Thoughts on Pivoting and Transformative Change

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about change – specifically, change as it relates to my personal life. It feels like I’ve become a master at change lately. Over the past three years, I have made more major ‘pivots’ in my life than I could have imagined.

When I was 18 years old, I enrolled in College at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I had no idea what I wanted to study, so I figured I would do what I do best – wing it.

I chose the two most difficult majors I could think of in the College of Arts & Sciences that fit two criteria: no physics, and no engineering.

I landed in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

About two years in, I realized “Holy shit, this is not right.” But, I knew I was committed. I’m a finisher, not a quitter. I proceeded to graduate, and worked in research science for a full year following graduation, just to be sure – I had to know if my decision to leave science was right.

Shortly after graduation, I was laid off and lost my lab job. It might have been the best thing to happen to me. I was forced to think about the future, forced to actually consier what I wanted to do, and how.

Around this same time, I began getting interested in starting an online business. My reading and learning ultimately lead me to apply for an internship at an advertising agency.

My first major pivot occurred in July of 2012 when I landed the job at the ad agency. I was moving from a comfort zone behind the benchtop into a world I knew very little about except what I had taught myself.

Within a year of working at that specific advertising agency, I realized something – I wasn’t happy there.

Sure, I was happy with my decision to radically change careers, and I was extremely happy about being in the online marketing space, but I wasn’t happy with where I was working. The company wasn’t a good cultural fit for me, I was not surrounded by the kind of people I wanted to be surrounded by.

Indeed, I was unhappy for entirely different reasons than I thought I would be. I am an achiever, and I was not getting to where I wanted to go in my career fast enough. So what did I do?

I pivoted, and I took a leap of faith.

In November of 2014, I had a business opportunity approach me. It was one I had been trying to cultivate for a while.

I made my first business pitch in front of a room of 70 people, all of whom were more successful than I, and much further along in their careers. I had a captive audience, I figured – “What the heck.”

I got up, and spoke from my heart. I told everyone in that room “I know why your online marketing isn’t working.” Apparently, it worked.

I earned my first client through that pitch, and it panned out in December of 2014. Shortly after closing the deal, another opportunity fell out of the sky.

In a matter of two weeks, I had landed two clients and had negotiated rates that would allow me to quit my day job, and ultimately give myself a raise.

That’s the power of pivoting.

I’m sure the course I’m on won’t last forever – I foresee a number of pivots in my future. For now though, I’m going to enjoy the ride.