My road to entrepreneurship was very, very unglamorous. You see, in May of 2006, I was laid off of my big fancy-pants career as an Organizational Development Consultant. “Laid off” was the official story…I was actually given an extremely generous “out” by a boss who saw right through my bullshit excuses and sob stories for why I wasn’t doing a great job. The hard truth was that I sucked as a consultant because I absolutely hated it!
You have to understand that this is a horrible thing to realize! I had poured everything into the dream of becoming a consultant in D.C., including an incredibly expensive and time consuming graduate degree. Discovering that your Big-Ass Dream (the one that took decades of energy + thousands of dollars to actualize) is actually making you MISERABLE is a major smack in the face. It’s agonizing. Demoralizing. Terrifying, too.
I tried to hide it, but my misery was palpable. My boss felt it, my co-workers felt it, and to the chagrin of all of us, my clients felt it. She asked me if I really wanted to be a consultant. And even though I knew it meant my job, I had to be honest with her (and myself) and say, “no.” She was incredibly gracious, pointing out that this demanding career was not meant for everyone, but that with my ambitious nature, I would still be wildly successful. I wasn’t fired, as I had not done anything “wrong” per-say, but we agreed to a lay-off with a little severance.
I spent the remainder of 2006 unemployed, broke, and completely freaked out. I had just turned 30, despised my chosen career, and had no idea what I really wanted to do. I reached out to my friends, classmates, colleagues, and others who were all turning 30 that year, too. (aka “my peeps”) Gradually, I stopped whining and started listening to these people. I began to realize that we had lots in common. We had followed all the rules, done the college thing, perhaps the grad school thing, went above and beyond with fellowships and internships, all in pursuit of some fabulous career. But 9 out of 10 of my peeps were absolutely miserable! They all said, “I don’t know what I want, but it sure is hell ain’t this!”
I began to search for the connection. Why were all these highly-competent-super-driven-successful-on-paper people so frustrated? What was it we were feeling?
The conclusion: we were all STUCK!
Once I had this mini-epiphany, I went to work looking for solutions. I reached back to the coaching community that I had dipped my toe into years before as a consultant. There were tons of life coaches who worked with people to get them unstuck, but I struggled to find one that “got me” because they were all my parents’ or grandparents’ age. There was a huge void of coaches for my peeps – people who felt stuck because of what they had chosen in college and completely clueless as to what they really wanted – people who didn’t want to wait until retirement to start answering these major life questions. I decided to fill that void!
That fall, I launched my very own business – a life coaching practice designed for my peeps. I dubbed myself “The Audacity Coach” specializing in helping “pretty awesome” people elevate into Extraordinary Individuals with adventurous missions and lifestyles to match. I diagnose my peeps’ suckdom, delineate strategies and drive people to ditch their dusty dreams and drum up new ones that rock.
And then BOOM – happily ever after! Well, not so much! Deciding to start my own coaching practice was a brilliant idea except for one major stumbling block :: MONEY! I was not going to be overnight sensation and still had bills to pay. So I scrambled to quickly get a job-job to pay the bills while I chased my dream. I was extremely lucky to score a position at The Container Store that paid about 2/3 of what I earned as a consultant. My wife and I had to scale our lifestyle way down, move out of Boston to the suburbs, and learn to live on a strict budget. It was scary to take that big a cut, but also extremely motivating to work on building my business. So I sold empty plastic boxes to soccer moms full-time for three years while simultaneously find my rhythm as The Audacity Coach. Then in 2009, we had earned enough to leave retail, move to New York City, and start living the dream at full speed!
I share my story to encourage you to do whatever it takes to make your entrepreneurial leap happen! Just jump in! You got this!!!
Check out Jennie’s Audacity Aces. A seven-part webinar series with luminaries + thought leaders in the world of career personality, business strategy, job-hunting, health + vibrancy, happiness design + sass-tastic confidence! For more information and to sign up click here.