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Day One of the Next Chapter

Tuesday was my last day of work at Enterprise Bank & Trust but rather than think about it that way, I’m working to think about it as the first day of my next chapter. The latter gives me hope and makes me think of possibility while the former makes me feel like I did something wrong. This will be my fourth stint of involuntary job transitioning. The first was in 2006 when I left a temporary job with KV Pharmaceutical to work for the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC). I had received an offer from from SLDC but before I began, the offer was rescinded and there I was between jobs.

It took a couple months to find something else and I spent most of that time working for my brother who was running a handyman business. The job that followed was another temporary job in an office park in O’Fallon, MO that was the initial team for BJC’s soon-to-be open hospital Progress West Healthcare. After a year of making great friendships and helping hire and onboard the people necessary to run a hospital, my role shifted and took me into the world of strategic planning, which was impactful to how I have gone on to work and think. For the first time since graduation, I felt like I had direction. After several years in strategic planning, my boss informed me the promotion a colleague and I had both been going for had went her way and I can say with hindsight she was indeed a better fit for it. Not moving up in the company came with the not so subtle signal that I should begin looking for something else. It wasn’t too long before I found myself out of work again. Coincidentally, within weeks of this stint beginning, my girlfriend at the time was offered a job in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and we decided to take the plunge. Before that could happen, I navigated months of side-hustles and under-employment in the US.

Had I not been without steady work at the time, I have wondered if I ever would have pushed back on moving. If that might have been the case, I’m grateful because the chapter in Malaysia was thrilling and taught me a lot about ways in which the world worked and landed a job there, which showed me office culture and politics on the other side of the world. It was interesting and valuable to see what was different and the same. When the Malaysia chapter came to a close, I began a transition back to the US, uncertain of what was next. My outlook on the world had shifted and felt uncertain about what I wanted to do. This chapter would prove the most stressful of the three stints. From December of 2011 until May of 2013, work was hard to come by. My financial reserves dropped to uncomfortably low levels and my ego took a heavy blow. Being unemployed for that long gets to you. It makes you question your self-worth and its hard to not compare yourself against others who are all plodding along with their lives, buying cars, houses, taking trips and dining out while you worry about paying for health insurance and if you can afford to take the nice girl you just met out on a date. And who dates unemployed people anyway?!

There are two good things that came from that chapter of unemployment. A level of resilience was instilled in me. There were times when it felt like my world would end due to shame. I couldn’t bare to think of myself as unemployed anymore and yet every day as the sun set and rose again, I carried on. The second thing was an intense period of learning and practice. To search for what was next I became diligent about taking in new ideas and deepening my knowledge on certain areas. I then encountered something I became a go-to-person for, the Business Model Canvas. I studied it, practiced it and showcased it. Later, it helped me land the job that would break that streak and I had a boss who saw value in it and granted me the permission and space to use it.

My step into the nonprofit and entrepreneurship worlds in May of 2013 has impacted my beliefs and strengthened my capabilities. I found community, energy and an even greater zeal for my city. From there I took a step I am still surprised by and grateful for. I took a chance with a bold bank CEO to engage in an open-ended journey to help him figure out what might be next for his bank with respect to startups and innovation. That job taught me the importance of patience and vision. When Eagle would go on to be acquired by Enterprise, I would again have the opportunity to learn and grow.

The marketing role I was handed taught me about building structure around the belief I already held that the customer comes first. I learned rigor and was challenged relentlessly to improve my writing and how I approached things. To ask before starting a project: What is the purpose of this initiative or piece of collateral? How it will help further assist or educate the client? It took me back to strategic planning and also gave me the opportunity to sit in on an innovation team from a corporate perspective. To work with a team tasked to innovate from within a framework rather than from all angles and at the end of the day, constraints are what breeds innovation.

All of these experiences are a part of who I am as I sit here 48 hours into my next chapter, destination unknown. I do not know what lies ahead but I am fortunate to have had so many teachers and experiences to prepare me for this moment.

There is only one thing left to do. Go Forth Boldly.

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire”, Ferdinand Foch

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