For most of my career, I have been a die-hard marketer. Spanning the country from Richmond to New Jersey to Boston to Seattle to Boise, I worked for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups. After a long stint corporate America, I fell in love with entrepreneurial life and running my own business. Along the way, I learned some amazing things and worked with terrific people who I will always treasure.
Approaching the 50-yard line of life, however, results in much career contemplation. Despite my love for marketing research and strategy, and the intellectual challenges involved with such work, I knew I wanted more.
I was pre-med in college, majoring in Nutrition, and I wanted to return to these roots and integrate health into my work life (without going to medical school). Ideally, I wanted to combine the expertise I had acquired over the years with skills that come naturally – and use these in a capacity that would help others live healthier lives.
That was the goal, at least, three years ago when I embarked on this journey. I simply didn’t know where to start.
I volunteered for some great organizations, including Girls on the Run and Let’s Move Boise. I wrote three books about wellness and continue to maintain a healthy living blog. However, despite my love for writing, I haven’t mastered the art of making money at it! More importantly, I am an “E” on the Myers Briggs scale, so typing on a computer all day doesn’t quite fulfill my need to interact with people.
The near three-year journey had its share of ups and downs, joys and frustrations, doors opened and shut. To be honest, the no’s outweighed the yes’s more times than not. I had many naysayers who thought I was crazy to leave a lucrative career behind. After all, I wasn’t exactly raking in the dough during this transition! But that’s fodder for another book.
Then one day early this year, I met with the VP of Marketing at Blue Cross of Idaho, someone I’d met years ago but hadn’t seen since, along the Foundation’s manager. They shared me with their idea for developing a grant program to fight children’s obesity in Idaho communities. At the time, they said, “Though we’re in the early planning phase, but we might need some help managing the program.”
My eyes lit up and my insides were dancing around. I had a number of thoughts. One – What a noble idea, to create healthier communities and help children! Two – Wow, could I possibly be part of this initiative? And three – What are the chances they’ll actually hire me for this amazing opportunity?
Well, as luck would have it, they did pick me. And I’m grateful every day for this career opportunity that doesn’t actually feel like work. Maybe I have watched too many Oprah episodes over the years, but persevering through the trials and triumphs and pursuing one’s passion does pay off!
The High Five Children’s Health Collaborative just awarded four cities – Kuna, Nampa, Middleton and Lapwai, Idaho – and now the real work begins. With one out of three children in the state currently obese, we’ve got our work cut out for us. With the help of the Blue Cross Foundation and passionate people in each city, I am confident we can reverse this unhealthy trend.
I am grateful to help drive this initiative and happy that my career reversal fulfills a passion – both old and new.