Imagine it Forward (2018) charts the successes and setbacks of one of America’s most prolific businesswomen, Beth Comstock. Combining anecdotes from her tenure at General Electric with surprising insights and indispensable practical advice, these blinks explore the life and times of this remarkable change-maker and innovator.
Beth Comstock was the first female vice chair of General Electric (GE), one of America’s biggest companies. But Comstock’s professional life wasn’t always so promising. When she was in her early twenties, her life was headed down an entirely different track.
That’s when she took big risks to change her life and shake up her career.
Though she had long had ambitions of becoming a science journalist, by her mid-twenties, her career was stalling. Holding down two jobs as a part-time waitress and a minor news reporter in her hometown, she couldn’t seem to land any of the more promising jobs for which she applied. Disillusioned, she did what her parents and her small-town society expected of her. She settled down with her college boyfriend, got married and fell pregnant.
Within only a few short months, she felt trapped. She knew there was a better life waiting for her if she only had the courage to reach for it. Throwing caution to the wind, she told her husband she wanted a divorce and moved with her infant daughter to Washington DC.
Though she was choosing to become a single mother, with all its accompanying challenges, it was clear to her that only by embracing imperfection, complications and mistakes would she be able to get the full life she desperately wanted.
Soon, her gamble paid off, and she got a job working in publicity at NBC’s news bureau in Washington. Within a short space of time, she was promoted and put in charge of the entire department.
Significantly, she largely attributes her success to her capacity for action.
She believes that most people labor under the idea that only those with considerable power – those of us who are already “leaders” in some way – have the capacity to take action. More often than not, those of us who don’t consider ourselves to be powerful are content to accept that we cannot effect change, whether in our personal or professional lives.
But Comstock has always tended to take decisive action. Whether it was divorcing her husband and starting a new life or boldly implementing new ideas at work, she is proud to say that she has never made excuses to herself about why she can’t do what she needs to do and take the next step along the road to a better future.