My career story
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by human behavior. While majoring in psychology during my college years at Northwestern University, I found myself fascinated with the science of sleep, social psychology, motivation, decision-making, and perceptions of self-worth. I briefly worked in a laboratory studying Obsessive Compulsive Behavior (OCD) at the National Institutes of Mental Health, which taught me about anxiety and clinical research.
Later, my interest in human behavior shifted toward organizational behavior as an employee within a rapidly growing start-up consulting firm in Washington, DC. I eventually went on to spend 10 years focused on consumer behavior in the marketplace as a packaged-goods brand marketer for both start-up and blue-chip corporations in the US & UK before eventually launching my own career consultancy focused on helping people relaunch their careers to pursue more meaningful work.
3 Defining moments fueled my career change work
Over the past couple decades, I’ve followed quite a non-traditional career path, meandering somewhat randomly yet intentionally through a wide range of experiences, each of which has shaped who I am today.
After college, I took a leap and moved to Waikiki, Hawaii, mostly on a whim because I’d spent the past four years in chilly Chicago, and also figured, when else could I do something like this? To make ends meet, I sold life insurance and worked as a retail associate at Banana Republic (which I LOVED) while moonlighting as an on-air news anchor for the National Public Radio affiliate in Honolulu. I never knew I was planting the seeds to my passion for both journalism and business, eventually launching my own career podcast 15 years later called Career Relaunch.
My radio anchor stint, Hawaii Public Radio 2001
We all have defining moments in life. At the age of 17, I had a chest surgery that convinced me I wanted to become a physician. But that wasn’t the defining moment. Seven years later, after a tremendous amount of personal investment, I matriculated to the Georgetown School of Medicine, only to have my first defining moment come two weeks later when I withdrew from medical school, abruptly ending my long journey toward pursuing what I thought was my calling. I realized I was heading down the wrong path, and I decided to change course. I share more of this story in my TEDx Talk on Reshaping the Story of Your Career.
My White Coat ceremony, Georgetown 2002
Leaving medical school taught me two things:
- Investment is incredibly stubborn. Life has a certain inertia and momentum that, even when negative or in conflict with our values, can feel impossible to change. It’s like being on a train barreling down a certain set of railroad tracks. It’s hard to jump off, even if you’re not sure you’re headed in the right direction.
- Writing your own rules is okay and necessary. This pivot in my life convinced me we all owe it to ourselves to be true to our own values and visions in life. To pursue what you want to do, not necessarily what you should do with your life. Even if what you’re doing looks good on paper or admirable to others, if your work doesn’t truly fulfill you, it slowly eats away at your soul.
After quitting medical school, my life was a mess. I had no idea where I wanted to take my career. But I just tried to put one foot in front of the other, and do my best to improvise and figure things out.
I quickly landed at a health policy consulting firm, which was my attempt at combining my interest in business (that I’d put aside for so many years) with my educational background in the health sciences. I worked at the Health Strategies Consultancy in Washington, DC, which turned out to be my first foray into brand management when I got involved with an initiative to rename the company to Avalere Health. I was fascinated by the idea of relaunching a brand, and decided to pursue my MBA at the University of Michigan. I eventually focused my studies on marketing and entrepreneurship, which served as a great on-ramp to the next chapter of my career in the consumer packaged goods industry.
My early corporate branding days
I went on to spend the next 7 years marketing trash bags, drain opener, luxury desserts, and finally ice cream for both start-up and blue-chip consumer goods companies in the US & UK. I’m thankful for having the opportunity to experience each of these unique chapters in my life, which all made me who I am today.
Eventually though, I grew tired of trying to get more consumers to buy more stuff. During my years in the corporate world, I had developed a passion for managing and mentoring others, so I decided to enroll in the Coaches Training Institute in London, and I eventually obtained my Associate Certified Coach credential from the International Coach Federation.
In 2012, a few months after getting married, my father passed away. His passing was a huge blow to me, and forced me to reevaluate where my own life and career were headed.
As much as I enjoyed the comforts and predictability of my full-time job in the corporate world, and the reputation it afforded me, I decided it no longer held enough meaning for me. My third major career relaunch took place when I made the leap to leave my corporate job behind in 2013 so I could fully dedicate myself to helping others relaunch their careers.
My days of marketing trash bags
Career change requires a bit of bravery
When it comes to career change, I believe you must embrace whatever life throws at you. However, I also believe you also must be willing to let go of what you have to make room for something else more meaningful. In my life, this philosophy gave me the motivation to maintain my momentum after my first taste of brand management to pursue my MBA. To trust my instincts and hand a note to a beautiful woman in the Heathrow airport one day, someone I would eventually marry 6 years later. To leave my stable job behind in the Bay Area to start a new life in London. To turn down attractive job opportunities by putting a stake in the ground and sticking to my principles, my values.
In each of these cases, I was guided by a fundamental principle: to bravely evolve my life as I myself evolved. Leaving the status quo behind is often the most sincere way to truly honor your current values and priorities.
The resources here are intended to help you illuminate a new path forward as you move into the next phase of your career or bring a new business idea to life. Feel free to check out some of my favourite resources, download your career change roadmap, or contact me if you would like to discuss your career situation and how I can help you.
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions about my workshops,
speaking engagements, products, podcast, corporate coaching, or just want to say Hi.