What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

Eight years in the workforce and yet I still ask myself this question.  The average kid responds to this question with something along the lines of “teacher,” “doctor,” “nurse,” “president,” or “lawyer.” I was similar to my peers, but changed my mind rather often. Each kid in my family was given the wonderful My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss. I filled out every single page in that book – from the number of stairs in the house to the self portrait. The page that had the most on-going attention was definitely the career page. Every few years I would write down a career and scratch out the previous one. This is a collection of my scribbles:

  • Mother (age 6)
  • Nurse (age 8)
  • Singer (age 12)
  • Model (age 13)
  • Agent (age 15)
  • Music Venue Owner (Age 17)

I could not make up my mind as a kid, and now it is even harder because I have tried on a few different kinds of jobs. Why do we have to be just one thing? In church, my pastor told me  that God was 3 different people in one – the father, the son and the holy ghost. And look at Richard Branson‘s career. He has put his hands in several different industries since the 70s – music, airlines, mobile phones, clubs, birth control, sports, beverages, healthcare, and banking (I’m sure I missed something).

Branson’s list of seemingly unrelated products and services all have one common thread – Life is an Adventure. Every endeavor has captured Branson’s “live life as an adventure” energy. This is his driving force. Instead of trying to figure out what I am supposed to be, maybe I should take a step back and consider what my driving force is.

When you are happiest at work or coming up with a new idea that excites you, where did that energy come from? Why did that particular idea make you so happy or excited?

Life is an Adventure, Live it

Life Is An Adventure. Let’s Play

The Story of My Journey…So far

When I look back at my journey thus far I realize that there is a recurring theme – the weight of relationships. From childhood through college, and especially in adulthood, I have felt the impact of friendships, coworker relationships and even romantic relationships more than anything else going on in my life.

Growing Up

Going back to elementary school I remember the most difficult transition being all about my friends. The county changed the district lines for the elementary schools, so after third grade my brother and I had to switch from our “down to earth” middle class school to the new money middle class school. Having an awesome mom helped the process. She reminded me that I knew a few kids at my new school from preschool and kindergarten. However, she couldn’t protect me from the bullying and typical “new kid” issues everyone faces. It was so important for me to fit in and be accepted.  But Why?

By high school I had found a home among the nerdy outcasts. We were a powerful mixture of the smart kids, theatre geeks, musicians, and other creative types – Creative Outcasts. While some kids hated high school, I thrived. Everyday I was surrounded by people – asking questions, sharing stories, practicing music. It didn’t really matter, as long as we shared positive interactions.

Even the huge shift into college was centered around the relationships I made. Though my freshman year roommate and I were nothing alike, I adapted to her styles so that we could bond. While that sounds conformist and boring, I learned a lot from her. I had never met a vegan before or someone from a charter school or an animal activist. She brought out good things in me and the others around her. Eventually, I moved forward and found similar women. We founded the Pi Beta chapter of Delta Zeta sorority. Yes, that also sounds conformist; but at the time it was rebellious and revolutionary. We were in a small university with too many sororities already. Rather than going through rush and pretending to fit in, we made our own unique community of like-minded women. No hazing or cattiness. We were powerful women trying to improve campus and build ourselves into tomorrow’s leaders.

Adulthood

My work of choice has been in the arts – modern art museum, Broadway shows, music halls, and now my current business plan. As I reflect on my roles in these businesses I realize two things:

  • The arts inherently brings with it a strong community
  • Marketing is 90% about connecting with other people and engagement

Where do I go next?

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For your entertainment…this video is a peek into the world of my Creative Outcast friends as we produced Fiddler on the Roof. It was the first show of many. I’m the girl in a red shirt painting set in the opening shot.

Strategic Alliances for Your Business

My energy comes from other people, so the connections I make around my business are highly important. One often thinks of strategic alliances as a tool of manipulation. It assumes that we align ourselves or businesses with certain people purely for tools or power. I treat strategic alliances as deeper relationships that need to fit with both my core values and my professional goals.

At each point of developing a business, you need different things.

  • Beginnings: on-boarding strangers to understand and get excited about your idea. These people’s tools only matter to a small extent, because the excitement behind them is more important
  • Established: the people you align with your business begin to fill needs. You may need to find a CPA or a lawyer who has interest in what you are doing
  • Growing: you need to admit that there are some things you cannot do yourself. It is time to trust someone who is an expert in that area, and invite him or her into your circle of strategic alliances

Throughout all of these processes, we must keep in mind the key element that can easily break the connection made – trust. There is a world of difference between the person who is great at his job, shares an interest and passion for your business, and has mutual trust with you; and the person who is the best in his industry, sort of understands what the driver is behind your business and is questionably trusted.

strategic alliances