Former GE Vice Chair of Business Innovation and CMO Beth Comstock On Granting Yourself Permission To Explore A Changing Reality, Episode 65

Leaders today in big and small organizations around the world are navigating multiple unknowns. What might have felt weird before this pandemic is now the norm. Did you ever think that you would be relying on Zoom to present a high-stakes innovative idea and then an hour later hop on a parent-teacher’s conference online? Me neither and not whilst in my sweatpants. You will certainly want to jot down insights and key questions to ask yourself from this week’s guest Beth Comstock. She is a marketing and innovation legend who has witnessed weird and been part of GE teams that have leveraged many “weird” market insights into a normal (and often better) way of doing business.

Here’s more about Beth’s illustrious corporate career. Beth Comstock’s mission is to understand what’s next, navigate change and help others do the same. By cultivating a habit of seeking out new ideas, people, and places, she built a career path from storyteller to the chief marketer to Vice-Chair. She currently works as an advisor, director, and storyteller.

As GE’s Vice-Chair of Business Innovation and previously Chief Marketing Officer, she led efforts to accelerate new growth, develop digital and clean-energy futures, seed new businesses, and enhance the brand value. As President of Integrated Media at NBC Universal, Beth oversaw TV ad revenue and new digital efforts, including the early development of

Beth is a director at Nike, trustee of The National Geographic Society, and former board president of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum. She has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Center for Science and Society. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in biology. Her first book, Imagine It Forward, about summoning courage and creativity in the face of change, was published in September 2018.

Share this episode with three people leaders who are in the trenches focused on ensuring their business goals are met and their professional ambitions achieved even now.


  • Courage: What kind of courage do we need to make change happen today?
  • Why: Why us? Ask yourself this question and other key questions leaders must consider.
  • Effective Leadership:  How to offer your team clarity yet admit when you don’t have answers
  • Social Capital: How to give people some space yet create moments of serendipity
  • Working Parents: Good leaders make readjustments based on changing realities and work with their team’s new needs
  • Hiring Practices: The case for hiring talent from outside your sector.
  • Roles: What’s a “figure it out” role? What’s necessary to facilitate success in these scenarios?
  • Risk Mitigation:  Let’s do a project or bring in a “spark.” Some ways to mitigate hiring risks are expressed.
  • Feedback: Sometimes outsiders can become targets, how to work through this common occurrence.
  • Professional Goals: How to vouch for yourself even now. Good leaders will be open to your initiative.
  • Agency: Give yourself permission to get what you need right now. Reimagine that commuting hour for whatever YOU need.
  • Permission Granted: How to step into weird zones to test yourself to learn new things and get a handle of where change is coming from.
  • “Weird Exercise:” Explore a new phenomenon. Ask yourself: what might I learn from this?
  • Open Challenges:  Great way to source the best ideas that can come from anywhere!
  • Opportunistic vs. Sincere: Does someone really need this? Will someone be better if we solve this? Plus, other questions you must ask yourself before creating anything.
  • Creativity: How much conflict/tension do we need right now to beget the best creative idea in this tense historical moment?
  • Marketing Lay-Offs: How to rethink your career into a portfolio career and be more entrepreneurial, step one is discussed
  • Essential Marketers: What is a marketer’s role? Let’s start there and harness this to feel essential again.
  • Working Moms: How being a parent can impact your leadership fingerprint
  • Help: Why asking for help (informal vs. formal coaching) can be key to unleashing your biggest potential?
  • Mom Advice: Craft your own guiding question. Here’s mine: how can I nurture myself?

Links to quench your curiosity:

Follow and connect with Beth Comstock:

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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