I’ve always been fascinated by history. Antiques or historical stories or places where history was made never cease to interest me. When I was in my early teens I read books like ‘Andersonville’ or Decisive Battles of the Civil War.’ I knew that it was important to understand the specifics of why and how something happened, was built or came to pass away.
For me, it’s about the backstory, behind the scenes.
I graduated from college with a degree in history. I was sure that I would get involved in historic preservation or museum curatorship. But, as you may also have experienced, life ‘intervened’ and I instead found myself in New York City putting my husband through law school, and working as a risk management analyst looking into insurance claim histories and trends. And, oh, yes, implementing the firm’s first office automation system for the company. (How I went from claims to automation systems is a very interesting but long story, but if you want to know, just ask me. Glad to tell it!)
The international insurance brokerage house I worked for was sure different than that historical property or museum in which I envisioned wiling away my professional days!
But, really, was it so different if I thought about my core interest?
No, not really.
I was still finding out the ‘why’ and the ‘how’, putting the pieces together to understand the full picture.
After this first job, my career path careened toward technology and analysis work, and my career resembled that proverbial snowball, i.e. it picked up more and more momentum with incredible opportunities based in technology. Before I realized what course I had set myself upon, I was climbing the corporate ranks and ultimately found myself as a technology executive at the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and Nasdaq.
I worked at NASD and Nasdaq for 11 incredible years during the ‘90s and the .dotcom era. I had a hand in setting up support departments, implementing nationwide systems and network infrastructures, researching new technologies like the Blackberry (yep, this was new technology at one point in time!), and introducing the company to internet technologies (yes, like the Blackberry, at one point not too long ago the Internet was considered ‘new’ technology!).
Still finding out how to find the solutions to make things work, to make things come together.
It was a pretty heady time with demanding management goals, multiple priorities, long hours and lots of travel. As is usually the case when we find ourselves riding an incredible high, there’s another side to go down.
The .dotcom era went bust, companies sought to outsource significant groups of technology staff, and, well, for me, major illness finally melted that snowball I had been riding along on for years.
Serious illness makes you consider what you have done in your life or what you are doing with it. So, it was with me. I needed to find work that would allow me to approach the job in a less frenzied, more controlled manner, and to balance my work life with my personal life. I was at a crossroad, asking “what do I do?”
I decided to try my hand at something new, something that I had always shied away from – consulting. For the next 5 years, I worked as regional practice manager for a Washington, DC technology consultancy, and as a strategic and organizational development consultant for a small consultant firm that specialized in working with non-profits. I was able to work with government agencies, large non-profits, and industry associations throughout the U.S.
I loved working with different clients in different places and industries because there was always something new to learn and piece together in order to address the clients’ needs.
I especially liked the strategic discussions and planning that focused on how to wed the clients’ business goals, both short and long term, to the technology required in order to achieve the desired goals.
But something was missing. Oh, yes, seeing my work actually getting implemented. Not. All too often, the proposals and recommendations were not ultimately funded or succumbed to internal client politics or agendas or were offered to another firm to get done.
I wanted to know that my work would matter, that what I recommended and presented to the client was going to get done, and that I could be there to help get it done.
I was at a crossroad in my career – again.
I started looking for my next employment opportunity. But this time I didn’t feel the “pull” to contact colleagues and recruiters to start that job search. I needed time to think, really ponder, what was next. I considered staying home, going back to school, and, finally, returning to the corporate world. But nothing seemed to get me out of my chair and take action.
But then two things happened. I read an article about virtual assistance and I was contacted by my state to participate in a program geared to people interested in starting a small business. Now I was out of my chair! I have always been involved in finding solutions, providing support and making things happen. I had, quite unexpectedly, the opportunity to start my own business and to be the person to shape and mold what services I would provide, how I would offer them and to whom.
I would partner with my clients and see tangible results because they wanted to make things happen. And I could do this with clients near and far because the internet made virtual work very practical.
I became an entrepreneur, a small business owner.
I had no experience as a business owner but I researched, took a course, learned what technologies were suited to my new client base, and in the years since I’ve been in business, I’ve worked with clients in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. They have included a financial services non-profit, media products manufacturer, software reseller, author and speaker, academic, communications coach, internet start-up coach, business leadership coach, and several life transformation coaches.
I have learned that I have a purpose. I like making a difference and seeing change. I lead entrepreneurs, who have recognized the need to seek assistance, on a course to meet increasing client or customer needs, take their business “to the next level” or in a new direction, follow a passion, or establish and maintain a healthy balance between personal and business activities or needs. I create more space and time for my clients so that working together we can realize the change they desire or need that they must address.
For me, it still is about putting the pieces together – but now I do it with YOU.
And, yes, I LOVE jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles and any mystery that I have a good shot at solving!