By now, you've set resolutions, you're sick of talking about setting resolutions, and you're seeing hundreds of posts about making 2016 "your" year.When we sat down to discuss the direction of The Read for Volume 4, we didn't want to write some generic piece about all the steps to goal setting, because you're probably way past over it. We wanted proof of the possibilities. We also wanted to inspire you to think about January differently - pull yourself out of your holiday-coma and find your spark in a -- quite literally -- dark season. So, we identified four people who have found that spark of motivation and are doing big things: two recently made drastic career switches -- from working in politics to suddenly owning a fitness company, from plumbing to travel photography; one could be named a "serial" entrepreneur and takes risks regularly; and another who's simply always known what she was put on this planet to do.
If we look at your past and your present as a Before and After, what was your "Before"?In my past I was a weekend warrior. I slaved away as a plumber Monday to Friday and as soon as the weekend hit I would escape. Immersing myself in nature and photographing the outdoors felt right and made me feel happy. Photography was just a hobby, I didn’t enjoy what I was doing for work, but it paid the bills and allowed me to travel.
What is the "After"? Or, rather, the now? What are you chasing every day?To this day I chase after the feeling of un-certainty and stepping outside my comfort zone. I am fortunate enough now to be able to do what I love as a freelance photographer. I travel full-time around the world taking photos for various clients.
The moment you decided to pursue the "After" - describe it for us. What pushed you over the edge to make that move? What changes did you make in your life?After not being allowed to take anymore days off work due to photography gigs on the side, un-happy with what I was doing day to day and knowing that life is to short for shit jobs, I decided to take the risk and give my notice. I invested in the gear needed to be successful in the industry and eventually got rid of everything that tied me to being settled in one place.
Have you identified the things that motivate you the most? What are they?I am motivated by hearing stories and surrounding myself with others who have made a drastic change in their life in order to do what makes them happy. It inspires me to work harder and chase my dreams.
In one sentence, tell us your goal for 2016.My goal for 2016 is to use my reach on social media and give my voice to help out non-profits and bring awareness to organizations that make a difference on this planet.
ERIKA BAROOTES @barootesBefore: Politics After: Co-owner at BLITZ Conditioning
If we look at your past and your present as a "Before" and "After", what was your "Before"?The words I would use to describe my “before” would be: intense, stressful, influential, consuming. My work took up a large portion of my time and did not allow for much of a personal life – which I deemed appropriate given the audacious goals I had set for myself professionally. I moved to Edmonton to work in politics. In doing so, I knew it needed to be my primary focus if I intended to excel at it. I wanted to build a reputation, grasp a firm understanding of policy versus politics, and see results. I was successful in accomplishing those tasks, however, politics sometimes determines your fate and as a result, I left spring of 2014. Since, I have been able to discover my other skills and build a life in Edmonton – something I previously took for granted.
Now, as an owner of BLITZ Conditioning, what is the "After"? Or, rather, the now? What are you chasing every day?I am chasing the ability to define my own fate. To be my own boss. To make an impact. To pick what I really want to be “when I grow up” and make it happen. The “After” still has stress, intensity and is all consuming, but when you are doing it for yourself, the stress seems marginal. The “After” is not the end, as I realize that learning and gaining knowledge is what drives me. This sometimes makes it difficult to navigate a career path or understand exactly where I am headed, but that is okay. My current experiences are priceless and the knowledge I acquire will travel with me every step of the way. I am in pursuit of being a visionary thinker - someone that sees long-term outcomes and has the ability to view a situation from a variety of perspectives prior to finding the solution. I have no doubt that my eternal desire to absorb information will forever fuel my “After”.
The moment you decided to pursue the "After" - describe it for us. What pushed you over the edge to make that move? What changes did you make in your life?Boredom is what constantly pushes me over the edge to do something more than I did yesterday. The moment I decided to enter the world of entrepreneurship, it was full steam ahead. Some deem me an extremist, which is probably suiting given my motto is “Bring 110%” (which hangs as a neon sign in the spin studio at Blitz Conditioning). When I commit to doing something, I go all out and live for the results. This decision, aka “the After”, has allowed me to focus on what is best for me and what I think is the right thing. Working for yourself gives you the freedom to explore those answers. Let me be clear, it does not make life easier, but it does make it a lot more exciting. I love knowing that my success is dependent on me - my “After” has not changed that, but made it more evident.
Have you identified the things that motivate you the most? What are they?Knowledge motivates me more than anything. I aspire to know everything -- from why we call football “soccer”, to complex international policies, to how a faucet works. It can be the most practical or complex topic – but I need to understand it otherwise my curiosity and googling abilities will get the best of me. I am also very motivated by others. Fortunate for me, this city (Edmonton) is full of great people that go out and do what they love everyday. I am talking about the entrepreneurs and creators in our city that are pursuing their dreams and fight every day to achieve them. Many I call friends and others are people I admire from afar. Either way, their determination is contagious and I plan to use it
In one sentence, tell us your goal for 2016.Define and declare my 10-year plan to the world!
If we look at your past and your present as a “Before” and “After”, what was your "Before"? What is the "After"? Or, rather, the now? What are you chasing every day?
What you should know about me is that my life's work is advancing women and girls. That's pretty much why I'm on the planet. Every professional job I've had has been connected to promoting women and girls, whether it's in education, the nonprofit sector or working at Levo. There's always been that theme.
The before and after: before, I used to think of my career in a transitional sense, and now I think of my career as a portfolio. What I mean by that, is that Levo is a company that was founded by and is run by millenials. So, millenials have essentially changed my life. In the before, I imagined a career to be a situation in which you devoted, 24/7, all of your gifts, talents, skills and abilities, to one brand. You negotiated a salary for that brand, and you had goals and you achieved them, you got promoted and you'd get a little bit more money out of the tree from that organization. That's how I used to navigate my career.
The After, what I described as a portfolio career - that is, you have gifts, talents, skills and abilities, but depending on the context and what the market bears, you might engage directly with your consumer. For example, before, I used to be president of the White House Project. I leant all of my work and skills and talents to the White House project, and devoting myself to that one brand. Now, I'm the Chief Leadership Officer at Levo. I'm a public speaker, I have a public speaking practice. I'm an author, I just finished my book that will be released in February of 2017, and I do a lot of work with nonprofit organizations that are focused on women and girls. So, everything -- from my time, my resources, my energy, and my economy, my money -- is now diversified between a number of different things and it allows me so much flexibility, allows me to work in a much more healthy way. It allows me time, for example, where I'm working for 7 hours just on a book, just on writing, on thinking. Whereas before, I would never have imagined having 7 hours just imagining and thinking.
That's the Before/After that I've experienced working at Levo and working with a company that affords me the ability to do that.
Describe the moment you decided to write a book. What pushed you over the edge to make that move?
I was on the launch team for Lean In and when that launched in 2013, I also did a lot of public speaking. In 2014, I spoke on at least 60 stages, probably to over 20,000 people, in just the second year alone. I noticed a trend that no matter how much I spoke about public policy that needed to change in order to elevate women in their careers, no matter how much I talked about corporate policies, organizational culture that needed to change, no matter how much I talked about external figures and your achievements, people always had one question: how do YOU manage it all? Which I always found to be a very personal question. After a while it really did hit me. How you manage your personal life and your work life and how you create a life that you're passionate about is what you can't write a speech about, it's something you'd have to take people on a journey through. So, I decided that I would write a book, because I'd be more entitled to answer that question.
Tell us your goal for 2016.
I do have a goal, it's not really a wordy, journalistic goal. But I've just written a book, so my goal for 2016 is to nail a marketing strategy for the book. The book is called Drop the Ball. Writing a book is only 1/4th of the process. The rest, the 75%, is selling the book. So, my goal for 2016 is developing a marketing strategy for the book. Because I already know why I'm on the planet -- I never have to develop annual goals. I just know why I'm here and I already know what I should be focused on in general -- there is something that I'm trying to move forward, which is advancing women and girls. That's what I know is going to take up most of my time.
KEN BAUTISTA @kenbautistaBefore: Serial Entrepreneur After: Serial Entrepreneur, co-founder of Startup Edmonton
If we look at your past and your present as a Before and After, what was your "Before"?
I don't think of entrepreneurship as a career or job, but more of a way of working. I've also tended to tackle projects and ventures in waves (around five years at a time for each wave), with each one spring boarding the next. As I look back, there's been three distinct waves made up of one interactive agency, one games company, and the most recent, founding a nonprofit company (Startup Edmonton), which was all about helping entrepreneurs in my hometown have a place to gather and connect as they started new ventures. It was what I wished was around when I started my first company just out of university.
What is the "After"? Or, rather, the now? What are you chasing every day?
I'm in the "After" right now! After growing Startup Edmonton from a "merry band of startup friends" who got together for hackathons, democamps, and drinks, to establishing a downtown hub and campus for the startup community, and finally an acquisition by our local economic development corporation, I decided to step away late last year to tackle a new adventure. It's been amazing to see how our community has evolved over the last five years (and seeing the rise of awesome startups like Poppy Barley!) and I was fortunate to get to meet and visit and learn from many other startup communities around the world. I'm interested in exploring this at a global/macro level. So I think my next adventure will sit somewhere in the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and urbanization. As a few billion more people are added to the global urban population over the next twenty years, many of who are part of a rising entrepreneur generation, the way we work, build and live together in cities is rapidly changing. That means lots of problems to solve to drive new startup opportunities (so stay tuned).
The moment you decided to pursue the "After" - describe it for us. What pushed you over the edge to make that move? What changes did you make in your life?
Like many entrepreneurs, I'm always looking at how to do things better, even if that means going against the status quo or what politically is the safe thing to do. And I'm super impatient, so I want to tackle things right away, which brings varying levels of risk. But I don't believe that entrepreneurship is 100% correlated to being a risk-taker or not. It's pretty rare that one is able to simply drop everything, especially the older you get. Family and taking care of home is always my number one priority, so calculations always start from there. So it's about giving yourself options and opportunities to take risks and make choices, which means knowing things like how much it costs to have the life you want to have, the skills you want to gain, the product you want to build - a year (or five) at a time - and what it'll take to springboard into the next wave of life.
Have you identified the things that motivate you the most? What are they?
I've met a lot of founders and entrepreneurs over the years and I can quickly tell who's in it to make money or who's in it for something greater. The ones who talk about having an impact, doing something fulfilling, solving real problems, sharing connections - those are the types of individuals that I want to be around. Having like-minded individuals as part of my local and global tribe adds to the experience of entrepreneurship, but it also elevates and shapes whatever I'm working on.
In one sentence, tell us your goal for 2016.
To build something incredible.