Kristine Bryant is the CEO of Gladiator Consulting and Chief Marketing Officer of Ads For The Road. As the CEO of Gladiator Consulting she prioritizes efficiency, working thoroughly and continuously to ensure a complete understanding of the small businesses and entrepreneurs she works with. Kristine’s commitment to success, coupled with her talents as a businesswoman, ensures the quality work needed for consulting with her clients. Her numerous achievements are indicative of the value and excellence she demonstrates every day.
How do you define a successful Career?
A successful career is one in which you have the freedom to pursue the tasks and objectives that you are passionate about. For me, I feel successful at work when I help my clients reach the goals that we defined together. Overall, I believe that a career can be considered successful if the individual or the organization has been able to achieve balance between work and life, profit and charity.
What advice do you give others to ensure that they are maximizing their potential for a successful career?
If you are not doing something you love and/or are passionate about, you need to find a different path.
Make sure that every day, you can look back and feel good about what you have accomplished and know that you could do the same tasks again the next day if necessary.
Always, always, always keep learning new things. Find every opportunity to take on new challenges – and whether you succeed or fail, learn.
What are the greatest challenges you have faced as you changed from bioscience to technology career fields?
It was very important to me to create credibility for myself in industries where people may have felt that I was under-equipped or unqualified. One way I did that was by earning an MBA at The University of Texas at Austin – McCombs School of Business. Another way was by being thoroughly prepared for scheduled meetings. I always do my “homework” and research the organizations and people that I meet so that I can ask intelligent questions, demonstrate knowledge of their industry, and provide valuable insights from a new perspective.
As Gladiator’s client list grows, it is more evidence that I am flexible and capable of applying my talents in a variety of industries – but maintaining credibility, being unfailingly honest and not shying away from difficult conversations have been of paramount importance.
And, as much as this is always the elephant in the room, as a woman, mother and entrepreneur who tends to work in male-dominated industries – balancing “who I am” with “what I do” and defying the expectations and perceptions of clients and colleagues has always been and will continue to be a challenge.
What is something that you feel you see differently in business and/or life as a result of having been in both startup and non-startup environments?
I recognize and appreciate the bravery and adaptability that I see in the start-up environment. I am not a natural risk-taker and it has been a very long process for me to become more comfortable with rapid changes. I am a planner. I am an organizer. I am a researcher. I like for things to be laid out and accomplished step by step. But by working in the start-up environment I have learned that sometimes a leap of faith is necessary. There are times when skipping steps, pivoting into a new direction, or finding an innovative way to accomplish something are the difference between moving forward and getting stuck.
And, having recognized these things about the start-up environment, it is very easy to look back on my corporate jobs and identify the things that are most different. The bureaucracy of the decision-making process, the divided loyalties, and priorities of hierarchical management structures, the often slow pace of progress. Not that there aren’t many organizations who have overcome these things, but in general, I feel that the older and larger a company becomes, the less collaboration and flexibility is maintained in the culture.
These comparisons have helped me to identify ways that I can become more flexible and adaptable. They have also given me a lasting appreciation for the tremendous dedication that entrepreneurs show and inspired me to “lean in” to the success of Gladiator.
What was your greatest life accomplishment? What did you learn in the process of achieving it?
I don’t think I’ve achieved my greatest life accomplishment yet. As a mother, I could say that my children might someday be my greatest accomplishment; but I did not and am not doing that alone. I’m pretty proud of the fact that people consider me to be an honest, intelligent, and caring person.
I hope that when people look back on my life, they will say that I made a difference in dozens or hundreds or even thousands of people’s lives both professionally and personally. I’m still figuring out how to make that happen.
What was your biggest failure? How do you cope with failure or set-backs?
There have been a couple of times when I persisted in working in roles or with organizations that were just not a good fit. Finding myself in situations where I was struggling and refused to give up mostly resulted in more heartache and frustration than acknowledging that the situation was untenable and that both parties would be happier and more successful apart.
Like many people, I am my own worst critic. I am extremely hard on myself and need time after failures to acknowledge the things that I could have changed, but also to recognize the parts of the situation that were out of my control. Taking responsibility for the portion that I could have done better, and then learning from them, moving on, and letting go is something that I am still learning how to improve. Spending time with my family, finding calmness in yoga classes, or going for a run often help me refocus and move on.
What is the advice you would give the Pre-Career version of yourself?
Working with an honest pauper will bring you more joy and success than trying to deal with a rich asshole.
Don’t be afraid. You can do anything.
It’s okay to change your mind.
What advice do you have to give the next generation of business leaders?
Listen. Listen. Listen. Listen to your customers. Listen to your employees. Listen to your advisors and mentors. Listen to your family. Never stop listening.
Pursue your passion in a way that allows you to give back to your family, your community, and the world.
Time is a finite, non-renewable resource. Your choices about how you spend your time will be the most important decisions that you make, every single day. There are NOT enough hours in the day for you to do everything. Prioritize and delegate.
Books/podcasts/other education sources you recommend:
I have been enjoying the Start-Up podcast by Gimlet Media.
Find people in your industry who have relevant experience and are willing to support you. Learning from someone else’s expertise or mistakes is always worth the price of an early morning and a cup of coffee.