Pivot Points

The business bug bit me at age 10. That’s when I stole rose petals from my mother’s prized bushes, repurposing them as “perfume,” scented water, which I sold to her friends for a dime a vial. Even then I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

A few decades later, after earning degrees from Howard University and Harvard Business School, creating and servicing multimillion-dollar brands and accounts for Bloomingdale’s, Gillette, Pillsbury, Burrell Communications, and L’Oreal, I decided to leverage my skills and experience toward my own dream: launching a national food company selling pound cakes using my own recipes. Despite my seasoned marketing and sales experience, banks nixed my business plan. It was time to pivot.

So, with the blessings of my two teens, I sold our home, using the equity to launch The ComfortCake Company. Soon, we had United Airlines, Walmart, and Home Shopping Network as customers.

Success, though, doesn’t mean you’re done pivoting, as COVID-19 so rudely demonstrated. Many Americans are emerging from this crisis with a much different perspective. Over the years, I’ve also had to reinvent myself, and became a master of resilience.

Trust your experience
Much of what I’ve learned about pivoting hasn’t come from an Ivy League business school. It came from trench experience— that juxtaposition between faith and trust. With faith, we operate from the position that something’s going to happen when we don’t have proof that it will.

Trust is different. We can trust in someone because they’ve proven to us that they’re going to be there. This is where we can look over our life and say, “What have I done in the past that was hard?” Truth is, we’ve been able to pivot before and we’ve come out OK. When pivoting is needed, we can go back to the place where we previously combined trust with faith.

Sixteen years ago, I wrote a guidebook, Tap Into your Juice: Find Your Gifts, Lose Your Fears and Build Your Dreams, which earned an endorsement from Michelle Obama. The guidebook features 10 critical pivots to help people move forward. My new book, Pivot for Success: Hone Your Vision, Shift Your Energy, Make Your Move, builds on those principles.

The 10 Pivot Points are:
Finding your purpose
Believing in possibilities
Defining your priorities
Envisioning prosperity
Getting prepared
Having patience
Seeking positivity
Honoring your passion
Maintaining perseverance
Managing perceptions

These pivot points are universal. They are flexible. They are practical for any stage of life, whether starting out, peaking, or in the final act. And they work.
The 10-year-old child pivoting to an entrepreneur selling pound cakes is testimony to that.

Amy S. Hilliard has served as a senior corporate executive and entrepreneur. She is the founder of The Hilliard Group, a strategic marketing, consulting, and speaking company, and CEO of The ComfortCake Company, which licenses its intellectual property to food corporations.