My career has been a wild ride of my own making. In the beginning, I took the safe route because ”they said” it was the smart thing to do. But smart isn’t always exciting or challenging or inspiring.
I had my own secret career ideas I wanted to try, even though I knew nothing about them. I was told, “You can’t or shouldn’t do that,” “That’s too hard for a woman,” or ”You don’t have the know-how.” So I did it anyway, extracting all the learning I could.
Here’s my bio in a nutshell: I went from being a high school English teacher to a Fortune 500 energy company senior manager. That took some doing and some time. The real challenge was learning the ropes.
I was a true misfit in that company because I was:
- A woman manager—and there were only two others when I started
- An educator and not an engineer
- An outside hire with no internal relationships
- Inexperienced and unschooled in the industry
I was so naïve about how things operated in a big corporation that I just started to work my way. I learned as I went and was fortunate to have a group of VPs and a boss who were fabulous, generous, and principled men who wanted me to succeed and were willing guides.
What I learned from them was not what you get in training class or at a professional conference. They taught me how to navigate the politics, avoid being blind-sided, protect myself from bait and switch assignments, build a strong brand, and develop great people as a reward to myself, them, and the company.
As I moved around from consumer programs to HR, customer service, and then change management, I realized that what I had accumulated were the skills and insights that would help me successfully influence the positive and skirt the negative. These were the survival skills that come from peeling back what’s on the surface and uncovering the reality below it.
I left the corporate world when the company and I had extracted the best from each other. There were others remaining who could take my place. By that time, I had already stoked my entrepreneurial drive.
As a girl I had dreamed of living on a farm with horses. That dream was not going to come true unless I made it happen by myself. I started taking riding lessons at 30, bought my first horse at 38, then another. I wanted my own place to keep them, so I bought a small farm that needed work but it filled the bill.
In short order, I was breeding thoroughbreds for the racetrack and warmblood sport horses for the show ring. I knew nothing about either industry beforehand and had never seen anything born until I foaled my first thoroughbred alone early one cold, rainy morning. I was fortunate to breed many winners while learning how the complex and often bizarre horse industry works.
In the course of things, I partnered with a friend on an equine art business, mainly because I was a collector and knew nothing about retail sales. I learned a ton about buying, pricing, merchandising, and being a partner. There were plenty of bumps in that road, but it was a fun business for many years.
I had gotten a taste of consulting well before I left my corporate job when I did a freelance job for my small animal veterinarian, something which also got me in two cover stories for Veterinary Economics magazine. That led to a five-year sidelight that I gave up when my corporate management responsibilities got too great.
When it was time for me to leave big business behind, I knew what I wanted to do—coach and consult with individuals and small businesses to help them solve problems and improve performance. So I launched my practice, Big Picture Consulting. Anytime I can pass along what I’ve learned to help someone else feel the satisfactions of success, I’m there.
So now you know why I write this blog and why I wrote Business Fitness—The Power to Succeed—Your Way. I enjoy this wonderful and still sometimes wild career ride and am happy to have you sharing in my discoveries.