Follow Up: Quitting My Corporate Career

Hi. It's Sarah. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Pete's wife, the other half of Pete's Paleo.

Pete suggested I write a follow up to my blog post about quitting my corporate career in advertising to become full time Pete's Paleo. (In case you're curious, here, here and here are a few other of my blog posts where I may or may not reveal too much about myself on the inter webs). I liked his suggestion because it truly highlights the good, the bad and the ugly. But because I like to end on a high note, let's visit them in reverse. So, here we go.

The Ugly

Being an entrepreneur can be incredibly lonely. I'm sure many other entrepreneurs can relate to this statement (the drive to succeed and constantly improve and create and be better and be the best can all be very isolating). Mine might be because of slightly different reasons, but still relatable. I began the first 10 years of my career in NYC. In a city where any outgoing, gregarious person would feel like a small fish in a big pond, my social circles always developed through work. You spend countless hours with people who are interested in similar topics as you, you tend to develop some close friends. And their friends are similar to them, so they quickly become friends of yours as well. And so the circles grow. Work had always been the center of my life, second to my social life, which as we established was filled with several co-workers from over the years. In 2010, I moved to Atlanta to continue my career in advertising at JWT. While it was a big move (we can talk about how leaving NYC after a decade can be somewhat jarring to a person), I was able to quickly fill in my social life with, you guessed it, friends from work and their friends, and so on. My social network to this day is a veritable six degrees of Kevin Bacon of my past coworkers. Fast forward a few months, I meet Pete, I take another promotion with JWT, we get engaged and move to San Diego, within a year and a half of my move from NYC. Here comes the loneliness. While I was still connected to JWT and my coworkers, I was working from a satellite office, basically my kitchen table. So I'm in a new city again but without the built in social network. And then we decided to start Pete's Paleo and eventually I was able to quit my career and help grow our new family business. And at first I poured in everything I had to the company. Working too late into the night for Pete's liking. Remember, work had always been at the center of my life, so it wasn't a big deal to me. But because I had no automatic group of friends, I didn't have that social outlet. And I became more involved with work, and less involved with finding and making new friends. Now, 4 years later, I'm still in the same city but the work craziness has died down. I have a one and half year old daughter. Pete's Paleo is in a great place and I'm not needed on a daily basis like before. It's me time right? But what do I do? Most of my friends out here have day jobs. I have a few entrepreneur friends but they are busy working on their own companies. I need a hobby. I used to work, work out and go out. Life is different now and my next goal is to work on me, which I believe in turn will help out with that loneliness.

The Bad

I'm no longer a cog in an extremely large wheel. Yes, that is an amazing feeling. I'm my own boss, well except for Pete, and I determine the direction of the projects that I take on - I mainly run our website, e-commerce, marketing, social media, packaging, sponsorships and relationships, and shipping logistics. But just because I came from a background in advertising doesn't mean that automatically translates into a successful go at applying those skills to my own company. Truthfully, not a lot carries over. And the things I miss about being a part of that large wheel are all the other people with a plethora of other talents to help keep that wheel rolling. Like IT (you can only try rebooting so many times) or the Content Team (truthfully Pete and I dodge the blog post bullet constantly - we aren't bloggers!) or the Development Team (it's incredibly frustrating to have to always hire contractors to fix our web issues and wait in line amongst their other clients) and on and on. Ok, the upside. I've taught myself more than I'd ever thought I'd even want to take on. It's inspiring to look back on how much I've learned. And I want to learn more. I need to learn more. In order to keep pushing Pete's up the hill, I need to learn and scale and improve. It's a challenge but it's growth. And that's refreshing.

The Good

There's almost too much that I don't even know where to begin or how to capture it all into words. So much good that the ugly and bad barely matter. Else, I'd have quit. I think first and foremost is that we made something out of nothing. We didn't, and still don't, have investors. We built Pete's Paleo from the leftover money of our wedding fund. We started with 1 client out of our Ocean Beach cottage kitchen while waiting on our sales permit and insurance to kick in so that we could rent space in a commissary kitchen. We now employ a bunch of folks, feed people all over the country and support local farmers and ranchers pushing the farm to table movement forward. We've challenged ourselves and met the calling. We've accomplished things that a few years back I would have never thought for myself. We're setting an example for our daughter of what the American Dream is all about. This feels like the shortest section, but believe me, it's the biggest in my heart. It's just hard for me to express. Above all, I'm incredibly proud of my husband and blown away by how much he's done for our little company that could and in turn our family. If you're actually still reading this, thank you. And I'd like to say the same thing now as I did to you when I first quit my job, because I still believe it to be true (thank goodness): Follow your instincts and create something for yourself. Let that fear of instability drive you to succeed.
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