Name: Karyn Ross
Business: Karyn Ross Consulting
Location: Naperville, Illinois, U.S.
Industry: Professional Services
Reason for starting? I started Karyn Ross Consulting (KRC) to help local, family, women and employee-owned businesses and organizations (non-profits) with a purpose. I’m an artist by training (MFA in Sculpture) and learned “lean process improvement” working in corporate America. My passion is teaching purpose-driven organizations to use “lean creativity” so that they can compete with big, high-volume mega-businesses and flourish, thrive and grow for the long-term. My personal and company mission and vision is to “help people improve the world,” and KRC is my way of expressing this is my work.
How do you define success? Success means that we are working together to create a better world. Each of us has a unique passion and purpose to contribute. When we bring our personal and work purposes into alignment and work in ways that are peaceful and harmonious, we create a better world. In my business I don’t track or measure success in dollar amounts. I measure it in number of people helped. I don’t charge one set fee for helping people, and I never turn anyone who wants help away based on financial factors. The more people I can help, the better a world we will all make!
Biggest success: I have had many successes. I don’t distinguish between “big or small.” Because I help one person at a time, each person I help create their passion and find effective and efficient ways to work towards fulfilling their purpose is a “success.” Some examples: a breast-cancer survivor who changed her lifestyle vision to “healthy living” and lost 20 pounds through diet and exercise, while undergoing the stress of being re-diagnosed. A manufacturing company that changed its vision from an internal one to “making our customers successful.” A five-person employment law company that reduced the time it takes to process claims for customers from 28 days to 7 days. And they’ve all made changes in positive ways that “make things better” for their customers, themselves and the world.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it: I’m going to say my top challenge is strategy, but not in the way of determining what strategy to use. I’m saying strategy because having a non-traditional view of business as not focused on dollars, and making money can be difficult for others to understand. When I ask customers to pay me what is comfortable and affordable for them, it takes some by surprise. When I decide not to work with a company because they may have business practices that don’t help “make a good world,” they are often surprised. For me, finding the right fit of people to help is an ongoing strategic challenge — in the best possible way!
After graduating college with a MFA, I cared for my family and was an at-home mom due to U.S. visa restrictions. I didn’t have the opportunity to work until I was in my forties. Between 2010 and 2017, I went from being an entry-level customer service representative to the co-author of the Shingo-award winning book, The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations. As well, before starting KRC, I worked for a number of multinational service organizations in lean leadership positions. Like Louise Bourgeois, it took many years to realize my dreams and fulfill my purpose, but I learned that there is no such thing as “I can’t”; that with a little creativity and hard work, each of us can find ways to follow our passion and fulfill our purpose.
Who is your most important role model? My most important role model is the artist Louise Bourgeois. Because she raised her family and didn’t begin her career as an artist until she was in her fifties. She served others and didn’t give up on her dream and on fulfilling her purpose.
Edited by The Story Exchange