What does it take to leave your international corporate job behind to return to school and pursue your true passions? In this episode of Career Relaunch, Audrey Lemargue, a former Cosmetics Export Manager turned Naturopath shares her thoughts on the importance of career exploration, respecting your emotions, and trusting your career instincts. During the Mental Fuel segment, I share thoughts on the upside of “career dabbling.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Give yourself the time and room to explore. With patience, the answers will come to you, and you may just stumble upon something perfect.
  2. Never neglect anyone you meet. You never know what you can learn from people you cross paths with.
  3. Discovering your true passions is like falling in love. It feels fresh and exciting, but also very familiar.

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Free Tool: Define Your Commitments

Mental FuelDuring this episode’s Mental Fuel segment, I talked about the upside of “career dabbling” and taking the initiative to explore your interests outside your day job. To help brainstorm ways to do this, download my “Test the Waters” Worksheet.

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About Audrey Lemargue, Naturopath in Training, Iswari Superfoods Marketer

After working in the Perfume and Cosmetics industry traveling the world for nearly 15 years, Audrey Lemargue decided to take a break to find her true calling. After several months of reflection time where she tried to get in touch with her creative side, she had an epiphany one day after watching an interview of this amazing 86 year old French Naturopath. The inspiration was so deep that she started researching courses to become a Naturopath herself.

Now, Audrey’s a student at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London, set to finish her program Dec 2017. She also works in Sales and Marketing position for Iwari, a superfood company that recently expanded to the UK. She was recently featured in the Sept 2016 edition of Healthy Living Magazine.

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Episode Interview Transcript

Teaser (first ~15s): Trust your gut feeling and follow your instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t. Give yourself the time to actually figure it out. The answer will come eventually if you keep your mind open.

Joseph: Hey, Audrey. Welcome to Career Relaunch. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your current focus on naturopathic medicine and mostly how you found this true calling. Just to kick things off, can you tell me a little bit about what’s keeping you busy right now?

Audrey: Thank you for having me first of all. At the moment, I’m starting to become a naturopathic nutritionist, and I’m also working part-time for a superfood company. That’s keeping me very busy.

Joseph: What does a naturopathic nutritionist do?

Audrey: It’s a holistic way to approach nutritionism and to treat people, to treat people in a natural way. Basically, Hippocrates said, ‘Let food be your first remedy,’ and that’s what we’re doing as nutritionists.

Joseph: How we met was very random. I was at a Planet Organic in London, and you were sampling this really interesting stuff that I’d never seen before, which is this raw superfood breakfast powder. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about, first of all, what you do at Iswari. After that, we can go into what you were doing before.

Audrey: Iswari is a superfood company that is originally started in Portugal and Ireland six year ago, and they do superfoods. Among them, the Buddha’s Awakening, which is quite a fantastic product, they’ve been on the market for six years, and they’re now starting to explore the UK market, and I’m the person that they chose to do that for them.

Joseph: I want to hear a little bit more about Iswari at the end of the this conversation, but before we do that, can you tell people what you were doing before you got involved with naturopathic nutrition and superfoods and Iswari? Because I was really surprised to hear that you’d actually spent 15 years in the perfume and cosmetics industry before moving into this line of work.

Audrey: I was working as an expert manager for a perfume company based in France, and I was in charge of the Americas. I was traveling a lot through the Americas for this company. It was very exciting but also a very hectic time of my life.

Joseph: When did it occur to you that you wanted to make a change?

Audrey: I think I wanted to make a change years before that, but it takes time to sink in. First of all, because I didn’t feel completely in-tune with what I was doing in terms of what I was selling and the type of business it was although it was a very nice industry. The other thing is, as you grow older, the traveling, although it’s still very exciting and you’re still meeting very interesting people, becomes also very tiring, and you want to get grounded with your family and your personal life, and it’s not always compatible.

Joseph: You mentioned that it took you several years between the time you realized that maybe this isn’t right for you, and the time when you took off. What was happening for you during those few years?

Audrey: There’s a lot of questioning going on. ‘Am I in the right place? Should I be doing something that makes me happier on a daily basis that I’m happy to wake up to and go to work for in the morning and that I feel passionate about?’ I couldn’t find the passion anymore, I would say, after the first 10 years. When I say 15 years, it probably took me about 5 years to take the leap of faith and change the career.

Joseph: What made that tough?

Audrey: Fear. Fear is the first thing that makes it tough because it’s hard to actually start something that you don’t know at all and also because you don’t know what you want to do. It took me time to realize what it was that made me feel happy and passionate.

Joseph: Can you just give us a little insight into how you figured that out? One of the things that I hear from a lot of people who aren’t happy in their current roles is, ‘I know I don’t want to do this, but I actually don’t know what I’d want to do instead.’ Did you do anything in particular to help you put the pieces of that puzzle together?

Audrey: First of all, I actually took the time, and I quit my job. I needed the time to think. I needed the time to actually process what it was that I wanted to do. This is the hardest question to answer, so I actually explored more of my creative side. I started taking piano lessons. I took acting lessons. These helped me to disconnect with the corporate world completely and open my mind to other things.

Joseph: I see, so you were just pursuing things that interested you. Would it be safe to say you didn’t know if those are necessarily going to transpire into another career?

Audrey: It didn’t make me interested to the point that I was going to take another career and think, ‘I’m going to become a musician,’ or, ‘I’m going to become an actress or something like that. That was something that I knew I enjoyed doing, but it was not going to push me to the point where I was going to start over from scratch in those fields. It was a very good way to spend time.

Also because when you quit a job and you quit a career and you destroy everything you built in a way to rebuild something new, there’s a time where you go through thinking, ‘This is crazy. I’m going to need money at some point, and I need to find a job that actually will pay my bills. I might go back to what I knew,’ so you’re a bit depressed. To get over that depression, you need to put yourself out there and keep going and searching.

As some point, for me, what happened is that I was exploring a lot of things, and something, one day, just on the internet, something so simple—and thanks to Iswari actually because I knew about Iswari as a company before I started working for them—they had this interview of this naturopath, a French lady, 86 years old. That was a revelation to me because she was such an inspiration of how she led her life, what she was doing in terms of treating people, how she did it. After that, after watching that video of this interview of this lady, I was researching how to become a naturopath, how to become a nutritionist, and everything fell into place so fast after that. It was like a matter of days.

Joseph: How did you know that this particular interest was more than just an interest like the piano or like acting? What made this different?

Audrey: It’s like falling in love for the first time again. It was a bit like that, love at the first sight feeling. It was really that straightforward.

Joseph: You felt an emotion. That’s how you knew?

Audrey: Exactly. That was very strong emotion that drove me and pushed me to do whatever I needed to do. It was interesting because it was completely different from what I had been doing before in the past, very new but also very familiar at the same time.

Joseph: How did people react to the fact that you decided to quit even though you didn’t know exactly what you wanted to do next.

Audrey: I had two sides of people around me: one side that really understood that I needed to combine not only my personal life but also what was going inside me as not being completely satisfied with the current situation in my work and the other side that was thinking, ‘Maybe I should’ve kept going,’ and a lot of people actually stay in their jobs for ears without really enjoying it.

Joseph: How did you deal with that? How did you deal with people who told you, ‘Audrey, you’re crazy for leaving that behind’?

Audrey: It is hard because inside of you, you’re a bit torn between the convention, the conformity, and the craziness of actually having the guts to quit your job and pursue something different that you don’t know what it is yet. At the beginning, it was hard to convince people that I was doing the right thing, but then, as time went by, it became clearer that I didn’t want to go back. As soon as I actually realized that I wanted to become a nutritionist and naturopath, it was very easy. All of a sudden, I had an answer for everything, and it didn’t matter what people thought about what I was doing anymore because I knew this was the right thing for me.

Joseph: Did you go ahead and apply for the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London?

Audrey: I applied for the college, and luckily, they were starting the summer school the week after.

Joseph: Wow, lucky.

Audrey: It was like, when things are right, they fall into place quite easily.

Joseph: When you were thinking about returning to school—I talk to a lot of people, and they’re thinking about making a career change, and it requires them going back to get a Master’s degree or to get a Doctoral degree—how did you make the decision that it was worth it for you to invest the time and the money to go back to school?

Audrey: For me, it was like, ‘This is what I needed to do, and it doesn’t matter that it’s going to take another three or four years for me to get there because the journey will be so much fun.’ This is how I thought about it, because going back to school implies a lot of studying, a lot of researching, especially in the field where I’m going because I do a lot of research-based assignments. I’m now reading research papers from medical doctors and from medical journals, which is quite heavy. It is different from the business and corporate world. However, I’ve learned so much. It opened my mind to so many other things, and I’m thinking to myself, I knew so little, and I still know so still, and I want to keep learning more and more all through my life. It’s a pleasure really. It’s more like something that I enjoy doing.

It’s funny how when I left college, when I graduated from business school, I was so happy and relieved it was over probably because from the beginning, it wasn’t my real calling. Now, I don’t want it to end because every new lecture I get or every subject we approach is a door open to something that fascinates me.

Joseph: That’s really interesting, the tension between feeling relieved when something is over versus feeling excited and energized. Was there anything tough about making the transition from being a high-powered corporate employee to someone who is back in school?

Audrey: All of a sudden, I felt that I was doing what I was meant to be doing all my life. It was actually very exciting. It was nice to also put myself in a different position where I was taking a seat back and observing and learning and not being the one who’s teaching and managing people and telling them what to do and how to do it. Because it’s a completely different field and we’re talking about medicine, because the first years is really studying biomedicine, I was very handled by the lecturers and the knowledge I was getting from them. That inspired me so much that, at this point right now, I want to keep studying and studying more and learning from others.

Joseph: Knowing what you know now, is there some sort of advice you would offer to yourself when you were back in the corporate world, not quite ready to leave yet?

Audrey: Trust your gut feeling and follow your instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t. Give yourself the time to actually figure it out. The answer will come eventually if you keep your mind open. I would give myself that trust and that confidence.

Joseph: Do you think you could’ve done this exploration while holding down the full-time job in the corporate world?

Audrey: I don’t believe so because while you’re working in the corporate world, it takes all your thoughts. If you want to do your job properly, which I was committed to do, it would have been difficult to leave space to wonder and think about what would have been the right thing for me. I needed actually that free time, that free space that’s time where you’re actually thinking to yourself, ‘What am I going to do with my day today?’ and let things come into you. That’s, I think, something that is sometimes difficult in the corporate world, especially if you’re highly invested in what you’re doing.

Joseph: I can definitely relate to that. I know that when I was thinking about branching off to do my own thing, it was really hard to balance the full-time job with the side projects. There’s just not enough energy and time in your day to do both. It’s very hard to juggle the two.

Audrey: It’s hard and frustrating because as soon as you start opening the window to something that actually lights up a bulb for you, you don’t want to be doing the other thing anymore. It’s like two antagonistic things that’s really tearing you apart.

Joseph: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Audrey: I received it from my brother-in-law years ago, because I was telling him how lucky I was that I was doing an internship in Miami when I’m French originally from Paris, and my friends and mates were all in France in Paris, gray and dark and rainy, when I was working in Miami, sunny Miami by the beach. He said to me, ‘Actually, Audrey, you create your own opportunities and you made that happen for yourself.’ I think that was so true what he said. We create our own opportunities. It depends what you set your mind to do. I’ve always followed that in life. If I want to do something and if I want to live a better life, it falls onto me to create that opportunity.

Joseph: I’m totally with you on that, Audrey. I’m not a big believer in fate. I’m definitely a big believer in hard work and trying to create your own opportunities. Your luck only takes you so far, then you’ve got to make it happen.

Audrey: Exactly, being a go-getter.

Joseph: Absolutely. Finally, what’s one habit that has consistently served you well throughout this journey?

Audrey: I think it’s more like a personality thing. I treat everyone with respect and with genuine care. In my career as a top manager, when I was visiting my markets and I was discussing with the beauty advisers that we’re working on the shop for, I always, always took the time to get to know people I was working with and treat everyone equally and being very handled by the information and the things that they were giving me because I was learning from everyone. Never neglect anyone you meet because that person on your path can teach you something interesting and can actually give you so much. You always think you’re going to teach people things, but actually, I think, people teach you so much more if you listen.

Joseph: Great habit to have, because the world is small, and you can not only learn a lot from people, but you also might run into people when you least expect it. It’s been really great to hear your story, Audrey. Not only the shift between the corporate world and moving into natural medicine but also your decision to return back to school to help you get there. If people want to learn more about you or they want to learn more about Iswari, where can they go to find out more?

Audrey: If they want to find out more about Iswari, it’s easy to go to Iswari.net or Iswari.co.uk. About myself, at the moment, I’m on LinkedIn, and I’m thinking and working on probably starting my own blog or website further down the line to talk about my own experience in the natural and naturopathic world and nutrition.

Joseph: I’m telling everybody Iswari because I now sprinkle it on my breakfast cereal every single day. We put it on our yogurt every single day. We’re addicts. Thank you so much, Audrey, for your time. It’s been really interesting to hear your story, and I wish you the best in your studies and in your time at Iswari and hope it all goes well for you.

Audrey: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to share.

About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu is dedicated to helping people relaunch their careers and do more meaningful work. As a public speaker, career consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch® podcast, he shares insights from his decade of experience relaunching global consumer brands to help professionals to more effectively market their personal brands.

About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu helps aspiring professionals relaunch their careers to do work that matters. As a keynote speaker, career & personal branding consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast, his passion is helping people gain the clarity, confidence, and courage to pursue truly meaningful careers. Having gone through three major career changes himself, he now shares insights from building & relaunching global consumer brands to empower professionals and business owners to build & relaunch their personal brands.