I started out in the corporate world – completely excited – I was one of those lucky ones that had a job lined while I was in my last year of college – and I thought that I would retire from the company that I was hired to work for.
I advanced up that corporate ladder very quickly – probably quicker than I really should have. I got to a point in my career after about ten years, and really believed in what the company was doing, was leading a team at various times of between 250 to 300 people, traveling all the time, and consulting with Fortune 50 clients. For a long time that company was a really good space for me.
So it wasn’t always horrible. But I shifted at the same time as the company shifted, and the shifts didn’t match. In 2001 I had my son. He was probably the biggest blessing I could have had. I learned early on that my company didn’t have a glass ceiling for women – but they did have a glass ceiling for mothers. And my son was very carefully project-planned. I wanted to make sure that I had made it to a certain position in the firm before I had a child because I knew that I may not get any advances after that.
At the same time that I had my son, the company that was a privately held LLC, decided to go public. With that shift came shareholders and influencers that did not have the same values that the original founders of the company had. I ended up in a position where I was asked to do a number of things that, where they were not illegal, were directly on my ethical border. I was responsible for a lot of people and a lot times I was being asked to do things that impacted them directly, and that just didn’t match with who I was.
I was getting physically ill with the choices that I was needing to make at the time. I am the world’s worst political player and in the original company I didn’t have to play politics – I could be the straight shooter that I am. All of that changed with the company going public – the leadership shifted – and it just added to the toxicity of being in that place.
One evening when my son was about a year old, I was sitting there, rocking him back and forth, thinking about the things I wanted to teach him, and it suddenly hit me – if I stayed in the company, doing what I was doing, feeling what I was feeling, I would be teaching my son to sell himself. Because, at that point the only reason I was staying was for the benefits and the paycheck – and they were really, really good! But I realized in that moment that it was not the message of living in your purpose that I wanted to bring to him.
My husband and I had a heart to heart discussion and we decided that it was time to make a shift. But I’d done other people’s things for so long, if I was going to do something for myself what would that be? Most people would say to have something in place before you walk away – and that’s the right advice. I barely proved concept when I made the move. But mine was a very particular and difficult situation.
In the end, both my husband and I ended up quitting our jobs and moving two and half hours south to be closer to my parents where we would have more family support, and where the cost of living was significantly less and where we could live off one income if necessary. Fortunately, my husband’s company liked and valued him enough that they allowed him to transition to an office near to where we moved, and we were able to manage on his salary while I built up my business.
The lesson I would pass on to anyone thinking about starting their own business is really think about what you want. A lot of people start businesses based on what they think they SHOULD do, rather than spend the time thinking about what kind of life do I want to build and whether this business model supports it. Because there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways you can set up your business to support you. So why not set up your business in a way that is going to support all of you, rather than just the paycheck side of you.
Favorite book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Caldini
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.
Favorite Resource: Infusionsoft
Guest: Stephanie Calahan – Calahan Solutions, Inc.
[And for some awesome business resources, here is my resource page ]
Known for the fast transformations that she brings to her clients, Stephanie Calahan works with busy, purpose-driven entrepreneurs, coaches, health practitioners, and all sorts of remarkable service professionals who are experts in their field, to help them leverage their business and get their message out with power, ease and joy; so that they can make a powerfully positive difference in the world, exponentially grow their profits and boldly build a meaningful business around who they are.
With Stephanie’s unique combination of right-brained and left-brained thinking, passion, intuitive insight, results-based coaching and kick-butt systematizing magic, in record time her clients dance with joy as their visions become reality in their business.
After risking personal health and happiness as a high-achieving executive and jet-lagged consultant in Corporate America, Stephanie vowed to not only create a life of REAL freedom for herself and her family but also teach fellow entrepreneurs how to do the same.
She believes that life is meant to be lived and that fabulous vision combined with practical systems can make that happen very quickly. She loves her roles as dedicated wife, energetic and involved mom, community volunteer, sought-after transformational speaker, mentor, producer and trainer. She lives in Illinois USA with her husband, son and very rambunctious Havanese dog.
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