Many times when I share success stories, you might be tempted to read them as “complete.” But, as Nathan Magnuson reminded me this week, success stories are often “success in progress.” That’s how Nathan views his story, and that mindset has helped him stay driven and focused on his journey.
And it has truly been a journey for Nathan. He graduated college in 2005 and found that the career he had planned in accounting just wasn’t a good fit. He knew he wanted to be in leadership development, but wasn’t sure how to get there. He joined the Army Reserves to help him pay for graduate school and ended up being deployed to Iraq in 2008. Just one year later in 2009, he finished his Master’s degree and landed his first job in corporate leadership development.
Always An Entrepreneur
But, as he told us, even though he spent the next 12 years in these jobs he had dreamed of “I’ve always had a desire to be an entrepreneur.” The pandemic presented a lot of challenges for his former employer, who had cut salaries across the board and increased employee workloads exponentially to cover staffing shortages. While many people might have been discouraged or even defeated by this type of situation, Nathan saw it as an opportunity. He told us “I decided to accelerate my plans. I left my corporate job last year to start my company Leadership-In-A-Box.”
Nathan’s company builds leadership development programs and licenses them to human resources teams so that they can engage in leadership development in their own company without having to build a program from scratch. This is such a unique idea! It allows Nathan to use his expertise in leadership development, it helps improve efficiency in the companies he works with, and so many more people get to benefit from the programs he builds than back when he was just working at one company.
Nathan Magnuson Has Found His Sweet Spot
Leadership-In-A-Box is a great example of what I mean when I’m talking about finding the sweet spot where your skills, talents, and abilities overlap with your passions and the potential for profitability. Nathan attributes a lot of his success in finding this sweet spot to “being clear early on what I wanted” and his voracious study of leadership materials, “hustle.”
As he told us “I worked really hard in my areas of interest and also experimented. As my expertise grew, I also noticed what problems kept coming up, and what I might do to fix them.” This to me highlights what Nathan was talking about when he told us that he considers his story a “success in progress.” By always staying curious and never considering something “complete,” he’s able to keep growing and keep learning.
In a business-like leadership development, this couldn’t be more important because the nature of the American workplace is changing rapidly. Staying up to date on what his clients need is important. And Nathan is there to answer the call.
Nathan’s Advice For Those On the Entrepreneurial Path
Nathan was so generous in sharing his advice for those of you who might be a few steps behind him on the entrepreneurial path. But even if you’re someone who has a more “complete” success story, I think you’ll really benefit from what Nathan has to say.
He told us that for people who are still working traditional jobs, to try and explore options outside of what you’ve always done. He even recommended changing jobs frequently, and trying to work for people who are growing and learning themselves because “Otherwise, you’ll stunt your growth and limit your network and your exposure to different ways of operating and solving problems.”
Nathan also emphasized the importance of having a side hustle because it not only helps with income security, but also revs up your entrepreneurial engine and creates growth opportunities. Whether you’re at a traditional job or an entrepreneur, Nathan reminded us that it’s important to “be a noticer and a problem solver” because adopting that mindset can create opportunities for contributing to your company, and help you hone your own skills and expertise.
Don’t Wait Until You Have It All Figured Out
If you’re ready to start out on your own, Nathan recommended “to prototype quickly” instead of waiting until you have it all figured out on the front end. He said, “This way, you get a quick win, quick feedback, and quick learning – and if you fail, it was just an experiment!” And if you do fail, “Then prototype again. People lose a LOT of time when they try to figure everything out before taking action.”
Practically speaking, Nathan told us that this “prototype quickly” strategy can apply to so many different things. He said “If you want to write a book, write a 600-word article TODAY. Post it on social media. Then write 5 more. Then (if it’s still going well), start a blog. Then write a short e-book. Then write a book.”
This type of action keeps you in perpetual motion and motivates you to keep going. He also told us this can apply to coaching, “If you want to be a coach, pick ONE skill and send an email to ten friends THIS WEEK offering to coach them or someone they know. If you want to develop a training course, create 5 slides and host a Facebook live session THIS WEEK for 15 min + 5 min of Q&A.”
Always Keep Growing and Learning
This all centers around Nathan’s idea that success is always in progress. We all should be growing and learning throughout our journeys, and pushing ourselves to be the best we can be. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I’m all about taking action and so I think Nathan’s advice really rings true.
Whether you put this advice into action or not, what I hope you take away from Nathan’s story is inspiration from his incredible drive and passion. If your passions have gone cold, I hope you take this moment to find that drive again. If you’re sitting on some good ideas and have hesitated on putting them out into the world, I hope you take this a push to kick into gear and take that first or next step.
No matter what, remember that, as Nathan Magnuson told us, everyone’s success can be “success in progress.” The question for you is: How are you going to make progress on your success?