Taking the Leap: Why I Took a Career Risk (And You Should Too)
To kick off 2018, I took a giant leap and accepted a fully remote position in a role I’d essentially never done before (not in any official capacity, anyway).
I would soon be the Director of Audience Engagement and Community at IMPACT. As someone who had always had the word “marketing” in my title in some way, this was a big shift.
As I packed up my desk at my old job, I got a little scared.
Sure, it was exciting to think about working from home (I’d never have to wear pants again, right?) and to join this team of people I already loved, but what if working there was dramatically different than meeting up with the team at conferences and chatting on Facebook?
My Journey to IMPACT
I’m not sure exactly when it happened. Whether it was through watching episodes of The IMPACT Show, attending IMPACT Live, meeting up at INBOUND, or just being an avid consumer of IMPACT’s helpful content and resources, I loved IMPACT.
The people, the content, the mission, all of it.
That alone was something special and it really did draw me in.
So, why didn’t I immediately jump at the chance to join the team?
Well, it’s worth noting that I did not apply for this job.
I wasn’t even looking for anything new at the time. Like many, I got the occasional LinkedIn request from a recruiter or heard a casual mention of an open position at a networking event. However, the only person who actively recruited me, month after month, was IMPACT’s Founder & CEO, Bob Ruffolo.
Even before this position had a job title or description, Bob began recruiting me.
For almost a year, every time I ran into him (or eventually any member of the IMPACT team), I got a friendly nudge accompanied by the question “so, when are you joining the team?”
Now, this may not be traditional but Bob knew the specific set of skills he wanted to add to his team and strongly believed I had them.
Eventually, seeing his unyielding pursuit of me joining the team made me start to take the idea more seriously. Still, I remember thinking “he knows I can do more than Twitter, right?” In fact, I think I said that out loud to him at one point.
As Bob and I started to talk more seriously about the role, however, we nailed down a couple of things that made me less apprehensive about taking the job. Things like what my title would be and how I would be measured in my role. It was important to me that these things were clearly defined and documented.
After all our discussion, taking this job would still mean leaving one I loved, leaving a team I loved working with, and no longer coming into an office full of familiar faces every day. Plus, I was part of a startup that tripled in size in the year and a half since I’d joined and it was a really exciting time for us.
Why would I leave now?
When it came time to make a decision I asked myself the following three questions. When the answers were all “yes” I knew it was the right thing to do -- and if faced with a similar situation, I think the same would be true for you.
- Will this opportunity challenge me and help me grow?
- Am I surrounding myself with people who will make me better
- Am I following my passion and being true to myself?
Will This Opportunity Challenge Me and Help Me Grow?
I am a naturally curious person. I am always asking “why?” and I’m the first person to Google something on my phone when any random question comes up in conversation.
I like learning things.
A lot of people refer to themselves as “lifelong learners” and sure, that sounds great on the surface, but in my experience, just having the desire to learn isn’t enough. You have to apply what you’ve learned to a real life situation.
I used to brag about all the HubSpot Academy certifications I’d gotten or all the business books I’d recently read. What I found is that none of that mattered much if I couldn’t translate it into real, tangible knowledge I could put to use.
Now, it’s not about how much educational content I can consume, but rather how well I can put what I learn into practice.
One of the things that intrigued me about this position at IMPACT was that it would open me up to a whole new set of challenges, things to learn and skills to refine.
I’d never truly led a community before.
I’d been leading the Chicago HubSpot User Group for about a year and was loving it so far, but my job was still mainly focused on emails, landing pages, blogs, and webinars.
To be successful in my role at IMPACT, I would have to dive into learning about growing and engaging a community, reach out to others I saw doing it well and learn from them, and try new things that very well might not work.
It was scary to think about how many new things I’d be doing but also exciting to think about the new set of challenges ahead.
Am I surrounding myself with people who will make me better?
The second question I asked myself when considering joining the IMPACT team was “am I surrounding myself with people who will make me better?”
When I was growing up one of the best pieces phrases my mom would always remind me of was “you are the company you keep.” This mantra has come in handy many times throughout my life including in this decision.
When it comes to a job I always consider the culture of the company.
Sure a great role with good pay is important, but is it more important than the type of people you’ll be spending most of your waking hours with?
In any situation, work or personal, I ask myself “are these people who share my values?”
Joining a company where I was a good culture fit for the company and they were a good culture fit for me has always been a key part of my decision of whether or not to take a job.
Beyond just a good culture fit, I wanted to be sure there would also be people who I could look up to; people who would challenge me to grow and who could be mentors to me over time.
Of course, when it came to IMPACT, I knew the culture was great, but Bob had also been building this amazing team of many of the best people in the industry. Once I saw that, I knew I had to be part of it.
Am I following my passion and being true to myself?
The final question I asked myself was “am I following my passion and being true to myself?”
When it comes to personal values, the one thing I am unwilling to compromise on is authenticity.
I refuse to change anything about who I am to make someone else happy. That’s, of course, not to say I can’t grow and improve, but my core personality will always remain the same.
I’m always surprised when people I’ve only interacted with online meet me in person and say something like “I feel like I already know you!”
To me, that’s how it should feel.
Consistent authenticity has helped me to develop some great relationships in the industry and connect with some amazing individuals.
In fact, that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m in this role today. I love inbound and I love connecting with people and building relationships.
While it was scary to think about doing something quite different than I was used to, accepting this job allowed me to truly embrace these qualities and be 100% true to myself and my passions.
The Feeling of Flying
I recently saw the movie The Greatest Showman (okay, I saw it 3 times) and as I repeatedly listened to the soundtrack I couldn’t help but connect with it more and more.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I can tell you a few key things that stood out to me.
First, it’s all about authenticity and being your true self.
Second, it’s dazzling and captivating.
Third, it’s about taking risks.
While working at a desk may be very different from flying on a trapeze ala Zendaya in The Greatest Showman, taking this job at IMPACT felt like taking a leap.
Why did I take the leap? When I gave my notice my boss actually put it really well. He said “I know your passion isn’t in food data and transparency. In fact, I wish I were as passionate about anything as you are about inbound.”
By time I accepted the job it was very clear that Bob had figured out something before I had - he figured out how my passion for inbound, learning, and building relationships could be channeled into something beneficial for both me personally, and for IMPACT.
At one point during our discussions, Bob said that he wants me to be able to do all things that I currently do in my spare time - and make them my job.
And wow, let me tell you that is what everyone should strive for!
There’s a song in The Greatest Showman called “Come Alive” which is about breaking out of your typical day to day, taking the risk to come out into the light and be part of a movement.
That’s exactly how coming to IMPACT has made me feel.
I feel like I’ve come alive.
I took the leap and it has been exhilarating.
In my new role, I want to transfer that feeling to every member of IMPACT Elite, every attendee of IMPACT Live, every person who finds our content just like I did.
I want you all to know you can break away from the legacy ways of marketing, sales, customer success, or running a business. Through this community, you too can come alive.
Last week when I was visiting the IMPACT office in Connecticut, I recorded three videos, did two sets of headshots, wrote my first Elite update email, and even co-hosted The IMPACT Show with Bob.
It’s all been so fun and such a natural fit for me.
My official title may be Director of Audience Engagement and Community, but if I’ve learned anything in my first two weeks here, my role is just about being the best Stephanie I can be. My authentic, curious, passionate self.
Hopefully, next time you’re considering a new opportunity of any kind, whether it be in your career or personal life, asking yourself these questions will help you decide whether or not to take the leap.
P.S. I do still put on pants. I’m much more productive that way.
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About Stephanie Casstevens
Stephanie is the Director of Audience Engagement & Community at IMPACT and absolutely loves connecting with people and building relationships. She has been using HubSpot for 6 years across a variety of industries on the client and agency side. She is also a co-leader of the Chicago HubSpot User Group. Stephanie is a Carthage College graduate with a B.A. in Public Relations and German. She also owns a highly coveted HubSpot bicycle! You can catch Stephanie co-hosting IMPACT's weekly Facebook live show or engaging with our community in Elite. Outside of IMPACT, Stephanie loves photographing weddings, trying new restaurants and taking her dog, Penny, to the park.