Through school, I found it a challenge to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. During college, the thing I wanted to be was 'an expert at something'. Later, I discovered that I really enjoyed digital media. I spent all of my spare time making little websites in Microsoft Frontpage and teaching myself how to design a great website.
In June 2008, after my daughter was born, I quit my full time job. I was fed up of working within someone else's belief system and second guessing where I could add value. I knew I could offer more, and on my terms. I had, by chance, landed a freelance web design project (somehow!), that would keep me afloat for three months. I thought I was set, that this was it. Those three months turned into four years of freelancing, with many more clients, only ending after learning too late some critical lessons: Cashflow being one of them!
I learnt a lot in that time. I remember being the happiest I've ever been and since leaving the world of independent work, I've been wanting to get back to it. The closest opportunity I've had since then was in 2018, when I asked to create a new department within an established design agency, focused on design sprints. It was niche, it was exciting and it was generating revenue! With a new found sense of autonomy, I was able to execute all that I had learnt from Gary Vaynerchuk, Jake Knapp and Google. With a 2-year profit making streak, I ended up quitting once more, this time owing to burnout through the COVID-19 epidemic, and having mistakenly positioned myself in a new team that didn't align with my zone of genius:
- What you enjoy
- What you are good at
- What the world needs
In the first 5-10 years of my career, it took me a long time to call myself a designer. I was almost embarrassed to call myself that! I've been mostly self-taught, through reading, watching YouTube and executing what I'd learnt. The same was true as I moved into facilitating workshops. That was finally validated through invites to run workshops at Google's Sprint conference, and a call from the CEO of Mural, who told me that I was one of the top 11 facilitators in the world (a point which to this day, I'm still blown away by!).
Two weeks ago, I called my employer to say that I was leaving. I'd achieved my goal of becoming a Managing Director, having graduated from running a design department to leading a whole business. Problem was, I wasn't happy and I was missing a key ingredient from my life: Creating something for myself.
I could see that history was repeating. If things stayed as they were, I would take the next job, followed by the next, and would move further away from what I truly wanted. I had to break the cycle. Fortunately, my family are in full support and that is just the best feeling.
If you have, in any way, been part of my journey so far; a huge thank you. I don’t yet know what the future will hold, but I know it’s going to be great. Follow along, and I'll share it all with you.