Change Proof Podcast | Andy Clement | Career Resilience


A career journey is a series of pivots, and every massive shift represents an opportunity to build and practice resilience. Andy Clement has been through it all. Throughout his career progression from individual contributor to middle manager and right through senior leadership, he has gathered valuable lessons along the way that will truly benefit anyone who’s in any part of that journey. Now that he’s undergoing a new transition, this time to retirement, he imparts the wisdom he has attained from his rich and colorful career. Tune in as he shares some of them here at the Change Proof Podcast with Adam Markel!


Show Notes:

  • 01:22 – Interesting Facts About Andy’s Life And Career
  • 08:34 – On Mentors And Self-Starters
  • 14:37 – The Middle Manager’s Dilemma
  • 20:59 – Transitioning To Senior Leadership
  • 28:03 – The Resilience Mentality
  • 33:19 – Thinking About What’s Next

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Resilience Lessons From A Long Leadership Career With Andy Clement

I got a great guest. You’re going to absolutely love this guy and I’m so looking forward to the conversation. His name is Andy Clement. This is part two. We actually have a first episode that we did and this is the second part of that and you’re going to love it. First of all, he finished up a 33-year career at Kimberly-Clark, where he held roles in sales, marketing, operations, corporate strategy, and general management. He was a chief sales officer for the company where he led a team through many go-to-market changes as buyer behaviors have changed. He has also married to a wonderful woman, Diana, and they have two grown kids, Jackson and Gracie. Sit back and enjoy this conversation. I know you’re going to love it. I’m going to love it as well.

Andy, this is a round two for you and I, so I don’t know if you even recall this from round one, but your bio is impressive. You’ve done a lot. I don’t want to throw this word around lightly, but you’ve had a great career, an illustrious career, so all that’s clear from the CV and all that good stuff. What’s one thing that is actually not a part of your bio that you would love for people to know about you at the start of our conversation?

Interesting Facts About Andy’s Life And Career

No, I don’t think this is in my bio, Adam, but it’s lost probably, but I have been very passionate on nonprofit work, especially around areas around diabetes. My daughter is a Type 1 diabetic. Gracie is her name. My wife and I have been involved in JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for many years. We had years of walks. In fact, some of the T-shirts on my wall are winning walk t-shirts from the Atlanta JDRF walk from years ago.

We’re now involved in City of Hope, which is a great cancer and Type 1 diabetes research group out of California. They’ve done some acquisitions and expanded, and so we actually did a lot of corporate fundraising at Kimberly-Clark for City of Hope and actually got inducted into the City of Hope Fundraising Hall of Fame, which you probably didn’t even know existed. That’s some of the stuff I’m proud of that we’ve done.

It’s funny, this has come up in too many of our shows a few times, but I actually think I’m going to lean more into this going forward because there’s a lot of people who get involved in these things that we don’t always talk about. In part, I think because it’s something we’re not trying to point a spotlight on for obvious reasons. I was able to participate and Swim Across America, which was a is an amazing charity. You get dropped off in the middle of cold water and in various places. You got to swim to the shore and it’s much less brutal than it sounds, although it absolutely had its moments. To do something that way, to be involved in a joint effort, but truly team effort to raise awareness, to raise money, to do things like that, that’s you got to find time.

There are a lot of people probably reading this right now go, “I so wish I had the time to get involved in some of those things.” When we’re in our research studying what creates resilience and what depletes and erodes resilience, often it is that people don’t feel like they’re making a big enough difference in the world. There’s no question. You tell me if this is wrong or not. It gives you so much more than you give to it.

It absolutely does. I think stepping away from the challenges of being a business leader helps you reflect and put life in perspective. As I finished my chapter with Kimberly-Clark, I look back and I’m very proud of some of the things that I was able to accomplish from a nonprofit perspective. Quite frankly, probably more important at the end of the day than some of the accomplishments I had within the business.

Stepping away from the challenges of being a business leader helps you reflect and put life in perspective. Share on X

It sounds like KC gave you either the space or actually encouraged you and others to get involved in these things. Is that right? I’m not so dialed into the innards of KC, but I have you here, so we’ll get that.

No, totally. I would say giving back has always been part of Kimberly-Clark’s values, which have been great. We’ve always been heavily involved in United Way. Some of the City of Hope that I brought forward with a team that Kimberly-Clark also embraced and did a lot of matching and supported some of the fundraising and team building we did at our sales meetings that continued with that way of working. That’s so important at KC.

Change Proof Podcast | Andy Clement | Career Resilience

Career Resilience: Giving back have always been part of Kimberly Clark’s values.


Do you know what the origin story of that is? It’s a company’s been around a long time, so I don’t know if there are founder stories or those things where somebody on the board said, “We need to make a bigger difference in the world,” or something like that. I don’t know.

Sadly, I don’t know, Adam, what the background is there. It’s a 152-year-old company and I was there for 30 years of it, but it was always the way it was. I assumed that you were going to give back and you’re going to support, and it tied to the culture, not only giving to charities, but supporting other employees and folks, too. It was the way of working at Kimberly-Clark and I’m sure we’ll continue.

I think for this episode, in my mind, the throughline will be life in perspective. It feels like what you said earlier rings, so it resonates with me. Let’s start at the beginning. Let’s go back to you as an early individual contributor, getting going. What was that like for you? What did you learn through that phase and stage of your career?

Probably the first ten years of my career, Adam, as you said, was an individual contributor, which is where most people start in their careers. For me, it was being a sales rep in Nashville, Tennessee at first, and then eventually becoming a marketer within Kimberly-Clark Professional, our B2B business. Early on, I learned how to deal with customers, how to deal with distributors, how to be a self-starter each and every day, and learning how buyers think.

I think it was a very good lesson for me, even when I was in non-sales and marketing roles at Kimberly-Clark, to always understand how buyers buy. I have always found it incredibly valuable. As I moved into marketing, it was more broader around how do you market to those folks as well. As I look back, I had some wonderful mentors in those 10 or 12 years that I would encourage folks to make sure you have who can point you in the right direction.

Change Proof Podcast | Andy Clement | Career Resilience

Career Resilience: Make sure you have right who can really point you in the right direction.


It doesn’t have to be formal mentors. These could be people you grab lunch with occasionally or you have a call with. You swing by their office in the old days and they advise you on how to get through things. I also was very fortunate that many times when I was early in my career, somebody tapped me on the shoulder within Kimberly-Clark to have me try a very different role that I wasn’t expecting as an individual contributor.

I see a lot of people nowadays sometimes turn those opportunities down because they’re not a promotion always or the money’s not as good. I was so fortunate to have those experiences in my career because it made me that much more valuable as I moved up in my career and became more of a senior leader. Once again, the ability to understand the customer was so critical for me as I moved on. I know I already mentioned that, but I want to encourage that as well.

When you say the mentors that arrived or that you sought out, I feel like there’s no formula for that. It’s so funny. You can obviously construct things within organizations to have to be one on one mentorship type to create a structure around it. That’s always a good thing. I know in my own career, it’s like you said, there were some that arrived. I don’t know, they were there. Funny enough, I feel like that was more than a little bit of grace, that there were people at different phases that were there that I ended up asking questions that seemed to be willing to answer them. Not just that, but they would seek me out to check in and see how I was doing.

I think that’s it exactly. You have to use your gut feel on this person. “This feels like a person I think I can learn from. A good person that wants to help me.” If you use your gut, you’re going to be right probably 4 out of 5 times. Some of those people, even though they haven’t been mentoring me maybe for 10, 15 years, we still connected. As I left KC, it was amazing how many reached out and said, “It was great getting to know you. I knew you’d be a success,” or, “I knew you were somebody that I could provide value to earlier in your career.” It’s been special to get those comments as well here at the end of my career.

On Mentors And Self-Starters

I want to create a little parenthetical in the conversation about that and actually dive in on a psychological level perhaps and get your thoughts on why do you think people at early stages of their careers, maybe at the first ten years, and there are some folks that are reading this that go, “That’s not what I’m after. I want to be way up the ladder or doing some pretty big things, important things, long before the end of a ten-year period.” Let’s say back to an earlier paradigm, I think that was reasonable. You started in your early 20s or early 30s. There were some changes happening. Whatever the timeframe is, why do you think people sometimes don’t find those mentors? Those mentors don’t even find them. Any thoughts on that?

I think some aren’t looking for them. Some people want to figure it out on their own and be self-starters, which can work. I think it’s a miss. Maybe it’s the American spirit, like, “I will do it myself,” type of thing. I don’t want to lie. I’m sure in parts of my career, I did some of the same things, but looking back now, I was very thankful for a lot of those mentors. Does that make sense to you? What do you think?

Andy, we’re sharing a brain here or something? I feel that there’s maybe the thought that if you are more rugged and individualist and you can create stuff on your own, people will think better of you. In the end, that’s a sign that you are more of a leader. Maybe you’re tapped sooner because you’re not showing signs of vulnerability. I think it’s what you said, it’s this idea perhaps that somehow it’s a faster road to the top alone.

I have found out myself that that’s definitely not the case through difficult experiences, but again, looking back, these mentors were there in part because I guess I was looking for, but more likely, I think it was that if there’s a certain humility and I come searching for a word in my head right now, but that’s the word that comes up for me, this idea that if you do not seem to be like you know it all, you have all the answers.

For me, it was in the legal profession. I was an attorney. Coming out of that and being in a office with a bunch of very seasoned attorneys, I had to walk around, not so much like a guppy, because in that arena, you can get eaten up pretty quickly by your adversaries or by a paralegal or whoever. Certainly by judges. There’s an element of putting on a bit of an air or wearing that armor, etc. I think there was also a part of me that was coachable that the outside people could see that I was willing to listen and learn, and because of that, this one particular guy whose name is Ed stepped forward. He was probably the most gruff of every attorney there.

He’d been practicing 40 years. You had a proverbial down the hall, had to walk a mile to get to his corner office, walk into his office and half the time he was there with a putter. He was that guy. He would poke his head into my office. He would say something I probably wouldn’t even say now. He would say, “How are you doing?” I think he would call me Momo. He’d say, “How are you doing, Momo?” Besides from laughing at it and wanting to say, “I’m good. I’m great. Thank you. Thank you so much for checking on me.” I would say, “Yeah.”

He would say, “Come on down to my office when you get a minute today.” I would take the long walk down his office, sit in the chair and he would pontificate sometimes or he would tell me about a case that was going on. One day, after sitting through one of those stories, he literally took a file sitting on the end of his desk and he pushed it at me and said, “I got something I want you to handle for me.” That’s how that unfolded. Do you have a story like that mentoring along the path for you early on?

Yeah. I can think of a mentor named John at KC and very similar, actually. He would pull me in or I’d see him in the hallway and he’d say, “Andy, how’s your business?” At first, I would talk corporate speak. He’d say, “No. Andy, how’s your business? Talk to me. What’s good? What’s bad?” We build up a trust that way where I would say, “Here’s what’s good, but here’s what I’m challenged with.”

This wasn’t a boss. This was a guy in a different department, a more senior folk person than me, but not the president of the company or anything. We had some good conversations and I’m pretty sure behind the scenes over time, he also became an advocate for me to say, “I think it’s time for Andy to move on to something different.” That certainly wasn’t how I had expected it to be, but I was glad that, as you say, I was humble enough to accept the need that I would need mentors like John and it paid off.

At some point, it does pay off and you move on. Tell us about that transition.

Probably like the next, I don’t know, 7 or 8 years of my career was moving into middle management where I was actually going to be managing people. This is not the way it is at Kimberly-Clark. I think it’s safe to say this happens in all industries. Great individual contributors are thrown into middle management and you have to learn how to swim typically on your own. There’s very little training for you.

Typically, your first instinct is, “I was a great individual contributor, so I’m going to do individual roles for the eight people who work for me to make sure the team succeeds.” Thankfully, it did not take me long to realize that that was going to be the quickest way to failure. Instead, I had to focus on my team. I found that you have to pick your people effectively.

Sometimes, that can be hard. It’s heavy lifting. I have to change your team or to coach somebody who’s maybe more senior than you or potentially more experienced in the function than you are. If you don’t do that, you’re going to have a challenge as a middle manager. I learned. Once you have the right team, empower them. Unleash them. Let them go. You’ve chosen them. At times, that may mean they stub their toe and have to be resilient and learn resilience, but it pays off in the end, is what I learned.

The Middle Manager’s Dilemma

Back to the idea that the individual contributor comes in and they’re good at their thing and that’s why they got promoted. We get that but they’re not given a lot of support at that moment. Not just to continue doing what they’ve been doing well, but now they’re in working with other people. They’re in charge of a team’s effort and a team’s result. I want to cover two things. One is, why doesn’t it work to have everybody hit home runs the way you were able to hit home runs. If I can do it, everybody in this group can do it. If everybody in this group does it, we’re eight times better and all that stuff. Why does that philosophy fail, in your experience?

I think managing a team is a different skillset than managing yourself. It’s easy to manage yourself. You’re in control of what you do. Whereas when you’re managing a team, especially in today’s workforce, it’s a diverse team. We want diverse teams because they produce better results. You’re going to be managing probably 8 to 10 people that are not exactly like you. You’ve got to learn what makes them tick, how they’re different, and how you can get the most out of them and coach them up. That’s a different skillset that most people don’t quite understand when they’re thrown in to be a team leader.

Managing a team is a different skill set than managing yourself. It’s a different skill set that most people don't quite understand when they're thrown in to be a team leader. Share on X

It’s not so much a rhetorical question, but it’s an enigma that we don’t have a solution to at the moment. It’s more the prevalent experience that people in those middle level roles are not provided the training and development opportunities that people that are more senior are offered. What’s your theory on that? After 30-plus years in a prolific organization, why does that still proliferate elsewhere? What do you think?

I don’t think people make it a priority to invest there. After years of having challenges with this more in a senior leader role, we did decide to prioritize a team that actually helped onboard and coach managers a capability team to do that because in sales it’s critically important. The sales manager is arguably much more important than the head of sales for making sure things get done. We did add a role there that would coach these folks, not only the brand-new people but the veterans who, in many cases, had been doing it wrong for many years. I don’t think a lot of companies do that. It’s an additional expense and they’d rather hire somebody to go sell than actually try to train and unleash your sales managers to be more successful.

To what extent do you think that that is a mistake? I’m not asking you to be critical of Kimberly-Clark I think philosophically speaking, do you think this is a miss for the organizations, generally speaking?

I think it is, and this is by no means a Kimberly-Clark-only issue. I think most companies deal with this. Certainly, many of the ones I’ve talked to have been in similar positions. You talk to any consultant when you take over a senior role. They’re always going to say, “Your middle managers are the folks you got to get the most out of.” It’s a common opportunity for improvement, I would say.

In my experience, what I also see is that the number one reason why people are dissatisfied with their jobs, with their roles, especially early in their career, is tied to who their manager. When you get so much feedback that people are unhappy with who manages them, you go, “Losing people, is that efficient?” It’s costly to have a turnover, isn’t it?

Big time, especially in sales. You have an open territory for 6, 12 months. If you don’t get this right it, it can cost the company a lot of business, a lot of opportunity. Absolutely, it is a critical opportunity for most companies to continue to focus on.

You were in that role for almost like another decade, is that right?

Yeah, I did maybe 3 or 4 different roles in middle management. I actually started running a product development team and I knew nothing about product development. That was interesting, managing product developers for ten years. I couldn’t do their job. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. I had to learn how to coach and teach versus go to develop products because I was a sales and marketing guy, but I also held middle management roles in supply chain and strategy and then in general management within the business, too.

People who are reading this who are managing their own career at this moment may be asked to do something that’s clearly not just outside of their comfort zone, that could be for sure, but outside of their expertise, outside of their core competencies, even. You were asked to do that. Tell us what that situation was like for you and how you ultimately came to say yes to that, even though potentially the pitfall was, “I’ll suck at this, I’ll fail and then I’ll have stalled my career because I made this wrong decision.”

I had a good boss in my last individual contributor role. She was like, “Andy, you can do this. This would be great.” I had had a career progression where the next thing had to be a middle management job. I was ready for that. It was something that was badly missing from my resume. I took a leap of faith with discussions with my boss and her boss as well as knowing this was the thing I needed to do. I was nervous. I guess it was an early career pivot, dare I say. I don’t even know. I had to learn new things and create new rituals, but I was happy I did it in a paid-off.

It almost tracks not quite identically, but you celebrated 30 years of marriage in 2024, right?

I am.

You were at Kimberly-Clark 2 or 3 years before you got married, is that right?

Yes, I was.

At this point, in taking that leap of faith, I’m asking you a personal question clearly, what was that like with your spouse at the time? Did that idea that this is a bit of a pivot right here, was that a conversation you recall having?

We probably had about 30 conversations. A year and a half, two years’ worth. I think you say this in the book. You have to have people like your family and your spouse on your side if you’re going to make a pivot like that. My wife, Diana, was incredibly supportive, listened to me, gave me the confidence to make the pivot as well as I knew she’d be on my side. She has been through that. It’s critically important, as you say in your book.

Transitioning To Senior Leadership

Let’s go right into now, senior-level stuff. That transition into a senior leader. Give us the gist of that transition and then some things that you’ve learned along that path because you’re getting into the problem solving is much more complex. Is that fair to say?

Definitely. You’re basically moving from first, managing yourself, then it’s managing teams, then it’s managing managers. You’ve got several layers then involved. One of the things that I learned through the years is that you have to clearly and frequently communicate with a large organization when you’re a senior leader. It needs to be a combination of things because people don’t grasp things the first time. You send an email and you’re like, “Everybody’s got it.” Nobody got it. You have a conference call or a video call, maybe a few more. The importance of communicating, especially during turbulent times and change, which is pretty much always, I learned was important. For us at Kimberly-Clark Professionals, especially during the pandemic, when so much changed quickly, the ability to communicate and be clear and genuine was critical.

I’ve had so many people, as I’ve left KC, say, “Andy, this is a strength of yours. We appreciate all you did there.” That was certainly one thing I learned. The importance of talent does not go away. We talked about needing to get middle managers on your side. That becomes more and more critical as you become a senior leader, making sure you’re picking and training the right people.

As a senior leader, you can’t work on everything. You’ve got to pick a couple of things that are big for the business on your strategy or implementing the strategy that you’re going to focus on. You got to empower your team to do the other things that are important but not as important because if you don’t do that, you’re going to work yourself to death. Every year, I tried to pick the top 2 or 3 things that could improve, in my case, our global sales organization, that I wanted to lean in on. I was going to let my team manage the rest. Those are a few things that come to mind. Do those make sense?

As a senior leader, you can't work on everything. You need to pick a couple things to focus on and empower your team to do the rest. Share on X

They do. I want to be redundant. Repeat, reiterate. I got it right and everybody else gets it right, too. The importance of communicating and communicating redundantly. Meaning, I think it is a mistake when you think that to repeat something or say it in some different way or check in with people to see that they’ve got it, that somehow or another that might even be demeaning or a waste of time to do those things.

I agree with you. I think you’re setting people up for success by repeating what’s important and then checking in and making sure people are reading from the same page of music that you are. That was one. The second one I heard was focusing on talent, which is I think, again, this important band in the middle of thinking about how you support those managers who are managing others.

Change Proof Podcast | Andy Clement | Career Resilience

Career Resilience: Set people up for success by repeating what’s important and then checking in and making sure people are reading from the same page of music that you are.


Whether it’s through training or it’s through mentorship or it’s through being on a listening tour, trying to hear what’s there to be heard. The last thing I heard from you was picking 2 or 3 things, but picking a few wildly important goals, I think, from The 4 Disciplines of Execution, which is a wonderful book. They talk about the WIG. We talk about that a lot at our company, too. What are those 2 or 3 things that you focus on so that there is focus and it isn’t trying to shock, like a spray of things that are all equally vital?

That’s another thing to communicate. We used to put out a growth agenda every year that said, “These are the things that we’re going to focus on this year. This is where Andy’s going to lean in.” Nobody’s trying to guess what I’m focused on. Often, if it wasn’t on that list, I’d say, “I appreciate it. You can work on that, but that is not something that Andy Clement has the time or bandwidth to do this year.”

This may be a tough question, but if you could think of one thing that was the hardest thing that didn’t happen just once. I’m not looking for like one pivot story in essence, but in the role as a member of a senior leadership team, is there one thing that is the hardest part of that role? Not every day, but throughout a ten-year period in that role, this thing showed up a number of times. What was that?

Over the course of ten years, buyers have changed a lot. We all know that. Think about how we buy stuff now at home versus where we were years ago. In B2B, it was the same way. Buyers were buying from different customers and buying in different ways. We had to make some organizational changes several times through the years. Not because we wanted to be bad people but because buyers were changing. For the future of our business, we needed to do that. Those are always so hard. You have to make changes to an organization, whether it’s moving people in roles or cutting roles. It was extremely painful to do. Something that a lot of companies have to do, especially if there’s a lot of change. There has been a B2B buy-in over the past decade. That’s what comes to mind.

Workforce reduction is something. I finished a book that I recommend. I’m going to recommend it to everybody reading this. Andy, I don’t know if you’ve read this thing, it’s called Shoe Dog. It’s the business memoir of Phil Knight, who’s the founder of Blue Ribbon. I think it was Blue Ribbon Industries or something like that but better known today as Nike. Out of 10, 12 years or something, it was Blue Ribbon.

I’m not giving anything away, but it’s a fascinating story of how it starts and all of it. Phil is a very charismatic leader and an entrepreneur and business owner, etc. In reading that book, I feel like at the end, of all the things that he looks back on with some element of regret, I love that he said this. I trust that these were truly his feelings when this ended up in the book. He felt like at a certain point at points, he wasn’t a good enough operator. He wasn’t a good enough manager himself to avoid these inevitable changes to the organization that resulted in people losing their jobs.

That’s a humble statement. It can ring hollow for anybody who’s ever lost their job and thinks it’s easy for somebody else to say, “I’m so sorry. I wish this hadn’t happened and it’s on me.” It’s about you or it’s on us. I felt it was genuine and that’s why I’m saying it now. I thought it was great to say that and to acknowledge that along the way and along the path to billions and billions of dollars of success, there are also these other stories of people who have been left on the side of the road.

Their pivot stories are different. Hopefully, when they look back ten years, hence from those moments, they’re going to say, “That was the greatest thing that could have happened to me.” I only say that because in the worst of the pivots in my life from a business or a financial standpoint, I look back on those, say those were the best moments, those are the most important moments in my development. You can’t know that or feel that when you’re in the middle of it. It’s tough.

The Resilience Mentality

Most cases, when people change jobs or leave a company, I’ve seen they end up in a better place, I would say, 99% of the time. For those months when you’re going through it, is incredibly painful.

Maybe that is a good lead into the concept of being resilient and staying resilient in a career that is long. It’s going to go quickly. Here’s a spoiler alert for everybody who doesn’t have my hairstyle or wherever you are. It’s going to go a lot more quickly than you could possibly imagine. Wherever you are right now, the resilience component, in my view, is going to depend on how resilient you are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually speaking. I’m going to ask you, a man who has had a long and illustrious career, how have you been resilient? What does resilience look like? How’s that taken on a life within your career, Andy?

First of all, you’re right. Thirty years goes incredibly fast. I can’t even believe we’re having this discussion in many ways. I think for me it was making sure I was taking the time outside of work for myself. We talked a little bit about the charity work that I was involved in at the beginning. Exercise, a lot of time with family, talking to my wife Diana and our kids, spending time with God, leading a small group for North Point Church, which we’ve done for years every Sunday night at our house. All were things that helped put life in perspective and helped me talk through it with other people that I think helped a lot.

The other thing I’ll raise up is that I’ve always had this mentality that I instilled in my kids at a very young age around Clements never lose. It’s not what you think when you hear that. What I told my kids, and this is when they were in elementary school, like after the Little League game or the test or ready to ask a girl out, was, “If you have a Clements never lose mentality, that doesn’t mean you win every time, but if you learn from your mistakes, you will never lose because you’ll not make the same mistake again. You’ll be more confident in your decisions.”

I mentioned that at a couple of Kimberly-Clark center stage presentations around Clements never lose and KCPs never lose with the same idea. Sometimes, we may not get every sale, but if we learn from that, we’re going to be that much better in the future. That’s a mentality we used in my family and we still talk about it many years later.

That’s so powerful as a dad. We are always in sales. That’s what business is. You’re in sales. Even internally in our company, it’s always I want to win. I probably got that from my dad and from being in the schoolyard and competing in sports and things like that. We can’t win all the time. It’s not even fair, honestly. Giannis is an NBA center and he plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. There is a famous YouTube video of him being grilled by the media about losing when they were expected to win. He is expected to be the MVP and all that thing.

He said a bunch of things, but one of the things that he said was, “It’s not always your turn to win.” It’s an element of competing that other people get to win as well. It’s not always your turn. I think it puts it in perspective as well that it’s not losing to lose, provided you are able to learn and apply experience and move forward. Where’s the loss in that? He was getting at the same thing. In our company, we think of it as a not now.

That’s what we call it when there’s the equivalent of a no. It’s a not now. I think it frames it in those terms because it’s not never. It’s just not now. It’s not now in this moment. It’s not now with that particular company or with that particular individual. It makes a big difference. I’m a believer in the power of words. It’s not just semantics. People who are reading this, you say, “That might sound good. That might be good for a presentation, but with my teams, are they going to chew on that or is it going to seem like too Pollyanna-like?” I could say that our teams love that. It’s a language change. We don’t think about closing sales. I know it’s an old expression that has been around forever and ever.

We think about opening relationships, but again, reframing, using language, applying language like Clements don’t lose, it’s a big deal in terms of what creates resilience when the storm is hitting. When the winds are blowing and everything is rocky underneath you or feels like that, you have to have stuff that immediately puts you in the right head space. You got to be able to think rightly be the eye of the storm. I see many people don’t have that capacity in part because they have not prepared ahead of time with language like that to be ready for when change occurs. Do you lean into that, too, Andy?

When the wind’s blowing and everything is rocky underneath, you need to have stuff that immediately puts you in the right headspace. Share on X

I totally buy into it, which was some of the thinking there with the statement, but change is going to happen in your life and in big companies, 90% of it is out of your control. You just have to learn. You have to be ready for it and deal with it. I totally agree.

Thinking About What’s Next

Those are the situations where it’s pivot by default. Stuff happens. There’s also pivot by design and you’ve designed a pivot, which I want to chat with you about for a minute here, too, which is you announced your retirement.

March 1st, 2024. I had a great career at Kimberly-Clark, but I’m ready to do something different. I wanted to make sure I was continuing to learn and grow, have a growth mindset. I felt that as much as I love the Kimberly-Clark people and our customers, maybe I was working hard but not growing and learning like I had been earlier in my career.

I’m in the process of figuring out what that pivot is going to be and doing a lot of things. I reread the Pivot book and actually, I feel like I’m doing some of the things that you list in the book. Finding that new ritual. Since I’m not in meetings from 7:30 AM to 6:30 at night every day, you need a new ritual. Similar to my career working on new mentors, people that maybe are 1 to 5 years ahead of me that seem super happy with their life and talking to them about what their secrets are, having left maybe a big company because no one pivots alone. Lastly, making sure I’m taking some baby steps to get started on the new career and doing so I’ve started at LLC, doing a little bit of consulting work to get going as a baby step.

Considering your stakeholders as well. I’m thinking for the content and pivot as well, you don’t do it alone. You do it as part of a team. When you think about where you are in your life right now and you career, and I say this to the audience, that mentality that sometimes we think we got to go it alone, it’s not that it could get in the way of success then or now for you, but later on. Thinking about what comes next or what might be next involves other people. It’ll involve that collaboration and that humility. If you’re not practiced at that, if that’s going to be a tough fit for you, the solo road will probably be what is left. It’s more what you lean in by default it’s your mode of being it.

I feel like we ought to know early on, as early on as possible how important it is that we are cultivating relationships with others. We are willing to be always in some stage of openness to learning and growth. Otherwise, it can be tougher that way. Nobody has this crystal ball for the road ahead. You are making a conscious choice to go into the unknown for yourself right now because growth is the only path. It’s the beginning path, it’s the end path, it’s all that.

Any thoughts? Maybe this is a mile marker that we look back on, you and I. Maybe there’s another part to our conversation. We look back and go, “Remember that day we talked about this? What was going on in your head back then?? Vulnerably speaking, are there concerns that you’ve got? Are there things you’re super excited about? You are replacing a ritual of being on task for particular in a structure that has existed now for 152 years, and you have detached from that mothership. What is this new ritual like for you? What are you already experiencing that you could share with us?

It is frightening, but it is exciting, is the way I would describe it. This started happening a month or two after I retired. I was like, “I’ve only got 8 emails a day versus 150.” It felt great, but it was scary. I’ve lost ten pounds and my blood pressure’s down. I am getting a chance to do things that I’ve not had a chance to do. Read books, listen to a lot more podcasts, learn in areas that I know I need to grow on, and continue to go somewhere else.

As you said, I’ve found so many people who have been willing to help and offer suggestions in a positive way. Some of them were colleagues and friends or mentors from Kimberly-Clark who have subsequently retired or moved on to their next phase. Others are people that come out of the woodwork. I’ve been blessed to have many folks step into my life and offer suggestions. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that there’s not a moment every day that I’m like, “Is this the right thing?”

Andy, I’ve gotten so much out of this conversation. Maybe it’s an intuition or a gut feeling about the fact that there are a lot of people reading that needed to read what you shared with us in this episode. I so appreciate you being on the show again and for our relationship as well. Thank you.

Thank you, Adam. I enjoyed it. I appreciate you having me on.

I would say that theme, the throughline for this discussion with Andy Clement, was a life in perspective. We chronologically captured his entire career. I say that boldly, but we did cover a lot. We looked at the insights that he learned, the kinds of things that he developed as skills and the wisdom of having been an individual contributor for almost a decade. A middle-level manager for another decade of his career. Finally, in the last 12, 13 years of his career with Kimberly-Clark, in many senior-level roles. He was running a giant sales organization, looking at buyer behaviors and making adjustments, having to do a lot of things, learn a lot of new skills, develop a lot of humans in business and in people management and people leadership. I love the conversation.

We talked about the professional side as well as the personal side. We talked about how we stay resilient, how we create resilience and stay resilient in our careers. I think there are a lot of insights there that you’re going to want to lean into, maybe reread to and share with other folks, of course, if that rings true for you. We talked about how it is that we develop these capabilities and we lean into the middle area of our career of many careers as well and the fact that there’s a lack of training often for that section.

If you’re there, if you’re not yet there, if you’re past that point and you’re in leadership roles, yourself, I think it’s wise to be thinking about how you support those rising leaders. We talked about so many things that I think are relevant in our personal pursuits now, how we want to achieve and what it takes to achieve outside of business, but also right there in our roles, in our jobs.

For many of you who own your own businesses, perhaps even in those entrepreneurial or side hustle pursuits, I think there’s tremendous wisdom. I love this conversation. Andy Clement is such a solid guy, as you can tell. I don’t think he would’ve had the career he did, an epic career with an amazing company that’s been around for 152 years. Talk about resilience. KC’s been around a long time. It’s a resilient brand, and no doubt better for the fact that for more than three decades, they had Andy Clement in important roles. Kudos to them and kudos to you all as well for leaning in, for reading.

We love the fact that you’re part of this expanding community. We want to support you in every way we can. Of course, we’d love to get your thoughts. You can always go to to leave a comment or a question from myself or for one of our guests. Take advantage of our Resilient Leader assessment by simply going to That’s an entirely free tool, a resource for you and for members of your team, even for members of your family, frankly. That’s there for you.

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About Andy Clement

Change Proof Podcast | Andy Clement | Career ResilienceAndy Clement just finished up a 33 year at Kimberly-Clark where he held roles in sales, marketing, operations, corporate strategy, and general management. He most recently was Chief Sales Officer for the company where he led the team through many go to market changes as buyer behaviors changed. He is married to his wife Diana and have two grown kids Jackson and Gracie.