What Do You Have To Lose?

by: Minda Harts, CEO, The Memo

Recently, I was at Marshalls buying candles. (Don't judge me - they have the best candles.) In addition to my candles, I also ended up buying this sign that said: “Follow Your Dreams For They Know The Way.”

It got me thinking: there was a time in our lives where we dreamed so big that no one could bring us back down to earth. Somewhere between “adulting” and disappointment; we changed the way we dream. So many of us ignore our dreams, or limit what we think we can do.

We don’t allow ourselves the space to get crazy, audacious, and ambitious.

I remember when I made a career transition into the development industry (a.k.a. fundraising). I remember telling my mother as I was sitting at my desk at Northwestern University, “This is my last winter in Chicago.” She asked where I was going, and I said "I don’t know, just somewhere warmer. I can’t do these cold winters any longer."

After that, I feverishly started looking for jobs that would allow me to pursue my dreams. (I might be dating myself here, but remember Monster.com and HotJobs?) I always had this idea that my ideal job would involve traveling, staying at grand hotels, and would have a great salary. My intention was to find that job! Eventually, I came across a Fundraising Consulting firm out of Henderson, Nevada, a few miles outside of Las Vegas. Their starting salary was $45K plus bonuses and free summer housing during their onboarding period. It only asked for a four-year college degree, and a few other basic requirements. I was in my early 20’s, and I was sure that this was the job for me! It seemed to check off all the boxes of what I wanted: I wanted to leave Chicago, I wanted to travel, and I wanted a good salary. This was my opportunity. What did I have to lose?

I applied without having a lick of real fundraising experience, but was able to tell a compelling story of how selling candy bars and calling local businesses for church donations translated into the ability to raise money for campus organizations.

I didn’t realize it at that age, but I was articulating how my skills were transferable. I am a firm believer that sometimes you can create opportunities for yourself if you believe in you, first. I went through rounds of interviews via the computer. I never even set foot in Nevada until my first day of work. Back then, remote interviewing wasn’t typical -- Google Hangouts and Skype had not yet really hit the scene. My parents, meanwhile, were praying I hadn’t found some fly-by-night business in which I'd find myself in an unfavorable situation.

Just like that -- and just like I'd told my mother -- I'd seen my last Chicago winter. I packed up my one-bedroom apartment in Lincoln Park, and went West. (Well, my family packed it for me because I had to report to work sooner than I expected.) I had less than $200 in my pocket, a dream, and a prayer that I wouldn’t be selling vacuum cleaners when I made it to Las Vegas.

Taking that first step allowed me to have a long, lucrative career in fundraising. That job turned into a career that allowed me to live in five different cities before I was 26 years old, accrue more frequent flyer miles than George Clooney in Up in the Air, and make friends with the staff at the Hyatt. I met some amazing people in Austin, Sacramento, Denver, and all the places I lived, worked, and traveled.

Had I not set the intention to go forth and slay no matter what, I probably wouldn’t be writing this today.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk despite what the situation might look like or what others might say. Learn to make a bet on yourself! If you bet on yourself, you will position yourself the best you can toward a win! Even if you fail, bet on yourself again until you hit the winning number.

Consider: You have six months left in this year. What do you want out of your career, and what do you need to help yourself live your best life? If you have never attended our in-person or online career boot camps, take a look at our curriculum. You just might find the resource you need to help you get closer towards your goal. As a gift from The Memo to you, use the code “thefinishline” for 25% off your next online career boot camp. What do you have to lose?