You Pivot™: You’d Look Great in a Mercedes

Jim started out living the American story. He grew up in a middle-class home in the suburbs, married his high-school sweetheart, went to business school, and got a job in corporate America.  When he started having children, four before he was 34, finances were tight. He was driving a used Dodge Omni, 30 miles each way to work. On the way home on Friday night, if it was a good week, he bought a six-pack of Heineken, and at the end of the bad weeks, he bought a six-pack of Old Style. Something had to give.  Jim was making less than he needed to support his family and certainly less than his business school friends. The cataclysmic event was when he asked his boss for a raise and learned he was at the top of his pay scale. This conversation spurred him to look for a new job. At 29, he became the seventeenth employee and one of seven founding partners of a startup...
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You Pivot™: That Which Does Not Kill Us…

Friedrich Nietzsche's full quote from 1888, "Out of life's school of war — What does not kill me makes me stronger."  This quote came to mind as I was listening to Henry tell me his story. Perhaps it will resonate for you as well. Henry grew up in a middle-class home where his parents sacrificed extensively so that he and his sister could "have everything." He frequently heard them argue about money and decided early on that financial success was critical so as not to experience these same stressors. School came easy to Henry, at least easy enough that he could coast and get passing grades. After a physical transition (his family moved states) in his early high school years, he had an awakening and realized that he needed to perform if he was going to achieve financial success. He calls this his first transition. He went from "needing to have others recognize and appreciate my abilities to seeing my own value" and...
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YOU PIVOT™: Father Doesn’t Always Know Best

After conducting these interviews and writing these YOU PIVOT™ stories for nearly a year now, a common theme for the men I've interviewed is a choice to follow Dad's career path. This choice has worked well for some, reference Flunking Retirement: Marsh's story of following his dad into the military And for others, like Darnell, not so much. Darnell's dad was an engineer at the same company for 43 years. So... Darnell became an engineer. He realized even before he graduated, that wasn't what he wanted to do. Darnell knew he was a natural leader and a people person, so he pivoted toward an MBA. That said, the traditional corporate path was what he knew from his dad, so off he went to a big company. The plan was to "work my way up the ladder, punching the tickets - moving up to responsible positions. My stated goal then was to become president of a company within a company in my 40s". Along the way,...
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YOU PIVOT™: Taking the Boat off the Dock

It's an interesting coincidence that this month's interview with Sheila followed last month's with Marsh. They are both from the same generation, Sheila a bit younger at 75, and both followed similar, very intentional, highly accomplished corporate career paths. And yet, as a woman, perhaps because she is a woman, Sheila's story and her transitions were quite different from Marsh's.  Sheila came from humble beginnings in a small town in England. Her mother aspired to be a social climber, and her idea of success for Sheila was to become a bank teller. While banking became her chosen first career, little did mom know that Sheila would become the first woman business unit president of a Fortune 500 national bank.  Sheila was the first in her family to attend university after demonstrating she was a star student, taking Calculus at age ten and studying Economics at age thirteen! (perhaps a young genius, which she wouldn't admit when I asked). She had the intellect...
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YOU PIVOT™: Which Life -Career Version Are you In?

Careers, like software, require updates to keep them fresh.  Just as with software, Version 1.0, while it works, is just the beginning. For some, Version 1.0, is well thought out. These are the lucky ones. My husband, for example, knew when he was a child that he wanted to be an engineer. And, he did just that, even in high school he was preparing to become an engineer. For him, later versions consisted of different types of engineering roles, mechanical, quality, and ultimately design. He is always learning, always updating to a new version.  Me, on the other hand, I graduated high school at 16 because I was anxious to be on my own, except I had no idea what I wanted to do. I walked down the street and applied for a job at a local Savings & Loan Association1. Thus began my career in financial services, career Version 1.0. I eventually completed my undergraduate education, moved to Chicago, began Version...
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YOU PIVOT™: Flunking Retirement

When I began this interview with Marsh, now 80, the first thing he said is "I flunked retirement twice." We both agreed the word retirement doesn't work anymore. Version 3.0 of ourselves, even version 4.0, is not about endings, it's about beginnings. Discovering the content of the new beginning is both the hard part and the reward of the journey. Marsh began his career in the military, following his father into West Point and ultimately into the Marines. When the Vietnam War ended, he realized two things, 1) without a war, his military leadership options were limited. 2) if he wanted to change his career, he needed to control it. In the military, you went where you got assigned. With a wife and two children, this idea no longer appealed to Marsh.  So at the age of 35, Marsh decided to enter the corporate world. He sent letters to 85 companies and got zero interviews. When I asked him why, he said,...
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YOU PIVOT™: Face Your Fear

Ryan started his career in his early twenties, working for his dad. And, as is often the case, this young firebrand felt he knew better how to run the business, dad disagreed. On one thing they did agree, it was best that he go to work somewhere else.  After two years of working for a not-for-profit, Ryan went back to work for his dad. By then, he had learned that his dad knew a thing or two, and they developed a strong working relationship. Today he describes his father as his mentor.  Seven years later, Ryan had an idea for a business. He asked his dad to invest, and he said no. They kept talking, though, and with his dad's help, he put together a partnership that gave his dad the confidence to invest. Ryan eventually became the CEO of this company, and eleven years after its founding, at age 41, they sold to a Fortune 500...
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YOU PIVOT™: Integrating Body & Soul In Three Acts

Listen to my recent appearance on the 'On The Brink' podcast here. You 3.0 has become a regular feature of this blog. This month, I interviewed Valencia; her story follows. When Valencia was a child, she had a dream that she would travel the world when she grew up and teach people the secrets of the universe. Today, in what she calls Act III, she has found her calling as a Functional Medicine doctor helping women overcome stress and burnout. For Valencia, Act I began in high school when she decided to become a physician in her senior year. While she did not have any medical role models, she was always interested in the body and yet had a sense, even then, that heart and soul were critical elements to health.  She wanted to go to Harvard. Her parents made enough money to raise six children in a middle-class home, too much money for Valencia to get a loan for college, and not...
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YOU PIVOT™: A Man With A Plan

Listen to my recent appearance on the 'On The Brink' podcast here. You 3.0 has become a monthly feature of this blog. While most of us continue to shelter in place, I asked myself if I should pause these stories and decided they are as relevant now as ever. And, perhaps hearing others' stories may inspire you to create your own transition story when the virus is behind us.  This month, I interviewed Corey, what follows is his story.  Corey began his career as an actor. He fell into what ultimately led to founding a business while working as a temp at a management consulting firm to support his acting career. As luck would have it, Corey made friends with John, one of the Managing Partners of the firm where he worked his temp job.   One day, John offered, "if you are ever interested in making a career move and joining us full-time, I can help." Not too long...
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YOU PIVOT™: Leaving Ownership, For Now

Listen to my recent appearance on the 'On The Brink' podcast here. As part of my continuing YOU PIVOT™ Series, I interviewed Ray to hear his story.   Ray started his career in the large-corporate world, added a couple of gigs with smaller companies, and after a dozen years of working for others, he founded a company which he led for 11 years. Ray sold his business eight years ago, at the age of 45, and today is the sales and business development leader for a company where he has no ownership interest.  Much like Jake, who I wrote about last month, here, Ray was burned-out after the sale.  "The guys who acquired my company were hardcore, high motor people. Because I had an earn-out, I was spending all my time protecting my customers and my employees. It was exhausting. I managed to stay twelve of the fifteen months of my agreement. I had a two-year non-compete, which at the time seemed onerous and, in retrospect, was...
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