I’d been CEO of Ogilvy PR for two years, having sold my PR firm into the group. I was feeling stale and wanted a change. But I did not have the courage to quit, fearing a life of selling bananas on street corners if I left my current security for the great unknown. And then a wise man gave me some advice. I quit the next day. This is what he told me. I was reminded of this story while having breakfast recently with a dynamic software and gaming industry leader who recently decided to leave that career and start afresh. He was frenetic in analyzing his recent career, and on what he thought he’d do next. I stopped him after the first coffee. “Focus entirely on the future, but don’t get fixated about having absolute clarity about what you want to do next. Rather, follow this critical piece of advice that was given to me once. It will ensure you make the right decision.”
Relax. What you do next will become apparent.
Have the courage to "make yourself available" to new ideas and opportunity. When you know you need a change, or when it is forced upon you, have confidence that the right opportunity will evolve. Embark on a process of conversations. Have as many conversations as you can, with people in various companies and industries. Talk about your passions. Talk about theirs. Talk about their challenges and business issues. Keep an open mind. Allow yourself the freedom to explore. Have courage that what you do next will become apparent – it will become obvious to you at some point, and it might well not be what you would have expected.
So What Happened To Me?
I quit the next day (gave notice), and started having conversations. One was a casual update on a boat with STW CEO Mike. We knew each other a bit – prior to becoming STW CEO, he had represented (as one of his many STW responsibilities) STW's interest as a minority shareholder in my business and the Ogilvy PR businesses I managed. "You’re leaving Ogilvy hey," he mused. "Perfect! I have a big challenge at STW. I need to evolve STW from being a passive investment holding company into a genuine, value-adding parent company. I need to do it fast, and I need the right partner to help me do it. And now you are suddenly 'available.' Why not join STW as Chief Operating Officer and help me and the team revolutionize this business?" And so it came to pass…. Could I have planned that move or role? Was it even on my radar? No. It just became apparent that that was obviously the right next step and what I was meant to do.
And Here’s A Gem Of A Story – Read This!
An Ogilvy colleague quit to seek fresh pastures. I was having coffee with him the day he announced he was leaving. "What will you do?" I asked. "Not sure," he said. "I am working on clarity around that." So I told him the story of "what you do next will become apparent." I did not see him for five years. We bumped in to each other at the kids' rugby one Saturday morning. "What did you end up doing?" I asked. "I started a business with some partners, and then this evolved to form another business – which is going gang busters." "That’s great," I replied. "What’s it called?" His reply: "You should know that. You told me what it would be called." "Huh?" I replied, perplexed. "What do you mean?" "Well, you told me what I did next would become apparent. So when what I did next evolved into another business, the name was obvious…. " And so it came to pass. Check it out: www.apparent.com.au.
Make The Grass Greener on This Side Of The Fence
One final point. Always, when you feel stale and want a change, try first to make the grass greener on this side of the fence. In other words, are there changes you can make within your role or company that could create the next right step for you? This post originally appeared on Wrestling Possums.