I’m on a plane headed home, drinking champagne in those plastic airline cups as a toast to new beginnings. I take this time to enjoy the work I have accomplished so far and to reflect on the decisions that have brought me to this moment.
For the past four years I had been working for a startup pay-per-click (PPC) agency in the Silicon Valley – the epicenter of innovation. I was first hired as a college intern and offered a full-time position upon graduation. I would eventually become the Digital Marketing Manager, overseeing the entire SEO division and later, made Partner. This Agency had become my life. I was devoted to making the business grow and be successful. In the time that I was there, I felt that I had done just that – made a positive impact. It was a secure role, I had benefits, I worked with great people, and I was even getting paid enough to live in the Bay Area, and eat too!
Then I quit.
Despite these excellent conditions I was becoming increasingly unhappy with my role. The nature of a startup is such that things would change rapidly and you needed to adapt to keep up with clients’ needs or learn to deal with a change in direction as a company. Adapting to new situations was something that I enjoyed and even thrived on, but at a point, it lost its allure. The company went through some organizational changes that resulted in me lacking the support of a full-time team. My resources were substantially cut. So, I delegated what I could and managed to do the rest personally.
With these changes, I was unsure of how to move forward and continue business growth. I started to believe that I wasn’t in the right place. For myself and the company. When an outside company expressed interest in buying the SEO division, I decided to quit with no real backup. My lease for my housing had also just ended. So I had no job, no home (in a sense), and no idea of what to do next. You’re probably thinking: “yeah, sounds like the typical millennial,” or “you’re making a mistake, and you’re going to regret that decision for the next 2-20 years.” – Something like that. Maybe you’re right, maybe not, but I made up my mind based on how I felt at the time. I had absolutely nothing against the company itself; I just felt that it was time for a change.
It was a couple of weeks after I made my decision that I received a phone call from Lynda, the founder of Pocket Palette. She had heard that I quit my job and it was right around the time that she decided to go into business for herself with Pocket Palette, a single-use full face makeup kit. She had seen a lot of success pitching her business plan in business competitions with her graduate school, George Washington University, some even hosted by Google. She won awards and cash prizes, and even received offers from investors, giving her more than enough motivation to turn Pocket Palette into a reality.
That’s when I flew to D.C.
I went to D.C. because that’s what you do when presented with an opportunity. You go. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed with excitement and eagerness for the following three reasons: it meant that I had a job, I was in our country’s capital, and I was getting the chance to help build something from the ground up. Lynda wanted to bring me on as a Partner, leveraging my experience in Marketing to help build Pocket Palette’s brand and following.
So, there I was, in D.C. I marveled at all the brick buildings and monuments rich with history. It’s a place that makes you nostalgic for a patriotic past that somehow makes you proud, despite the mistakes that were made along the way, because it reminds you of the people who dared to make a difference. It was hard not to be inspired. There was an obvious saturation of politics everywhere, but the area is also rich with art, music, and great food. I was fully committed to Pocket Palette since the moment I got that phone call and being in D.C. just made the situation all-the-more real for me. Lynda’s enthusiasm for her product was energizing: it was something new and exciting.
But, if I am sincere before Lynda wanted to bring me on I didn’t avidly use makeup and wasn’t all that interested in it. I used to think that if I paid too much attention to makeup, my peers wouldn’t take me seriously. I forfeited the fresh face for my other priorities. So now that I was a part of a cosmetics company, I wanted and needed that to change.
That’s when I got into makeup.
I used makeup almost every day when I was in D.C. – it made me feel refreshed and more lively. It even became fun. So, I admit that I was wrong about my negative perception of makeup. It didn’t take long to recognize that the use of makeup does not equate to your worth (insert clapping hands emoji). I believe that is why I was discouraged from using makeup in the first place. Women, from an early age, have hundreds of interactions with makeup and makeup brands and have ideas of beauty thrown at them on a daily basis. I didn’t want my day-to-day actions focused on appearance, but rather on my actions.
But I quickly found that this also not the true purpose of makeup, like at all! It’s whatever the hell you want it to be. A quick fresh face to prepare you for the day. Or the full face you wear when you go out with friends. Or about the self-love you give yourself after caring for others.
It’s safe to say that I left D.C. with a new appreciation for makeup and myself. I also left with a newfound appreciation for brick buildings, rooftop bars, and boozy brunch. Along the way I learned some fundamental concepts:
Don’t be afraid to leave your hometown.
Your first job out of college most likely won’t be your last.
Understand when it’s time to move on.
Work hard for the things that you want – if you don’t get it, you probably didn’t need it.
View failures or mistakes as lessons.
When faced with big life decisions you can’t ever really know what will happen for sure (obviously). So don’t be afraid of change, especially if it’s out of your comfort zone as you might miss out on some great opportunities.
These few pieces of wisdom are a result of my professional business experience so far. Upon reflection, they may seem obvious, but it isn’t always so when you have to take action. The decisions we make can either lead to our successes or provide lessons. Allow yourself to change direction, take your lessons in stride, use your goals as guidelines rather than absolute principles.
So, now I’ve shared my story, my journey, I want to hear about yours. Reflecting on your professional career, what are some key concepts that you have learned?
Thank you for reading! Have questions for me? Want to chat? Let’s connect!