Life in a startup business can be rewarding, yet uncomfortable. For example, you have the freedom to focus most on what you’re passionate about, but also the uncertainty about how and when to pay yourself. But it doesn’t necessarily have to follow an if/then formula.

Following a 28-year career in corporate HR, Kjirsten Mickesh started Connection Zoo with her son. Through Connection Zoo, Kjirsten helps kids with social anxiety learn to manage emotions, and helps grown-ups support this learning process. “The stuff we’re doing with Connection Zoo is related to kids who have discomfort, worry, or anxiety in social situations. And, growing up, I had a lot of generalized and social anxiety. So, there’s a very personal connection for me.”

With a passion for her new endeavor, she wanted to explore how to maintain some reliable income at the same time. Having hired and worked with several Salo consultants during her tenure in corporate HR, Kjirsten immediately thought of Salo as an option for income during her entrepreneurial transition.

Wanting to focus most of her attention on getting Connection Zoo off the ground, her request to Salo was clear. She was seeking high-level positions that involve coaching, no more than 10 hours a week, and pay commensurate with her decades of experience. “I was very specific [with what I was looking for]—and they found me an amazing project.”

Salo connected Kjirsten with a healthcare startup in Minneapolis that needed coaching, mentorship and guidance to develop a strategic plan for growth. The role was in her sweet spot, allowing her to act as a strategic, behind-the-scenes partner with the HR Director.

Beyond being a skills match, the healthcare project gave her a glimpse into the future of Connection Zoo. She got a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and opportunities of growing a startup. “It was the perfect role for me.” 

Consulting with Salo is giving her a sense of peace and stability in her routine. “It’s a really cool balance, personally and professionally, from that perspective.”

She gets to work on projects that put her HR experience and skills to good use and are professionally enriching. “The best part is, when they have found me matches that fit, it’s been so fulfilling. I get excited about doing the work. It’s so rewarding.”

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