Transitioning from the C-suite - Troy T. Taylor

I’ve “transitioned” — or I’m in the process of transitioning because I don’t think it’s ever over — from running a diagnostic business for the largest healthcare company in the world, J&J. I’ve been on this transition journey for several years. What I found is that for those of us coming out of running these big global operations there are some practical things that we kind of not struggle through, but we deal with on these transitions and the most obvious one is our calendar.

Most of us have basically been driven by our calendars for our entire corporate life and after you’re going through this transition you begin to realize that you now have to populate your calendar and if it doesn’t get on your calendar it doesn’t get done.

And then it can run into situations things get on your calendar, where you can fill up your calendar with what I call a lot of low-calorie activities — which in some cases may not necessarily be aligned with what you want to do from a transitional standpoint.

I think the other part of transitioning is, I guess it’s a scale in terms of transitioning with a defined purpose or transitioning with a set of intellectually or curiosities. I think on the curiosity side in your transition you start looking at different things that may be synergistic to what you used to do. Things that may be far afield; things that you always thought you wanted to do as a child; you get back to that. Versus the other extremes where, “Hey, I’m transitioning and I’ve got this specific thing I want to do or that specific thing I want to do,” and managing between those.

At least thinking through, “Am I transitioning with specific purposes that I want to accomplish or am I transitioning with certain areas that I’m curious about?” I think it helps an individual figure out what the next chapter in their life is going to look.

First and foremost, I think transition comes in phases. What you think on day one of a transition out of a major operating role could vastly change on day 300, or two years into it. But I think there are some things that are constant.

One is certainly relevancy; there’s a lot of us that come out of the corporate world where relevancy was always one of the prime directives in terms of contribution to your organization, so you still want to stay relevant. I think the other piece of it is realizing — and you realize it more and more — how your experiences are not that of the norm. That when you’re surrounded by a bunch of corporate folks, “did you run this business? Yeah, I ran that business. Did you do this? Did you do that?” But when you get into the broader world you find out that those experiences are quite unique.

So how can you combine both staying relevant and combining your experiences? By serving on boards; by serving on nonprofits; by exposing individuals that may not have otherwise been exposed to those opportunities, this is where I find my passions.

My transition has taken me far afield into the realm of owning an art gallery. I’m an engineer, I’m a rocket scientist by education, and I own one of the largest art galleries. People say, “Art gallery, how is that relevant?” I began to realize that my decision making and my leadership styles were about being able to understand both the left and right brains.

Artists think very differently. Some of them are very successful, but their thought process is very different than my structural thinking. But by combining those two you begin to find out that there is some science behind art. It expands your horizon. I think it gives you a broader perspective, whether you’re serving on a board or serving on a non-profit, to realize that everybody doesn’t think like you. How do you encapsulate that and come to a better decision-making process?

Certainly serving on boards — whether they be non-profit boards, for profit boards, advisory boards — are things that are of interest to me. I think combining that with my experiences and the ability to get back those experiences in a way that will help either organizations or individuals obtain their goals or move forward is a passion of mine.

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