time.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
The three words that best describe me are… Passionate, fun, fully present.
My favorite place to go on vacation is… Cold places! I love to ski.
While on vacation I always… Do some kind of sport.
My favorite scent is… I’m allergic to perfume, so I don’t wear it.
My favorite movie is… Playing the Enemy (about Nelson Mandela and the SA rugby world cup win).
On my playlist right now is… Dave Matthews.
My favorite type of workout is… Running.
Being a mom and an entrepreneur means… An awesome combination of managing your own time and knowing that being a Mom is always #1.
One thing I hope to pass along to my children is… Love the life you live, live the life you love.
I am most proud of… My six-year-old daughter.
My favorite quote is… “Aliveness is the real enjoyment in doing what you do. It’s excitement…exhilaration that makes you feel glad to be alive. It’s the joy, stimulation, and pleasure that makes life worth living. The best way I’ve found to generate aliveness is to get someone to do what they really want to do…”
“…What you want to do is always your best option in life, because life appears to be set up for you to get what you want, IF you dare to want it. So, when you are making choices, do what you want most – NOT which choice makes the most sense.” -Anonymous
WHAT’S IN YOUR OFFICE?
Native art, paintings and photographs
Millions of colored sharpie pens, fountain pens, ink, and cards for handwritten notes.
And my office would not be complete without… My (stuffed) moose head.
Tell us what LIVING THE DREAM means to you: Being happy, living each and every day to the fullest, and making a difference in the world.
Want to connect with Karen?
Images: [Mark Gsellman]
Dreaming is great, but “doing” is where life begins.
What creative genius is living in you, just waiting to get out and make a difference in your world and the world around you? What’s stopping you from pursuing that big idea? What’s stopping you from taking the first step? We know you’ve been dreaming about something, and that’s where it all starts, but the real stuff happens when you take action.
We honestly believe the best place to start is by signing up for an ltdWORKSHOP! We’re not just tooting our own horn–read the comments at the bottom (way down there). Women who have come to an ltdWORKSHOP with an idea have left equipped with information about the viability of their idea, their target market and competition, how to budget and measure financial success, and how to engage with social media to gain the brand recognition they need to launch or grow their venture.
Still not sure? Email me, email@example.com with your questions or let’s set up a time to talk if that’s better for you–your call!
Want more details? Read on!
The ltdWORKSHOP is designed to help would-be entrepreneurs, writers, and creatives further develop their big ideas. You will walk away from our time together with a comprehensive action plan taking you from thought bubble to viable business, complete with the resources and strategies to make it all happen.
To allow for time to digest the information, and do a little homework, we meet once a week for three weeks. The schedule allows time to develop models, concepts, and strategies, better understand your market and how to connect with it, and discuss how to get the funds you need to start up.
The class size is intentionally small to provide each person the attention their venture deserves and the feedback necessary to further develop their business, brand, and bottom line, and ultimately launch (or relaunch) successfully.
You and Your BIG Idea: Getting your concepts in writing and developing your elevator pitch.
Welcome to Your World: Understanding your industry and competition.
Bull’s Eye: Identifying your target market.
From Strategy to Reality: Creating a strategy to both launch and operate your venture.
Make Some Noise: Communicating with your target market.
Get Some Attention: DIY Public Relations, branding, advertising and yelling from the mountaintop.
Rules of Engagement: Your virtual identity–building a website and social media presence that produces results.
Give Back: How to make a social difference with your venture when you’re a for-profit venture, and why it’s important.
Action Plan: Creating a living business plan (we’re talking 4 pages max!)
Raising Dough: Coming up with the funds you need through crowdfunding platforms, friends and family, and angels.
Make It, Track It, Keep It: Budgeting, sales forecasting and bookkeeping tools and tips.
People Skills: Building the team of people you need so you can work on your business, not just in it.
$500–that’s less than $29 an hour for launching your fabulous future! In addition to a crazy amount of content, the price also includes worksheets and other supplies needed throughout the class, a delicious gourmet lunch, and a few treats in your ltd goodie bag.
Click here to sign up for an ltdWORKSHOP
Still not sure? We get it! It’s an investment of time and money. Here are 10 reasons why we think it’s the best investment you’ll make for your future. Read what others have said about their ltdWORKSHOP experience with our founder, Nada Jones–it’ll give you a little more insight into what you can expect to walk away with.
1) “Nada Jones is water for the thirsty entrepreneurial soul. Her approach offers sound advice as to how you can turn your dreams into reality.” –Jill, Art Director at the Walt Disney Company and Fine Artist
2) “A businesswoman with a heart! Nada truly cares that your vision is carried out in a way that best suits your business and life goals. She is very good at helping you articulate your creative thoughts!” –Diane, Founder of Crushtique retail chain
3) “I was instantly drawn to Nada’s positive energy and startup knowledge. Her seminars are filled with valuable information, but the most important takeaway was the feeling that I too could have my own business.” –Tricia, Stylist
4) “I took Nada’s seminar and came away not only feeling confident in my ideas and ability to realize my entrepreneurial dreams, but with a confidence and renewed belief in myself as a person. Nada has a gentle and intuitive way of helping you uncover your own possibilities.” –Rebecca, Aspiring Entrepreneur
5) “Nada’s seminar was not only eye-opening from a social media perspective (what to do, what not to do) but it also encouraged me that I can do this. I was able to sift through what I did and did not what my business to look like, work with my partner on those things, plan for it and move forward. So worthwhile, so helpful…and the sense of camaraderie in that wonderful group of women was a testimony to Nada’s leadership that we women need to stick together to make our dreams a reality.” –Jill, Founder of Jill.Cate Design and Letterpress
6) “I appreciated Nada’s awareness and knowledge of simple, down-to-earth tools and applications to launch my vision. The clear framework she outlined on how to approach my venture was so accessible and her no-nonsense approach is refreshing. All of these, in parallel with her approachable personality, is a powerful force that has enabled me to dare to be different.” –Diane, V.P. Human Resources HP
7) “Nada’s wealth of knowledge regarding launching new businesses as well as her dynamic and engaging personality gave me hope and encouragement for my personal vision. I would highly recommend seizing the opportunity to take one of her workshops, if at all possible!” –Rosalind, Writer and Aspiring Children’s Book Author
8) “Nada Jones is an empowering voice–not just to women entrepreneurs, but to all women wanting to find meaning and make a contribution through their lives! Her wit and wisdom and personable style are not only encouraging but empowering! She is a force to be reckoned with!” –Pam, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Studies
9) “I loved Nada’s class. I have been to others that also have the exciting, inspired feeling, but the difference with her class is that you also gain tangible information and know-how to put into action immediately. You not only walk away each time inspired but with a new level of confidence that you can now achieve lift off.” -Ryan, Founder of Savoir Flair and Tin Parade
10) “I felt recharged and renewed after being with such fabulous budding entrepreneurs. Nada facilitated so well and she has the art of distilling a wide body of opinions/facts into a small set of salient take-aways. She also understands how to best utilize social media for your line of business, always with the bottom line in mind. You will leave motivated and much more informed than you dreamed when you walk out the door – ready to start your new venture!” -Tamara, Co-founder of Salt Ink & Press
Image: [Heather Kirsten]