Carol Ann Korpi from CA Consults was born in Washington D.C. and spent her childhood in NY and South Florida. She went to college at Colgate University and happily made life-long friends there. After Colgate Carol Ann moved to Boston and received her MSW from Simmons College and a Fellowship from Harvard Medical School at the Rapid Diagnostic Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital.
After a brief career in Social Work, Carol Ann Korpi transitioned into Sales in the new Internet business market and proceeded to work in Sales/Sales Management at Start-ups for the next twenty years. The Start-up companies varied quite a bit and ranged from SaaS to Global Payments to Virtual Reality Training. The theme of her career has been building a business from the ground up, usually as the first person in Sales and growing each company into a world class business with large global teams. Carol Ann Korpi has been lucky to work with some of the most wonderful people and experts in their field. She built her consulting company to offer her experience and expertise to new Start-Ups as the CEO of CA Consults, LLC in the Pleasanton, California area.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
While I enjoyed working for others and being part of creating their vision, I reached a point where the time felt right to fulfill my own vision. I created my business when I felt I had enough experience to offer new companies and Founders the benefit of my successes and challenges. After 20 years in start-ups, I have a large database of information to draw upon as different situations arise. This experience translated into a material value to offer Start-ups.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
Since my consulting company is focused on advising Start-ups, I span industries and get to enjoy different types of companies, challenges, and opportunities every day. I love the mix and working with Founders who are passionate about different technologies and products. Every day feels fresh and I get to keep learning which is key for me.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
My typical day starts early, and I make sure to get my mind in the right space with meditation. I then work on whatever is on tap for the day and prioritizing tasks is the critical first step. I also make sure to exercise and read every day. Since my clients are from around the world, the timing of meetings and calls can really vary and take place at any time of the day or night.
What keeps you motivated?
I stay motivated by working with passionate and driven Founders and Teams who are committed to their company’s growth and evolution. It is exciting to provide guidance and see that advice materialize into a win for the company and Team.
How do you motivate others?
I try to motivate others through listening to their ideas and positive reinforcement. Encouragement goes a lot further than criticism, and I try to watch my words when I am offering a new perspective or some advice. It is easy to “correct” but that is not empowering and certainly not motivating. There are always challenges, but being able to focus on a win, no matter how small, keeps a positive flow for the day. I think it is also motivating to dissect what went wrong, without judgment, and figure out how to do better the next time so the negative feeling doesn’t linger and cloud the tasks at hand, and people feel a better level of control over the situation.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from the people I work with every day who often amaze me with their talent, persistence, and drive. Many of these Founders are creating businesses that are making a material, positive impact on the world and that is inspiring as well.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My first manager was a female Head of Sales and I learned from her to be authentic, and not alter my personality to “fit in” to the mostly male technology/start-up world. She gave me a huge opportunity and I am incredibly grateful for her guidance, and modeling how to be a successful woman in business. My grandmother was also a big role model. She was widowed quite young, raised 3 children and ran a successful tavern in Buffalo, NY. She had a female owned business and ran the tavern for 19 years alone which was obviously outside the norm for that time. She was a trailblazer and well-loved by her community, which are attributes that do not always go hand in hand. She always made it a priority to help other women and was extremely kind. I think about her often both in professional and personal situations.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
Empathy and compassion are particularly important leadership qualities. Twenty years ago these traits may not have been as respected, but thankfully we have evolved—and have enough data to prove—that compassionate leadership delivers the best results.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My children—although having two wonderful adult children is not really my accomplishment at all. I was a working mother who traveled a lot and their father did the majority of the “raising”, and he did an excellent job. But my children are the part of my life that give me the most satisfaction and happiness as I watch them develop into thoughtful, caring adults. If you can leave this world and know that you have left it in much better hands, that is an incredible feeling of accomplishment.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
Being easy to work with and flexible is a key to success. Treat everyone with compassion and respect. Every colleague or client is a human being first and respecting the people you work with makes the entire experience much more enjoyable and rewarding. As all of us know, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, so life is far better when those hours are spent in cooperation with others.