The Story Exchange, Laura Garrett, OneDecisionYour Name: Laura Garrett

Business Name: Ondecision, a career decision service

Type of Business: Coaching & Consulting

Business Location: San Diego, California, United States

Twitter   @ondecision

Reason for starting
I was sitting in a meeting, completely distracted and scribbling notes to myself about what I wanted and didn’t want in a new job. I was trying to bring structure to my thoughts – I’m a diehard list maker – but the pros and cons approach just wasn’t cutting it. There were too many “what ifs” and “it depends” for me to wrap my head around. I had learned about a consumer preference measurement technique back in business school and thought, “I sure wish I could use that tool for myself right now.” Beyond just clearing the cobwebs from my own head, the prospects of helping other people break down complex and emotional decisions had a lot of appeal for me.

How do you define success?
It probably sounds cliché, but it’s immensely satisfying to help people that are considering a career transition. Our clients come to us when they’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed by the crazy mix of thoughts and questions in their head. We help them work through the quagmire so they can move toward what they want. We get to see a pretty dramatic shift in someone’s mindset, which is energizing and feels like success.

Biggest Success
Our first big success was getting confirmation from a renowned researcher that the methodology we were building was valid and unique. He even said, “Why didn’t I think of that? I can’t believe I’ve spent my whole career helping companies sell cereal when I could have been helping people get through tough personal decisions.” We left that meeting and celebrated with a splurge trip to buy new bras, though that’s a little embarrassing to admit now.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My co-founder, Whitney Armstrong, was my close friend before we kicked off this venture. We thought we knew each other’s work styles because we had worked at two companies together, but actually entering this new entrepreneurial world – with it’s inherent risk — has felt like a completely different ballgame. Fortunately, we’re both certified coaches so we’re all about calling out the elephant in the room and talking it through. I guess we have to practice what we preach! Our relationship is the better for it.

Who is your most important role model?
I have always admired Julia Child because she didn’t let any traditional notions of a career get in her way. Researcher, chef, author, TV personality, spy — the twists and turns and successes of her career are fascinating to me. (And it doesn’t hurt that I also like food.)