The REAL REASON I Leapt Off the Corporate Ladder to Start My Own Business
For close to twenty-five years I climbed the corporate ladder and worked for some of the worlds most recognized global companies; Unisys, General Electric, Manulife Financial, IBM, CIBC, Rogers and Shaw to name a few. I worked my ass off and achieved a level of success many aspire to; nice salary, big house, cottage, cars, boats and ATV’s. Despite my passion for my job, dedication and hard work, I was ‘Right Sized’, ‘North Americanized’, ‘Outsourced’, ‘Passed Over’, even cracked my head on the glass ceiling until I was finally ‘Divested’.
“Never Fall in Love with a Company it Will NEVER Love You Back!”
Seven years ago, while interviewing for a VP role, I was asked by the CFO why I was interested in the job. I told him I loved the company, which I had worked for, for over five years. He then looked at me and said; “Never fall in love with a company, it will never love you back!” I remember thinking at the time how cold that advice felt. Why would I ever want to work for a company I didn’t love? Isn’t that what all those leadership books talk about, how to get employees engaged and really care about the company? Is it all just pointless surveys dreamed up by some HR person? I didn’t believe so. I became a leader of people at the young age of 21 and have strived all my career to be the best I could, reading countless books on leadership while guiding and mentoring people. More than anything, I love being a leader; seeing my team succeed, be promoted, learn something new and watch as the light bulb goes on over their head. It’s so incredible to help people and know I played a role in their success.
“I wasn’t being my authentic self nor living my values.”
In 2013 I reached a turning point and was extremely unhappy. Despite the material trappings of my success I was tired of working for companies that didn’t love me back, the lack of job security, always biting my tongue, leaning out, while reining in my A Type personality, instead of “Leaning In”. I did not get that VP promotion despite the hard work and dedication. I had cracked my head on the glass ceiling time and time again. I had no time for my family, working fifty to sixty hours per week, eating terribly and feeling physically and emotionally drained. When I was home, I was crashed on the couch from exhaustion too tired to spend time with my husband or kids. I was at a breaking point and I had had enough! I wasn’t being my authentic self nor living my values.
“I was risking everything. What was I thinking?”
My marriage and family were struggling, and I was experiencing a very dark time. After much soul searching, I decided, to truly be happy, I knew I could no longer allow others to control my destiny. In what should have been the autumn of my career, I left the security of a well paying, full-time career, cashed in my retirement, sold the cottage, downsized and then launched my own business, ProcurePro Consulting. Launching my own business was and remains the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and I did it at the worst possible time. My husband had just been laid off after 30 years with the same company. Both of my kids were preparing to go off to college and university. I had just completed an expensive reno on my home and my debt and bills were mounting. The anxiety over the decision was through the roof. I was risking everything. What was I thinking? Holding my breath, I leapt off the corporate ladder to pursue my entrepreneurial dream.
For over five years its been a tremendous struggle. I often lay awake at night questioning my sanity, while worrying about where my next client project is coming from, if I can afford to pay my employees, my mortgage and put my kids through school. I am way outside of my comfort zone. The thought of sales and marketing literally paralyzes me, makes my heart pound and my palms sweat. I am terrified of rejection. I’m making all kinds of mistakes, but I am learning.
“I now have time for the really important things in life, my family.”
It has also been the most thrilling and rewarding time of my life. Last summer we celebrated five years since launching ProcurePro Consulting. I work with an amazingly talented team who love what they do and who are doing their best work. They are treated with care and compassion and are the life blood of the company. We are good at what we do, and we have fun doing it. We truly care about our incredible clients and we sincerely want and do help them on their road to success. I am controlling my own destiny and I now have time for the really important things in life, my family.
As I write this article, my father just finished his very last radiation treatment in St. John Hospital in New Brunswick. Three months ago, after two heart attacks, two strokes and skin cancer, at the golden age of 83, he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. Despite this challenging time, I am so grateful that I had the flexibility and time to be with him during his biopsy in November, surgery in December and have been here with him for the last two weeks for his radiation treatments while he battles this horrendous disease. I will never have to regret not being here for him. I can cherish this time with him and be fully present to support him. Without taking that scary leap to open my own business, I would never have had the flexibility and time to spend with him. For this I am eternally grateful. I’m finally living my dream, I’m living my values and being my true authentic self. I’m still scared to death, but I wouldn’t change a thing.