In February 2010 I left a senior role I had occupied in the corporate sector for six years. Here is the e-mail I sent to my extended network at that time:
Friends and colleagues:
I hope that 2010 has been treating you well so far and that this e-mail finds you in a good place in your life. For some of you, I’ll be happy if this e-mail finds you at all, as it’s been so long.
After six incredibly challenging and rewarding years, I have made the decision to leave [unnamed company]. It was the second most difficult decision I’ve had to make in my life, and not one made in haste or without the appropriate degree of consideration. My last day is Wednesday, March 31st.
I can see many of you frowning, asking: “who leaves a secure and successful role with a good company, with nowhere to go to???” I do! Whether I’m brave or foolish remains to be seen, however, at the time of this writing I’m happy and comfortable with my decision. I am taking advantage of my childless, single status while I can. Lol. I realized – after sending many of you a similar note a few months back, sharing my desire to begin exploring other opportunities – that I wasn’t focused on my career search. Creating a timeline – via a resignation letter – was just the impetus I needed. I am giving myself the time and the space I need to conduct a dedicated, thorough search, where I will have few distractions.
I am excited at the prospect of a new career opportunity and am hoping that you’ll support me by keeping your eyes and ears open. Whether you know me professionally or personally, you likely have a sense for my ambition, passion and energy. Over the coming weeks I’m looking to expand my network, identify opportunities of interest, and begin the interview process. I’m looking for a fast-paced, leadership position in an environment in need of a change agent. If you know of anything I should take a look at or anyone you think I should talk to, I would love to hear about it.
Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any leads or ideas you may know of!
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
So…what happened between now and then? How is it that I now find myself founder and President of a relationship consulting company…or, more simply put, a matchmaker? I wish that I had paid more attention to the details as they were happening so that I could more accurately chronicle this journey but the truth is, I’m not the most planful person. I’m deliberate, impulsive, intuitive, street smart and decisive…but planful I am not. So, high-level, this is what happened. At some point during my blissful unemployment I discovered Patti Stanger and her TV show Millionaire Matchmaker…during a marathon. I think I watched six episodes straight…maybe more…possibly eight. Despite admiring Patti for her talents, I remember thinking “Hey…I can do that. I’d LOVE to do that. I’d be so good at that. I should really DO that”.
Shortly after the marathon I began casually talking about wanting to be a matchmaker. I don’t know that I had yet given it the proper consideration or thought, but I was testing the waters. Looking for reactions, gauging who my supporters would be, and seeing how it felt to make such a declaration. Reactions were almost entirely positive. Of course there were the skeptics, however mostly out of concern for my ability to earn a living. People were, for the most part, intrigued, inquisitive and excited about the idea. I, on the other hand, was far away from being prepared to commit to this as a new career direction. It actually almost seemed that the more excited people were about the concept, the more I shied away. I was initially fearful that such an endeavour would require a substantial sacrifice in terms of my freedom, financial stability and independence. (I did eventually realize that it was not uncommon for me to have worked 80+ hours/week in the past and that if I had to do it again I might rather do so in the name of love). At no point, however, was I unsure about my ability to conceive of, and execute, the business plan. I felt then, and I still do, that matchmaking is similar to Executive Recruitment (aka headhunting) – a part of my career I had once enjoyed very much. I was confident in my ability to use my interpersonal and networking skills to be successful in this business. I guess I just wasn’t ready. Some days I talked about my “maybe” matchmaking business more than others. I did, however, make a statement – I’m not sure exactly when – that if I didn’t have a corporate leadership opportunity that I was adequately excited about by September 30th then I would go forward with this idea.
So, from March to September, for all intents and purposes, I conducted a job search as originally intended. The premature spring weather and fantastic summer heat got in the way of my search – moderately – as I made ample use of friends’ and family’s cottages. I am grateful for them, their cottages and my excessive free time. The decompression process was a slow one and it wasn’t until mid-June that I realized that the stress and emotion I had been internalizing and collecting had finally dissipated. Now fully relaxed, I had a fair number of carefully selected interviews during the summer (and a few prior) and networked like crazy – my LinkedIn network went from 0 to just under 3000 connections, and turned down a few opportunities.
This had proved to be a much-needed and well-deserved vacation and I am thankful that I allowed myself such an indulgent luxury. In early October, with renewed energy and a greater sense of purpose (after a unique experience which I’ll blog about separately), I formalized my matchmaking business plan (yes, I actually wrote one…put pen to paper), sought out the necessary financing and sent out the following e-mail to family and friends:
It’s official…I am now your local matchmaker. That’s right. I decided to go for it. Assuming you know me, even just a little bit, this makes a lot of sense to you and is something I’ve been talking about doing, off and on, since I left [unnamed company]. Although the plan – when I left – was to rejoin the corporate sector in a similar capacity, it became apparent to me over the past six months that I have been completely uninspired…simultaneously by the opportunities available and the lack thereof. Nothing seemed challenging enough. Nothing seemed rewarding, or fulfilling, enough. I often asked myself some tough questions and kept arriving at the same conclusion…I want to try my hand at this matchmaking gig. It encompasses so many of my passions and allows me to leverage the pieces I enjoyed most about the recruiting industry.
So, as I get ready for a more public launch, I wanted to let you – my family and friends – know what I was doing. The company is called Sitting In A Tree…which, again – if you know me – is so me. Nostalgic, a tad sappy, cute, fun, whimsical and spirited. The website – which is under construction – is www.sittinginatree.com. I am interested in hearing from all single people who are committed to finding a long-term partner. I have several different ways in which I will work with clients and am looking for quality clients versus quantity. All of the services offered are customized – tailored specifically to each client – so the first step is a consultation, offered free of charge. As I expect that prospective clients will be discerning, I too intend on being selective about who I work with, therefore, the purpose of the consultation is to ensure that there is a “fit’. To that end, I will be relying heavily on my network (you) for word-of-mouth promotion and quality referrals. Closer to my launch date (mid-late December) I will be sending a follow-up e-mail for you to share with your networks. This e-mail will provide information on how your network – and their networks – can engage Sitting In A Tree’s services.
In the interim, if you know of anybody who you think might benefit from Sitting In A Tree’s services, please feel free to have them contact me – at the number below, Stacie@sittinginatree.com, Facebook (Stacie Ikka or GoGood Guy) or LinkedIn (Stacie Ikka).
This e-mail led to Sitting In A Tree’s first two clients and the rest, as they say, is history.