Why This Leader Always Wanted to be in Charge
Kirsten Nolan has always been extremely driven. Even as a young girl she wanted to be in charge and do things her way. Roughly 12 years ago she followed through on her entrepreneurial ambition by shifting gears and starting her own business. She cofound One Parking which currently manages over 50,000 self-parking and valet spaces throughout the United States.
Kirsten, COO of One Parking, revealed that she has always had a passion for business and has developed a number of habits instrumental to success. Most recently, she’s adopted Mel Robbins philosophy of never hitting the snooze button. Following this advice has led Kristen to get a head start on her day by getting up an hour earlier. This extra hour allows her time to establish daily goals and lay out effective strategies to accomplish them. Kirsten has always adhered to the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps her prioritize tasks identifying which are most urgent and important. The additional time allows her to maximize her efforts.
Kirsten’s advice on what it takes to be entrepreneurial – “A lot of drive,” she stressed.
“You have to be able to see obstacles differently and overcome them. You cannot be nervous about taking risks, you have to know how to handle rejection and see the tough times as a learning experience,” Kirsten expressed. She also explained, “You have to get beyond the negative self-talk, be disciplined, and when you don’t want to do something, that’s when you have to do it!”
Kirsten also provided her guidance to new entrepreneurs and people who want to take their career to the next level.
“The road is not easy and will be a rollercoaster. Things don’t align automatically and it’s never a perfect time. You have to believe in yourself. Something will be telling you NO…NO…this is not the right time. You have to be willing to go against this and just do it!”
What Kirsten likes most about being an entrepreneur is the freedom, independence, the ability to steer the company in the direction she wants it to go. Also, she understands what she gets out of failure. In her industry, they could spend a lot of time, money, and effort flying to different cities reviewing properties and not get the business. She told me that these experiences are important for her to learn from in order to make her company better. She does not get discouraged since she needs to stay focused on driving new business and grow top-line revenue.
I was fortunate to be at The Commonwealth Institute 12th Annual Award Ceremony honoring top-women lead businesses in Florida. Kirsten was being recognized and sat on the panel discussing a variety of topics. She was asked to describe challenges she has faced in her career.
Kirsten brought us back to the time before she became an entrepreneur. She had been parked at a large transportation company for 15 years when a few events finally pushed Kristen to pursue her destiny of becoming her own boss.
She reminded the audience that it was a very male dominated industry. She talked about a time she was in the car with the Chairman and the President of the company. They asked her to do them a favor. Eager to help, she said, “Sure, what is it?” They wanted her to speak to another General Manager about her hair. They thought “woman to woman” the message would come across better. Jokingly Kirsten said to the audience, “Clearly, they don’t know anything about woman.” She never had that conversation.
She explained how the company didn’t really know what to do with her. She wasn’t like everyone else (male). She recalls a time when everyone went through testing to identify the next leaders for the company. She was told she tested the highest but they didn’t believe the results.
Kirsten described another event that was the ultimate tipping point. Kirsten lived in Phoenix and commuted to Las Angeles every week. She rented an apartment in LA, commuted an hour and a half to work and back every day, and on Fridays would fly back to Phoenix. She made this commute for 8 years! She told the audience how an executive expressed to her she wasn’t committed because she didn’t live in Las Angeles. She said, “I always knew I wanted to run my own business but that was the moment I knew I needed to go.”
Of course these days it’s not all work and no play for Kirsten. When time permits, she devotes it to playing golf with her 13-year-old daughter, who no doubt, has quite a drive as well.
For more information on the company she has built, One Parking, go to www.OneParking.com.