YOU PIVOT™: A Tale of Two Transitions

Listen to my recent appearance on the ‘On The Brink’ podcast here.

As part of my continuing YOU PIVOT™ series, I interviewed Jake to hear his story of two life transitions and what he learned from each.

The process of selling the business absorbed his full attention, but the afternoon after the close, Jake went home ill-prepared for how he felt and with no idea what was next. 

Jake and his partner sold their first company in 1996. He was only 41 at the time, and while he wasn’t emotionally ready to move on, the market was starting to turn, and they knew it was the right time to sell. 

“Before this, my biggest transactions were – car, marriage, house. I was an emotional wreck. I turned on the TV, sat down to watch and immediately knew that was not what I was going to do. But I was so exhausted, that I spun out. In retrospect, I was depressed. I’ve never been depressed before or since, so I didn’t understand what was happening. I was aimless for about three months.”

“The kind of coaching you do wasn’t available back then. If it were I would have started to think about actions before the end arrived. Working with you would have given me the confidence to trust myself, that something would happen.”

On the positive side, once Jake got himself moving, he and his previous partner started a new company.  

“Fast forward 20ish years later, when I sold my last company, I knew I had to work not to be blindsided by the ending. While I knew I had to devote my attention to the sale, I also knew I had to start looking around for what would be next. For me the looking around was enough, it gave me the confidence that something would happen, I didn’t have to know what it was.” 

When you get off the treadmill, your heart is racing – you need to walk around, slow it down, not stop and watch TV.

Today at 65, after walking around and exploring options for about a year, Jake has built a life portfolio. He is actively involved with entrepreneurs like himself. He coaches one or two directly, including his son, and he has taken a leadership role in evaluating and selecting candidates for an Angel Fund in which he invests. 

I asked Jake to share what he learned from these two transitions; here are the top 5 he shared:

  1. I was naive not to think about or worry about the future when I sold my first business 
  2. Come to terms with what you want next, think about which option is most appealing; starting or operating another business, helping other companies get where they want to be, learning something new or some combination of options
  3. Think about, when all is said and done, what do I want people to say about me
  4. Along the way, before an exit, make the changes you need to make to give yourself enough distance to objectively see, “your baby will be safe.”
  5. Focus on self-interest – secure my investments – active role – interesting volunteer work or other work that is a fit with my background

Let’s work together. You can learn more about my leadership coaching and peer advisory boards here. 

If you have a story you are willing to share in this blog or know someone who does; please contact me. 

YOU PIVOT™: When and Where Did You Begin?

Last month I wrote a blog entitled Which Career Version Are You In? I shared some of my thoughts about career patterns and a bit of my own story. Since then, I have heard from several of my readers and clients sharing their stories. Each story is a bit different, and yet, there are common themes. As I continue to explore these themes, I will be sharing them in this blog..

It seems the place to start is, of course, at the beginning. Career Version 1.0 is the stage where we are first trying to figure it all out. Some of us chose the traditional route, i.e., we graduated high school, went to college for four years, and then started in the work world.

For others, particularly it seems with entrepreneurs, the route may have been more circuitous. Those of us in this category may have attended college, maybe not right after graduating from high school, or perhaps skipped college, or left to start a business.

Whatever the preparatory part was, or not, we ended up in the work world on a path toward independence. What I am beginning to wonder is the path we choose toward Version 1.0, a predictor of when and what we choose for later versions?

It is this question that I am pursuing as I learn more about choices my clients have made and are making today.

For me, as I shared in my earlier blog on this topic, I chose, or perhaps more accurately, fell into, the circuitous path. As a young woman entering the workforce in the early seventies, there were few female role models. Only two women were in senior roles at my first company. One, who became a mentor, started her career at age 45 after raising her children; and the other was near the end of hers, having never married nor had children. While my mentor was someone, I admired and learned from, at age 16, neither story resonated. So, I watched and attempted to follow the male mentors and role models I had. I pursued a corporate career and went back to correct the education I had missed.

It wasn’t until I hit the early part of Version 2.0, where one begins to accumulate some savings/wealth, that choice became an option. And that led to becoming an entrepreneur. Ironically my father was an entrepreneur and he got there following the circuitous path. He, too, started in a corporate job, briefly joined his family business, and then a few years later founded his company.

When I think about stories of  leaders I know who followed the circuitous path, some founded their business early on, but many followed the traditional “get a large corporate job and work your way up” and then veered left. We may have departed the large-corporate world for a privately held company, started a business or some combination thereof.

I will share some of these stories in coming weeks as I begin to sort out whether there are patterns in our early choices that predict choices when we reach 2.0 and 3.0.

Let’s work together. You can learn more about my leadership coaching and peer advisory boards here.