Taking the Leap with Kelley Griesmer

This Wednesday, we had the pleasure of welcoming Kelley Griesmer of Pelotonia to share her story and the craziness that goes with managing such an enormous social enterprise.

As a graduate of Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, Griesmer began her career at Jones Day, a highly respected and successful law firm. The work that she involved herself with was complicated, intellectually challenging and provided an opportunity to learn about large litigation with industry-leading lawyers. Griesmer was surrounded by colleagues she met while at Ohio State and they quickly climbed the ranks at Jones Day together. Before she knew it, she was a partner at Jones Day, an accomplishment that most lawyers would dream of.

It was at this point in her career that she began to feel the ever-so-familiar feeling of being unfulfilled with work. It was time to explore other opportunities. Research began with a focus on non-profits in the Columbus area and beyond, but nothing seemed to stand out. It wasn’t until she was approached by a dear friend, Tom Lennox, that she felt the need to leave her incredible gig at Jones Day. At the time, Tom Lennox was dreaming up an idea to bring cancer research funding to Ohio State through a grassroots bike race in central Ohio.

She recollected on her experience with Tom. Just when she thought she was certainly crazy and there was no chance of leaving her job, Tom would remind her of his incredible vision and the great value it would bring this world. Griesmer was hooked. She left her full-time job and began working with Tom as the Chief Operating Officer for Pelotonia in 2008 and has never looked back since then!

It was a pleasure to hear Griesmer tell her inspiring story of chasing something beyond just job security and a nice paycheck. Some of the key takeaways from Wednesday night:

  • Things will go wrong, but you’re an entrepreneur, you gave up your job, your life, for this, so get back in the office, stop throwing a fit, and figure it out
  • One of the best ways to build a woman friendly business is by eliminating gender norming and evaluate all employees on the same playing field
  • Raising money through a bike race is not an original idea, but ensuring that 100% of funds raised go directly to the cause is, and it’s that concept that makes Pelotonia extraordinary
  • Branding matters and should not be forgotten, even in a non-profit environment
  • Remember to execute discipline – requiring people to reach a fundraising goal only works if you have the courage to charge their credit cards at the end of the day
  • And finally, things never go as expected the first time, but just learn from it and keep going

What Pelotonia has accomplished in Columbus in nothing short of extraordinary. The Business Builders Club strongly encourages you to consider riding and supporting our community in an effort to reach One Goal: ending cancer. We thank Kelley for coming out and sharing such an inspirational story.

Jake is the President of the Business Builders Club | An engineer by study and an explorer by habit | Builder for @Designlico | On twitter @jakelarkin71

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