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There’s a huge difference between intention and initiative.

You can have all the best intentions in the world, but your initiative is what separates leaders from followers. It’s what separates success from failure. At Gravity, if you want to start something brand new, if you want to tweak your role, it’s up to you to figure out how to do it and convince others to see the value in what you’re trying to accomplish.

I came into my role here with a lot of experience trying to convince others of my initiatives. Before I came to Gravity, I was in the steel industry. Steel has a long standing history of being dominated by men, so, while I never felt personally discriminated against, I knew I needed to have a well thought out plan and adopt allies to ensure my ideas were supported.

I’ve worked in Fortune 500’s, I’ve consulted with companies who could not see the value in Human Resources, and I’ve worked at “boys club” start ups.  I am responsible for the success in all of my positions and I carry that same sense of responsibility over to Gravity. And often, success doesn’t look like doing it all on your own.

For me, I’ve realized my weaknesses lie in not seeing all the options and not knowing what I don’t know. To overcome that, I find people who think differently than I do and approach things in a way I wouldn’t. The idea is to avoid being blind to possible alternatives. The less you communicate what you need, the harder your success will be.

A critical view of your actions is an important element of advancement. It’ll never be perfect, but you can always strive for it. If you just try something, you’ll grow in ways you never imagined.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. Always take the opportunity to understand why you’re doing something. And most importantly, try. Action is great, but action for the sake of action is short sighted; you still need to do your homework.


Jena is the Head of Human Resources at Gravity Payments. To see more team member stories from the “We’re All CEOs Here” series, check them out here.

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