the ceo magazine, managing change,
Jody B. Miller, CEO, C2C Executive Search & Strategic Management

Jerry Colonna was a Venture Capitalist, Co-Founder of Flatiron Partners and later a key executive of JP Morgan Chase’s Private Equity arm. An investment in your company by Jerry and his team meant that you were officially valuable. Your company could potentially become the next big sale or even IPO.

Some of the companies Jerry and his colleagues invested in at Flatiron included: Geocities Inc., Gamesville Inc., Vertical One Inc., and The New York Times Digital. While at JPMP, leaders like ProfitLogic were high on the investment list. ProfitLogic eventually sold to Oracle.

Upside Magazine named Jerry to its list of the 100 Most Influential People of the New Economy. 100 Most Influential People of the New Economy. Forbes ASAP listed him among its best VCs in the country.

When Jerry was involved, management teams were elated. This meant not only money, but also help building a Board of Directors, a potential ramp in customer base, a higher valuation, future investment rounds and more. But if you were the CEO of a company that was off the grid—well, good luck. It was hard to get a meeting with Jerry, unless you knew someone who knew someone who knew Jerry.

Yet, amidst the chaos and excitement of being one of the most sought after financiers in the country, on the inside, Jerry was miserable.

“I was depressed. It’s nothing I wouldn’t say in public.”[1]

Being the intuitive type, Jerry knew something was wrong and that if he didn’t get out soon, he would die.

The WHY of making a shift in our career happens for many reasons. Brad Feld, another leading Venture Capitalist and Co-Founder of The Foundry Group puts it this way:

“While we occasionally know what shift to make, more often it confronts us and smacks us in the forehead.”[2]

Jerry felt so strongly that he had to make a change. Even after helping launch the first 911 Financial Recovery Fund, which gave over $10 million in recoverable grants to businesses impacted by the World Trade Center attacks, and being named to Worth's list of the 25 Most Generous Young Americans, he still had more questions than answers.

Jerry up and quit. He figured that he’d sort it out later. He went to bed one night a highly regarded Venture Capital Titan and woke up Jerry. Just Jerry.

“My new routine took a while to get used to,” he recalls. He describes it like this:

  • Wake up early
  • Freak Out That I Left a Great Job
  • Exercise
  • Stare at Computer—Look at Emails
  • Begin to Slow Down from a Lightning Speed Life
  • Start Taking Vitamins to Feel Better Physically
  • Sublease an Office at a Non-Profit
  • Still Maintain 20 Board Seats—Unplug?
  • Dress Up in Khakis and Go into Manhattan—What Am I Doing Here?
  • Start to Wander…
  • Work with Depression…Exhausting…Could Use a Nap
  • Begin Dance Therapy—Love to Dance!
  • Start Writing
  • Let My Mind Think of New Possibilities
  • Maybe I Should Coach Entrepreneurs?

As Brad says, change can be sudden, or a process. Sometimes, all or part of it happens at once. Other times, it is gradual or even a combination of the two.

For Jerry, you can see the big and small steps he took that shifted him from a very external world to an internal world.

When you think of your company and your role in it, it is important to dig deep so that you can be the best leader possible. Maybe you’re not meant to be in the role you have now as your company grows. I have a feeling that you know the answer. And if you put ego aside, you will see that embracing change can lead not only to making you a better leader, but a better person.  

The next question becomes: Do you make a radical shift or do it gradually? If you decide that you are not happy, like Jerry, then it might be time for you to do something about it.

Regardless of how quickly or methodically you shift, you cannot give up if you drift or stumble along the way or need to shift some more to fine-tune your path.

Jerry discovered Buddhism and embraced its simplicity and meaningful approach to life. He became more introspective and honest with himself as a person and a leader.

Jerry embraced change, even though he had no idea where he’d end up.

The best part of Jerry’s story is that he listened to himself and realized that he was the happiest when he was coaching entrepreneurs. As a result he went on to co-found Reboot.

If your organization needs to not only strategize about growth, but also to dive deep into what you are about as people, leaders and a company, Jerry’s team will take you there. But don’t expect it to be all about money and expansion. It will be more about you. In embracing who you are now and who you may want to become, you will uncover the essence of success—just like Jerry.


About the Author

Career and Life Coach Jody B. Miller is author of the new book “From DRIFT to SHIFT: How Change Can Bring True Meaning and Happiness to Your Work and Life.” As CEO of C2C Executive Search & Strategic Management, Jody has helped thousands of people find true meaning in their work and in their lives. Learn more at www.JodyBMiller.com

[1] (Excerpt from “From Drift to Shift: How Change Can Bring True Meaning and Happiness to Your Work and Life,” Morgan James Publishing)

[2] (Excerpt from “From Drift to Shift: How Change Can Bring True Meaning and Happiness to Your Work and Life,” Morgan James Publishing)

[3] (Excerpt from “From Drift to Shift: How Change Can Bring True Meaning and Happiness to Your Work and Life,” Morgan James Publishing)

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