Pushed Off a Cliff: 3 Actions You Can Take to Leave Your Corporate Job


Pushed Off a Cliff: 3 Actions You Can Take to Leave Your Corporate Job

Fifteen years ago I walked away from a job as Sales and New Business Development Director of the world-renowned Disney Institute based at Walt Disney World Resort (#Disney). I had a guaranteed paycheck and benefits galore. I didn’t want for anything and was on the fast track to a bright career future. 

Since then I’ve connected with literally tens of thousands of people—some in person, some through e-mail, and many through phone calls. It saddens me how often I hear from people who feel trapped. I’ve lost track of the hours I’ve spent listening to bright men and women share how frustrated they are with their lives. 

So many of you want to leave your corporate jobs but aren’t sure what actions to take to get yourself out and on your own.

I have also met many, many people who have successfully catapulted themselves into their own businesses. What I’ve realized is: there is one consistent idea that threads my own career shift with those of all these other entrepreneurs.

We took consistent and intentional actions that built a ledge high enough for us to jump off of.

Recently I was talking with one of my brilliant mentees, Raven Solomon, about the actions she took to leave her job as a sales executive of a Fortune 500 company. Read on to learn how she, like me, took specific and focused action to move herself out of corporate America and into professional freedom.

1.  Jump (or get pushed) off a cliff.

People say all the time to leap off the cliff or just go for it, but Raven tells folks all the time that she was pushed off the cliff.

Raven was a sales executive at Frito-Lay and things were going well. But then she started having seizures. After a seizure caused her to get into a car accident, she realized she needed to take some time off from her fast-paced, stressful job. 

During that time, she knew in her heart that, for the sake of her health, she would not be able to return to corporate America. She decided to part ways with PepsiCo even though she didn’t yet know what she was going to do.

In order to figure out what action she should take, Raven said she searched in three places:

  • “I searched my heart for my passion, purpose, and what most excited me about waking up in the morning.

  • I searched my mind for what I was good at: what tools did I really have?

  • I searched the market for what was missing.”

You don’t have to go through something dramatic to push yourself off the cliff and into your own venture. What worked for Raven was she was forced to start thinking differently. You can manufacture this for yourself by setting goals and establishing timelines that will generate a sense of urgency. 

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a day off from work and away from your house to search the three areas Raven mentions. 

  • Once you do that, figure out what you have to do to build your competencies in the direction you want to move yourself. Then, give yourself a certain amount of time to figure it out. Taking a class, going to an event, creating a mastermind group with friends, or any other way to build in a sense of urgency will expedite your progress. 

  • Set aside a certain amount of time each week to work towards this new direction. It could be 30 minutes once/week. Just start somewhere. Odds are, once you get started, you’ll want to keep going. 

2. Don’t go it alone.

Raven and I met at a conference a few years ago. Inspired, she reached out for mentorship and asked how she could SERVE. I was blown away by her heart, humility, and eagerness to support others.

She shared with me her vision for working with interns: a centralized training program to train millennials and Gen Z’ers in the areas related to soft-skills that they lacked. She saw a gap in the market: companies need this training for incoming employees, but they didn’t have it in-house. 

So, she decided to create it.

These trainings included topics like: engagement, business writing, professional branding, presentation and public speaking skills, interpersonal communication, maximizing internship opportunities, networking, office and dining training, corporate navigation, problem solving and conflict resolution, and personal finance. 

“What makes us different is that 80% of our workshops are delivered by Millennial practitioners,” she says.

Beyond the training, Raven created a community and network that was missing. Instead of hosting a one-off conference, she had a vision for a series of conferences that can be applied over a period of time.

Finding a mentor or group of advisors is CRITICAL when you’re branching off on your own. This person could be someone in the space you want to move into, or it could be a successful person whose opinion you trust based on their experience and perspective.

  • If you can’t think of anyone in your immediate vicinity to mentor you, get on LinkedIn. Start sending out some messages. You will receive a reply sooner or later.

  • Book regular time with your mentor - every 30-90 days, depending on your timeline.

  • Don’t underestimate the power of peer mentorship. Pull together a group of like-minded friends with whom you can workshop ideas.

 3. Focus on the solution.

Raven thought she had to be a millionaire before being qualified to speak. At first, she thought without a major platform already in place, nothing she said would matter. 

As she worked with her mentors, she made a shift. She got confidence by believing in what she’s doing. 

She knows that what matters is not about her - it’s about the problem she’s solving. 

Even when she got declined by 49 companies she personally called on, she received great feedback and that drove her forward. Raven has found success because of this resilience. She shares of herself transparently. She says, “People like real people. It’s rare that a person shares their vulnerabilities.” 

As you venture out on your own, it’s important to keep your energy up by focusing on the solution you’re bringing to the marketplace. If you keep your eye on the ways you’re serving others — even if you’re charging for your product — your personal setbacks won’t slow you down, because you’re committed to the bigger picture.

Raven’s advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs is this:

“Don’t be afraid to pivot – KNOW there will be a pivot along the way.”

Raven Solomon

Raven Solomon

Raven Solomon is the President and Founder of Center for Next Generation Leadership & Professional Development (www.nextgenlpd.com). They provide companies and universities targeted soft skill development for millennials & generation Z. “What makes us different is that 80% of our workshops are delivered by millennial practitioners. We are currently wrapping up our inaugural city-wide conference for corporate interns—the LPDi Summer Series (www.lpdisummerseries.com) —where our focus was to provide soft skill training and community to interns across the city of Charlotte.”

Raven is also a Keynote Inspirational & Leadership Speaker is (www.ravensolomon.com) – She specializes in providing keynotes on life and leadership to young professionals/emerging leaders, students, and leaders of millennials at corporations and colleges.