Why I Turned My Back On A Thriving Business
July 31, 2017
Earlier this year I said goodbye to something that mattered a whole heap to me. I bade farewell to a successful career I had worked 18 years to build.
The decision to wind down all long-standing contracts and decline offers to bid on new ones were some of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.
Building my public relations practice, Mango Media Caribbean, was hands down one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. Having the opportunity to mentor young communicators, to employ others, to go from a one-person shop to having thirty employees, to work with global clients and develop strategies that would navigate them through crisis or deepen their understanding of the importance of strategic communications, is a legacy I can look back on and feel extraordinarily proud.
But after 18 years, my career took a turn.
What started out as a passion project, after a friend in Boston sent me a New York Times article on digital story telling, led to a decision to step in front the camera again and share and write stories about the importance of not succumbing to the notion that we (women) became invisible as we aged.
From the very first story, something magical happened. Hundreds of women began sharing their own anecdotes and looked forward to the pieces I filmed and wrote on beauty, success, travel, (with my dear friend. Natalie Augustin), wellness and of course, ageing with grace.
My story was theirs. Theirs was mine.
I realised that there was a need for community, support, and education for women 40 and beyond. Turns out they were on Facebook in droves, digitally savvy enough to tune into a life+style blog (www.forwardforty.com) and that I could reach them both creatively and digitally.
My hours became insanely long as I found new purpose. Each day, after I spent 15 hours at my PR firm, I would come home and with Miguel (my editor) write, film and edit.
Despite the effort, I felt this incredible amount of responsibility and even deeper joy to show up every day and do the very best that I could to share more stories that would build the Forward Forty community. I knew in my heart I had entered into a new season of my life.
Step-by-step I went. I developed a blog. Grew a community. Hired a tiny team of passionate people more wildly creative than I could ever be. I invested time, energy and money without having an idea of how I would make a dime. What kept me energised was the fact that I could use my heart, creativity and mind to impact people in new ways.
I had no idea that Forward Forty would grow into a fledgling brand or that 17 months later I would have a webisode series ready for its first digicast, be elbow deep in developing the world’s first printed social media planner, teaching and delivering talks on story telling, opening a social content studio and working on an array of digital products to be released between 2018-2020.
Saying goodbye to my past comes with a lot of emotion, nostalgia and anticipation for the future. Growing a digital lifestyle brand is not easy. I recognise that I am like a lone woman on a prairie carving a way for others to understand the power of storytelling on brand building and that the very brands and organisations I will stand before have been steadily slow on the uptake.
But change (and risk) is something I wear like a well-worn bra.
In my twenties, before WTF became a hashtag, I quit a perfectly fine job and started the very business I‘m saying goodbye to. I did this without much of anything except drive. In my thirties, I met and married a man who spoke no English and from whom I am now divorced but enjoy a rich and rewarding friendship. It happened in my forties when I took out my entire savings and bought an apartment in another country and later turned it into an investment property.
And it is happening now.
“Does my decision to say goodbye to a thriving PR practice make me afraid now that I am older?” My response to my friends is always: “It is never too late to choose optimism, to decide to do something that your heart longs for and to give it your all.”
The best thing I’ve realised is that it only takes a moment to know when something feels right (maybe after months of thinking) and embrace a new direction in life.