I didn’t leave my safe, well-paid corporate job at P&G to become an entrepreneur. I was under no illusion that it would fulfil the overhyped promises of working from a remote beach whilst sipping cocktails and meditating every morning. Instead, I left to focus full time on the work I love – training and coaching people.
It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I haven’t once looked back.
Today I am looking back to reflect on the big picture – because there are two sides to everything. I cherish my independence, international mobility and the lightning speed of decision making. At the same time, there are some things I miss dearly, which I used to take for granted in my corporate job:
1. Having someone to high-five. I was never moved by the generic “well done team award” shared by 20 other people with varying contributions to the project. What I really miss, however, are the mad high-fives when the market shares came in and we had grown versus last month. I miss the spontaneous high-fives when we finally got the TV copy approved. I miss the “thank god it’s over” high fives after a terrible senior management meeting… In fact I miss all high-fives. High-fives are the best!
2. Being “just” a contributor. In a large company, no matter how senior you are, you are just one cog in the machine. My projects were also many other people’sprojects and sometimes it was hard to tell how meaningful our individual contributions were. It was frustrating when people didn’t share inputs on time and as a result my work was late or incomplete. Now I realize that no matter how slow and painful these large multi-functional projects can be, they are the only way to achieve something much greater than one person alone can ever dream of.
3. The endless back and forth. I had a brilliant idea for a new product claim and I eagerly presented it to my team for quick feedback before going live. Thirteen team discussions, four senior management debates, ten consumer theories, fifteen pages of data and six months later we agreed on the claim ‘version 56 – final – really final’. By that point I had lost all enthusiasm and would even regret making the proposal in the first place. Working by myself, I expected to be liberated from this endless back and forth. The reality is, the back and forth just relocated from a room full of colleagues to a lonely room inside my own head. And now I wish there was someone in that room who cares enough about my work to challenge it.
4. The team heart beat. It was the steady pulse of my team that kept me rolling on the good – and especially on the bad – days. Whenever I took my laptop home to finish a presentation late at night, I would see my teammates were also online, working late. Whilst this didn’t speed up my slides, it made me feel like I’m not alone. As a solopreneur, I have to make a bigger effort to connect with others and keep myself motivated.
5. The spell of the background noise. As a fresh graduate, used to studying in the dead silence of the university library, P&G’s large corporate open-plan office felt like a chaotic beehive. Every click was a distraction. Every whisper was a thought-breaker. Every rustle of a crisps packet was a wish for lunch to come sooner. Today I work in my own silent space. On a sleepy afternoon, I miss looking up from my screen, watching people get on with business and being urged back into productivity.
6. Saying good morning in 4 different languages, the corridor banter, the jokes shouted across cubicles, introducing myself to new people just to get a piece of their birthday cake, bonding over the inevitable breakage of the printer right before top management meetings, hiking up the stairs – where no “ground floorer” had ever ventured – to speak with the legal team face to face…I miss the small things.
7. Reporting to a manager. Shock Horror! How can any self-respecting, independent millennial admit to this? Follow me on LinkedIn to find out the answer in my next blog post.
I left my corporate job in order to focus 100% on my passion for people. And whilst I absolutely love doing just that with my coaching and training, I still miss the buzz of the office and the motivation that comes with teamwork and depending on others. I have uncovered a different side of social interaction at the workplace. Beyond the fun, it challenges me and improves me as a person. And that’s the bigger picture.
Need help seeing the bigger picture? Coaching can help you explore different perspectives and get clarity on what makes you happy. Drop me a line on [email protected] and I’ll get you started with a complementary coaching session.
Follow me here or on LinkedIn for my next posts:
- Why I miss having a manager
- What I got out of my sabbatical – and why you should take one
- How I learnt to let go – the effervescent lightness of being free
Find out more about my story.