Jennifer Lansden is the Founder and CEO of Rainbow Chameleon Corp., a technology and operations advisory firm, based in New York. Rainbow Chameleon helps early-stage startups and small businesses make the right decisions to grow and scale their businesses. She also sits on the advisory board for several startups and is currently the fractional CTO for a new Fintech.

Before launching Rainbow Chameleon, Jennifer served as a Senior Technology Executive with over 19 years’ experience leading the technology vision, strategy, talent, and complex initiatives for large global financial institutions. She has a successful track record of implementing critical plans by driving multifunctional teams across application development, IT risk management, infrastructure, and enterprise-architecture teams. Her expertise spans risk and compliance technologies, data transformation, cloud, and other emerging technologies.

Her business acumen coupled with strong analytics, technical expertise, resourcefulness, foresight, interpersonal communication skills, and ability to develop partnerships provides her with the skills necessary to enable continuous improvement, risk mitigation, and operational efficiencies.

Jennifer also holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Hofstra University. She lives in New York City with her family.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and work for myself. I saw owning a company as a way to create my own destiny. Over the years, I have provided business and technology advice to new companies, and I loved seeing how they evolved from my help.

When I left my corporate job, I took some time off to figure out what I wanted to do. Combining my years of technology delivery experience with new cutting-edge startups seemed like a natural fit. And since I prefer diversity, challenges and flexibility, I decided to figure out how to package my expertise into a regular service for startups.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

I had been prototyping my business model for some time and was officially going to launch mid-March 2020, but then COVID shut down NYC. While there still seemed to be a demand from potential customers, I had numerous challenges with my son having anxiety about COVID and extreme difficulty handling remote learning. He became the primary focus for our entire family. I was able to continue to work with existing clients, but I was not able to expand or take on any additional tasks.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Given the continued challenges with COVID and my son, I knew now more than ever I needed the ability to make my own hours and create my own destiny, instead of going back to a corporate work environment. I learned how to become an advocate for my family while working on building a business. I knew I couldn’t do it all, so I’ve delegated more and found individuals who have the expertise to help the brand grow.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Not necessarily a funny mistake, though I had spent a lot of time thinking about a name for the company. Nothing was trendy or unique enough. So finally, I asked my eight-year-old son to help me. I told him ‘I’m starting a business and I need a name; do you have any suggestions?’ Right away, he says “The Awesome Business”. I laughed and said that might not work, although I hoped he was right. I then asked him for anything cool that he could think of and his next name was Rainbow Chameleon. I think the first mistake I made after that was taking too long to get my website up and launch. I tell my clients all the time to keep publishing the product, but I personally struggled with that at first.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We focus on really getting to know our client’s business needs and making practical recommendations. Most technologists focus on cool technology but is that technology really needed at that point of the company’s growth?

Additionally, with our diverse and deep experiences we are able to prevent our clients from experiencing problems before they happen.

One of our clients that launched their app a little over a year ago has had very successful application releases month-over-month with little to no bugs or issues. In a young startup that is usually difficult to achieve, many have not figured out how to create or improve their processes and testing procedures to become that well-oiled machine yet.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t try to do it all. Many startup CEOs want to do everything 24-hours a day, but that will burn them out and also not create a great work culture at their company. Your job as a CEO is to set direction and coach your team.

Take time out for self-care and make sure to get sleep. I used to work long hours and way into the night/early morning. That can work for an emergency or a short time but over the long term you will see diminishing returns. You will start to make the wrong decisions or ineffective ones plus set a bad example for your teams.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are so many people I am grateful towards. In Arlan Hamilton’s book It’s About Damn Time, she talks about everyone being “Community Made”. That resonated with me because I believe I am a product of all my experiences and interactions starting with my personal life with my parents and siblings and then friends, my husband, and my son. All of this has provided valuable support and encouragement. Then in my professional life mentors, managers, colleagues and staff have all taught me how to lead, collaborate, think differently, and make good decisions.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I love mentoring college students. If my clients have computer science interns, I make time to help them and give them pointers on how to apply the computer science curriculum they are learning in school to the practical things that happen in the real world.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Outsource things you hate — I should have started outsourcing things like marketing much earlier. I thought I could do it on my own but working with clients and procrastination took over.

Ship the work — I recently finished reading Seth Godin’s The Practice. He talks about how building the habit of shipping work frequently will ultimately make your product better. An example he gave was if you think you can’t write you should start writing every day.

Niche — I always felt that “Niche” restricted the population of potential clients I could work with, but actually finding a niche client base helps you refine your process and get proficient in that area. Then those types of clients will refer you to their network.

Talk to everyone in your network — You never know what they might need or who in their network may need your services.

Just ask — What is the worst that can happen? Sometimes we are afraid to ask for something we think we deserve or afraid to start a conversation with a stranger.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement to change our education system from pre-school to college. Our current education system is very stressful for children and doesn’t teach them what they need to know to be successful in life. All individuals learn from doing. We need to transform our education system to create interdisciplinary learning that teaches children and young adults how to collaborate with others, understand problems, find solutions, be resilient, and lead. I think there needs to be more dedication to STEM subjects with an interdisciplinary approach, interwoven with language skills, creativity, and the arts.

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