Before you go, sign up for our email newsletter to get inspiring stories, expert advice, and more.
Real Estate Entrepreneur
Hermosa Beach, CA
Every sacrifice felt like further commitment to my end goal: professional freedom.
In 2006, I was 24 years old and I couldn’t imagine life getting any better: I’d just moved to San Francisco and accepted a position with the largest asset manager in the world; I’d survived skin cancer melanoma; and I’d recently earned a master’s degree. I had a closet full of trendy clothes and my bedroom featured “grown-up” furniture. At night, I fell asleep listening to the fog horns on the Golden Gate Bridge. Life was surreal.
Two years later, something unexpected happened: I lost my ambition and became unhappy with corporate life. The economy was in a recession and my options were limited; I felt stuck. But, as I watched friends and family members get laid off, I felt guilty for not appreciating my own secure situation. Another year went by and my disenchantment turned into fear – what if I was laid off too? How would I survive? My savings were limited, and my background wasn’t aligned with most Bay Area jobs, which fell into two buckets: biotech and Internet.
I started spending my evenings brainstorming possible business ideas. My favorite was a web application designed to help large apartment properties market their availability online. Though I was far from tech savvy, I dove into in the creative process and was elated to draw on my education and experiences to inform the work. At the office, I struggled to focus, but at night I had to force myself to stop drafting wireframes so I could get some sleep. Although fear had motivated me to come up with a possible Plan B, quitting and focusing on my “hobby” seemed far too risky.
Fate had other plans in mind: My employer learned of my side project and fired me. Without a paycheck or another opportunity lined up, I was left with only one option. There is a story about how, in his effort to capture Persia, an outnumbered Alexander the Great ordered his troops to burn their boats – inspiration to stand their ground and take the island. My boat was burning and the island was in clear sight.
Determined to succeed, I sold anything I could find to fund the development process. I didn’t mind that suddenly my mattress and once-coveted clothes were on the floor of my bedroom. I learned to live without the convenience of a car or a cab; instead, I rode the bus. I ate a lot of spaghetti during the months that followed, and turned down many dinner parties and vacations. Instead of depressing me, however, each sacrifice felt like a further commitment to my end goal: professional freedom.
Over the last four years, my business has grown and I’m fortunate to own furniture and a car again. Every day I’m grateful for the opportunity to support clients and solve problems. Because of my newfound flexibility, I was also able to relocate to be near my grandfather for the last six months of his fight with Alzheimer’s. As my own boss, my work/life balance is up to me.
I’ve always felt things happen for a reason, but I never thought getting fired would be the catalyst for such an amazing change in my life. Now that I live in Southern California, I no longer hear the fog horns as I go to sleep at night. Instead, it is the crashing waves that remind me my destiny will always be what I make of it.
Get more from Lean In
Start a Circle
We make it easy to get started, and provide all of the materials you’ll need to run your CircleStart your Circle
Join a Circle
Women around the world are meeting regularly in small groups to support each other and learn new skills–join one todayFind a Circle
Learn New Skills
Use our library of education resources to build new skills and support your careerBuild your skills