When I formulated the concept behind Connective Impact in 2013, I asked for input from friends, colleagues and family members. Most comments were supportive, and many commended me for my bravery. Others questioned my sanity, wondering if I had thought all of the elements of this new business through. Granted I was starting with effectively nothing: no clients, little funding, but a bold idea to transform how partnerships developed to effect change. Anyone who knows me, however, knows that I cannot just wait around for things to happen. I had been struggling with a lack of challenge professionally, in some cases lack of respect, and questioning my path forward for a while at that point. I had sought new job opportunities, but nothing presented me the feeling of fulfillment I had sought so deeply. I was at my wits end when I quit my job, giving my employer 60 days’ notice, and began to build this new company from scratch. It was, in many ways, risky and indeed borderline crazy. But as I share in my book ChangeSeekers, Finding Your Path to Impact, a nonlinear trajectory led me to this place for good reason.
With various degrees of success in each position I’ve held since graduate school, I have been asked often about my professional journey, about the path I took to get to where I am today, how I’ve grown an extensive network of professional contacts, and how I had the gumption to quit my stable job and start Connective Impact. I’ve had more coffee meetings than I can count, enough telephone brain-picking sessions to fill a lifetime, and more advice emails sent than I ever thought necessary. My thoughts are always the same: take risks, be bold, be curious, ask questions, be a good listener, never stop learning, follow your gut, and keep moving forward at all costs.
When my friend Adam suggested that I publish my story about starting Connective Impact, instead of continue to repeat myself over and over with each request, I made the brave decision to take pen to paper and begin recording my story. At first, I wrote about the lessons I have learned fighting to get noticed in a (male and also generally) dominating world as an investment banker, then a policy negotiator, an NGO program leader, and now a company owner. The story evolved, however, into lessons in resiliency, grit, and determination—how letting go of guilt, fear, self doubt, and insecurity can lead us down paths toward fulfillment we would never have otherwise tested. I chose to include stories of others whose journeys are also laden with determination, a willingness to test the status quo or take risks.
These ChangeSeekers continue to inspire me, as many have, in the way each of their life’s work is about making a positive difference and seeking impactful paths for themselves. The process of writing became incredibly cathartic and emotionally healing for me after years of struggling with questions around my sense of worth. I realized that over the course of my many years navigating my own challenges, finding the “right” fit, and seeking a more impactful career, there might be something worthwhile to share.
It has been an honor of a lifetime to write this book, and I am deeply grateful to everyone who has helped make it a reality. I hope it inspires other ChangeSeekers among us, and at the very least, allows its readers to take comfort in their own winding, curious, and thrilling paths to impact.
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