What Should You Be When You Grow Up?
Categories: Brit's Blog

What Should You Be When You Grow Up?

Taylor Swift moved to Nashville when she was 13 to focus on her music career. Michael Jackson was a prodigy at age five. And even Albert Einstein displayed early excitement around becoming a scientist after his dad gave him his first compass as a young boy — apparently, as soon as that happened, he couldn’t stop thinking about magnetic fields and the force they have on the world.

But most of us have no idea what we want to do in life — even in our 20s and 30s! So how come some of the “lucky ones” feel such a strong gravity towards a career at a young age, when the rest of us are stuck with extreme anxiety for decades?

After a few years of thinking through my own journey to what I now consider my “dream job,” I’ve realized that the answer might actually be right in front of you.

Let me explain.

Like the majority of my friends growing up, I changed my mind about what I wanted to do in life every couple of years. At first it was a veterinarian, then an inventor, writer/author, orthopedist, geneticist, broadcast journalist, advertising creative, photographer and nanotechnologist. Now if those careers aren’t all over the board, then I don’t know what is!

Ultimately, by the time I got to college, I settled on the fact that I should go to Silicon Valley and participate in the Internet boom. I figured that would at least lead me somewhere interesting.

To get my feet wet with the tech world, I even started two companies in college: Median Media, a media consulting company that connected tech startups with the college crowd; and FundHole, or as I now like to call it, the original Kickstarter. (Terrible name, I know, but at least the idea was on point… just 5 years too early! Dangit.)

Once I graduated from school, I fast-tracked it to San Francisco to work at places like Apple and Google. And while I loved the tech world (and still do), I still didn’t think I had found my dream job yet. I felt incomplete.

Some of you may have read my story about starting Brit + Co already, but just to paraphrase, it took me a good six months of NOT working to find what I loved to work on. I naturally gravitated towards all the things that interested me most before I realized how they could intertwine to become a business.

And suddenly, it all made sense!

Brit + Co would be a company based on creativity — something I am not only personally passionate about continuously building within myself, but also something I thrive on helping others ignite within themselves.

It would be a media property, and I would not only get to write and edit, but also oversee creative teams like design, photography and video. I would get to tell stories in all kinds of mediums.

I would use all the latest modern technologies to make this a digital media company in order to quickly grow faster than my competition. I’d leverage my inherent understanding of web/mobile, social networks, viral growth, data analytics and more to do so.

One slant on our brand voice would be that we cover innovation — new products and technologies that matter to our core demographic of women.

My early vision was that we would also one day create our own product innovations. It’s something we haven’t done yet, but that I’m still excited about down the road. (Stay tuned!)

And of course, I made the bold and extremely vulnerable decision to use my face and name in the brand. Let it be known that I did NOT choose to do this because I wanted to be some sort of celebrity. It was because I truly felt that today’s brands did not actually connect with their audiences of the Social Media Generation. Having a real, authentic face and name behind a brand means that you are putting your own reputation on the line. It is still sometimes very uncomfortable for me, but I have never regretted adding such humanness and reality to Brit + Co.

Being “the brand” has also meant that I’ve had to learn to become skilled at live TV performances, public speaking, modeling and more.

And finally, when creating Brit + Co, of course I decided that my title would be Founder and CEO. For better or for worse, I would be running this company and would have full responsibility for its success or failure.

Okay, so how does that story relate back to the point of this post — helping you better determine what you should be in life?

If you don’t have the flexibility to take six months off work to see where your natural inclinations lead you, then try looking back at your past.

Here’s the same story synopsis from my thoughts of founding Brit + Co, this time interlaced with proof points from my childhood on why I should have known this was the dream job for me:

Brit + Co would be a company based on creativity — something I am not only personally passionate about continuously building within myself, but also something I thrive on helping others ignite within themselves.

PROOF: I was ALWAYS doing creative projects as a girl — making my own jewelry, making gifts for my friends for every birthday or holiday, decorating for every party or gathering, etc. I had art and photo scrapbooks up on all of the walls in my room and would always ask for new art kits for Christmas each year. I even stole my mom’s sewing machine once and broke a few needles while learning how to use it in order to sew together a ton of Capri Sun pouches into a beach bag.

It would be a media property, and I would not only get to write and edit, but also oversee creative teams like design, photography and video. I would get to tell stories in all kinds of mediums.

PROOF: My mom was (and is still) a court reporter, and because of that, I always was taught perfect writing and grammar skills. I even won the Spelling Bee in fourth grade! Oh, and I LOVED to write. As an eight-year old, my parents let me have a computer in my room which I primarily used to type up short fictional stories. English was my favorite subject.

PROOF #2: I’ve always been overly obsessed with all media. I can literally recite lines from just about any TV show from the ‘90s. I memorized the lyrics to all CDs and tapes I ever had. And at one point, I think I had over 10 magazine subscriptions coming to my house — as an 11-year old, no less! Even today, I can’t get enough content. I’m simply addicted to studying how others tell stories.

I would use all the latest modern technologies to make this a digital media company in order to quickly grow faster than my competition. I’d leverage my inherent understanding of web/mobile, social networks, viral growth, data analytics and more to do so.

PROOF: As a digital native, I was always one of the first in my friend group to adopt the newest technologies. I don’t remember a time without a computer in my room, I had a cell phone by age 12, and I took AP Computer Science in high school. Tech always has, and always will, fascinate me.

One slant on our brand voice would be that we cover innovation — new products and technologies that matter to our core demographic of women.

PROOF: The reason I wanted to be a nanotechnologist at one point in my life was because I read an article about early prototyping of nanotechnology being used as wallpaper — AKA wallpaper that is made up of teeny tiny LEDs that can change colors whenever you want. I thought about how fascinating people would find this for mixing up their home decor and wanted to help make it mainstream. I was always looking for ways to translate complicated technology to make sense for a consumer audience.

My early vision was that we would also one day create our own product innovations. It’s something we haven’t done yet, but that I’m still excited about down the road. (Stay tuned!)

PROOF: See note above about me wanting to be an inventor. :)

And of course, I made the bold and extremely vulnerable decision to use my face and name in the brand. Let it be known that I did NOT choose to do this because I wanted to be some sort of celebrity. It was because I truly felt that today’s brands did not actually connect with their audiences of the Social Media Generation. Having a real, authentic face and name behind a brand means that you are putting your own reputation on the line. It is still sometimes very uncomfortable for me, but I have never regretted adding such humanness and reality to Brit + Co.

Being “the brand” has also meant that I’ve had to learn to become skilled at live TV performances, public speaking, modeling and more.

PROOF: I hate to admit it, but I was (and am) totally that girl who steals the microphone during karaoke night and never gives it back. I get such a rush of adrenaline when I’m in the spotlight and have a lot of fun with it. I love putting on a show — to me, it’s another version of storytelling and entertainment. Couple that with the fact that I’ve always had some weird innate girl crushes on Ellen, Oprah and Katie Couric, and I think it’s obvious why this one makes sense now.

And finally, when creating Brit + Co, of course I decided that my title would be Founder and CEO. For better or for worse, I would be running this company and would have full responsibility for its success or failure.

PROOF: Let’s be honest, this one I probably could have called early on. I always wanted to be a leader. I was the soccer team captain, Student Council President and leader of all kinds of other extracurricular groups.

I have to admit, even writing this post is tough for me. As I’m re-reading it, it sounds like I’m talking so much about myself. But the point I’m trying to make here is that, after looking back at my childhood, there were little clues staring me straight in the face about what I should be doing in life. Making a list of them all prior to starting Brit + Co is what truly drove me over the edge to take the entrepreneurial leap.

So what does this mean FOR YOU?

Maybe I’m naive, but I truly believe that all of us can be happier in life if we are doing a job we really love. Most of the 20 and 30-something year old women I know are chasing jobs that aren’t personally meaningful for them. They are looking for jobs that will pay them well, will look good on a resume or will position them in the midst of an up-and-coming industry.

And while those are all great things to strive for in a job, they mean nothing if you hate your life every day you have to go to work. There’s no point in wasting your time waiting for the perfect job to come to you, so why not do some soul searching through your past to figure out how to go find it instead? I truly believe each of us can be doing a job that not only pays us well, but gives us personal fulfillment on the daily. We were all put on this planet for a reason. Figure out what your reason is — it’s likely right in front of you.

And for those of you who knew exactly what you wanted to be by the time you were 5… you’re a magical unicorn and I hope you know it.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did your career dream end up coming true or change? Tweet me your dream job and if it’s your current one to @brit.