I talked in my podcast how I grew up not really knowing there were other constructs for work (i.e., a professional career) than what I had traditionally known. The concept of entrepreneurism felt a bit “out there” and for certain personalities that I did not assume were like mine. I associated it with a certain amount of preliminary financial success- like you had to have great wealth to begin, or at the very least a wealthy husband to comfortably pave the way for your ideas to take shape. I think I watched WAY too many Instagram wives with investment banking husbands start their own businesses with relative ease. My mind definitely latched onto this belief, and since that didn’t seem to be the path I was on, entrepreneurism simply wasn’t an option.
Until it was.
In 2019, I began to work for a relatively small consulting firm just as I turned 40. In fact, I was in New Jersey attending a 2-day onboarding on my 40th birthday. My new boss (who is a former colleague and now a present-day dear friend) took me to a little Mexican restaurant (my favorite), and we chatted about the new adventure I had just began. Even then, it was clear to me that this new corporate gig was not my forever job, but it would be a great spot to learn how to work remotely (I was based in Massachusetts and the firm in New Jersey) without my boss or team in the next room. Talk about a handy lesson given what would come in 2020!
I have had a lot of bosses in my career. Some great, some not so great. I never thought of myself as someone who struggled with authority, but as I got older and more experienced, the less I wanted to report to someone else. I am a VERY disciplined person with a high level of responsibility (my parents never had to ask me to clean my room!). Work always got done well, often with a level of precision that would garner positive attention. But I wasn’t always a “team player” as one supervisor told me. I didn’t love following the rules just because someone told me to. And as I got more sophisticated in my skill sets, the less accepting I was of other people’s expectations of my performance. I imagine some supervisors found me obstinate at times (which admittedly, I was), and I grew weary of delivering high-level work at the request of other people. I made many supervisors look good without the success and freedom that I wanted. (The ego can be a sneaky motivator!)
When I realized I could work for myself, it was like an albatross had been lifted from my neck. It certainly wasn’t the easier option (more on that), but it did open a door that I did not know was available to me. Talk about freedom! When picking between two doors (higher education or corporate), a third door magically popped open. Entrepreneurship could unlock the kind of success and freedom I wanted. And funny enough, I didn’t know one damn thing about starting a business. Or so I thought!