The most wonderful relationships can run their course; the greatest love affairs can go sour; the sweetest friendships can meet a bitter end and even the most invincible people may leave each other through death or divorce but I never saw a day that I would fall out of love with a company that was my pride and joy, my identity, my definition of productivity, and my one true measure of success.
They say people don’t leave companies; they leave managers.
Oh really? I specifically did not want to leave because I was blessed with wonderful managers.
I precisely left the company, the institution and the entity; I left what it had all come to represent, in exchange for its initial greatness. I left because I could no longer watch how far it had fallen from integrity and a sense of duty to what it used to consider its greatest asset – and what continues to be that asset, even as they turn a blind eye to it – the employees, the people, the soul and the heartbeat of the workplace.
I left behind an 11-½ year career, a 6-figure income with bonus and stock options, a super easy job that I did from home – on those occasions when I had something to do! – because I found something far more important, urgent, and indispensable that could no longer be silenced or shoved aside.
Not to keep you waiting with bated breath, but if you are brand new here, I should add some context for you to do some justice to the weight of all this, lest there be any misunderstanding because you see, this is one blog post where there can be no misunderstanding!
I am a material girl through and through.
The idea of a minimalist lifestyle and selling all that I own is not for me (although I love the idea of minimalism for the mind; more on that later). I admire you if it is for you, just as I admire my friends who have done it so brilliantly – so hear me out again, I really admire you if you can give up your earthly possessions for a true sense of freedom; me, I love my possessions. I’ve had to leave things behind before, I’ve had to start all over and live through tough years with my family so the idea of a modest lifestyle does not generally hold much appeal and financial comfort is of supreme importance to me. And boy have I worked hard, so extremely hard, for this level of comfort.
So yes, I love my possessions. I love my Persian rugs, my Italian furniture, my tango shoes, my cosmopolitan clothes, my Schimmel piano, my luxury travel, my first class flights on Cathay Pacific, and my one-too-many Apple gadgets. In short, I love financial freedom.
Quite honestly, I love money and the pursuit of obscene wealth enthralls me. And you will never hear me apologizing for it. Not ever.
Few will admit it even if that is precisely how they feel but transparency is important to me and I choose to be honest with you. I believe no evil has ever risen from money just as no good has come from money itself; money is simply a tool to do with as you please and all evil and good rises from the hands that touch that money. So yes, make no mistake about it, I loved my income.
Anyway, where were we?
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Oh yes. Why I gave it all up and what has this material girl found worth more than the largest Cartier she can ever hope to wear?
Well, you see, something funny happened on the way to the top.
I did not just love this corporation; I wanted to become a leader and run the place someday. I wanted to succeed the CEO himself. I wanted to be on the cover of Fortune magazine as a recognized industry leader for the massive differences I would make in the direction of the company, the movement of the stock price and the lives of the employees. I wanted to climb that corporate ladder and break through any glass ceiling, symbolic or real. I wanted to give my all to it and no one was going to dissuade me.
Except that I did not account for the unwelcome changes that were in store.
I did not foresee that even a company so fabulous, so promising, so unique, with such a strong foundation and such an amazing culture, would fall into the trap of bureaucracy and politics, bad decisions and empty promises. I did not believe it until I saw leadership without a vision, corporate initiatives without meaning, expensive consultants void of good intentions, endless virtual meetings without a purpose and long drawn-out projects without worthy results. I did not believe I would see the day that top talent, immeasurable loyalty, and a long-standing unique culture would be trampled under the weight of all this nonsense.
Ummmm. Yeah. I was kinda wrong about that one.
A few years ago, these sad visions came to be and only worsened over time. One day, I turned a corner and decided never to become a leader in a place such as this. I decided to be a great employee to my direct team and my wonderful manager but to set aside my lousy ambitions to climb that ladder that clearly led to no sense of true fulfillment. I was able to disassociate the company entirely from my immediate team and in that narrow field of vision, I found a sense of daily accomplishment and it was enough.
Plus, I still had my income and you recall how I felt about that. Right?
It is funny how many things started flowing my way when I operated in this mode. In my early years of career when I was grossly underpaid and heavily overworked, I would have killed for the promotions, raises and nice bonuses that came only in my recent years. Working smart more so than working hard is my advice to you or else, I simply cannot explain it. But still, even with a comfortable income, I felt lost and unhappy in my career.
There were moments of great accomplishment even in the last few years and some unforgettable times with a brilliant leader, an adored manager, and a fabulous team but deep down, I was neither challenged nor fulfilled. My interests were waning fast in all things corporate and technical and moving away into talents and skills that I’d been dying to explore: writing, blogging, reading, photography, yoga, world travel, communication, public speaking, art, and finding the right outlet for it all. Thus, Prolific Living was born in the spring of 2009.
For a while, I had balance and happiness. The world of blogging and learning opened me to many new horizons; I was in love again. The idea of creating and building something with freedom of expression and with intent to help others live a better life was intoxicating, but alas, it was a hobby. Blogging never ever mixed with my work. I was able to do both and do both very well. Until Blogworld in October 2010.
It had never occurred to me that I could turn a passion into a profit and a hobby into my life’s work.
I used to think entrepreneurship is reserved for MBA junkies, for the gutsy brave souls out there who are willing to starve before signing up at corporation XYZ and for a few brilliant minds. Me? No way. I loved my income. Remember? I could do without loving the job – after all, is that not the norm? Is not everyone resigned to a job being just a job and a third of our lives being spent in whatever form or shape necessary in order to fund the rest of our hours? I was starting to question my fundamental theories now. I remember my awakening happened precisely when Darren Rowse said: “That was the day that I started to treat my blog as a business.”
Something shifted at that instant in my heart and I felt a ray of hope and clarity I had not known before.
Well, I did not quit my job just yet but I took the blog – and my dream of entrepreneurship. Now, I have written 4 books – check out my Amazon Author page and be inspired by what you too can do in a short time when you are focused and doing what you LOVE! I wrote 50+ guest posts, I got the attention of media, I build solid relationships, I started a newsletter, tripled my subscribers, and started to create my own products.
I spent untold hours on building on these passions but to give up on the comfort and security of everything to do this full-time? Was I mad? A financially conservative and smart girl is not about to do something that insane. Or is she?
By April, my heart was pining for freedom – the freedom of entrepreneurship – and yet I had every intention to continue working my real job if only there were something worthwhile to be asked to do. I had been put on a nightmare of a yearlong corporate initiative and for once, I had worked up the courage to ask to be begged off this dreadful project where none of my skills were used and none of my opinions entertained. Where is real leadership when you need it? It certainly was not around when I needed it. This time, when I was put between a rock and a hard place, I made the choice to walk away.
On April 15th, 2011, I resigned from a company I used to love and had now grown to, well, not love anymore and a dream that had long since ceased to exist.
I was done being put in a corner and being stifled when so much life was waiting to gush out. I was done giving up so much as another hour of my life to projects that did not align to my values and pursuits that did not beat to the rhythm of my heart. I was done putting my dreams on hold and living in fear of not being able to make it.
I admit I have never felt so excited and terrified at the same time!
Yet, I feel a conviction deep within my soul and sanctum that I made the right choice. I believe with every fiber of my being that there is no way in this world you can fail when you listen to the calling of your heart and the pleading of your soul. I know – I just know – this is the only right path to feed my insatiable appetite to live fully and create a life on my own terms.
If you want to venture out on your own, pursue a call to greatness and a meaningful life on your own terms, if you want killer motivation combined with practical advice, do it. Do not wait for permission. Do not wait for acceptance or validation. Do Not Wait, my friend, because time is the one thing that you cannot buy back with all the gold and power in the world.
PS: In September 2011, I started a bold uncensored career newsletter to help you create your Exit Strategy from the Corporate World. Sign up below:
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This post has run way too long, my darling readers, and I have to sing my praise to new-found freedom, my new dreams and my plans for what is to come in Part 2. You will be back, won’t you?
But before you take your leave, do share your fabulous thoughts about my crazy decision and as always, thank you for being here!