It’s never too late to do what you love.
Taking Control & Finding your Passion
Written by Lynn Power
I spent my 30 year career in the advertising industry. And I loved most of it. But, in my last few years in the industry, I found myself at a point where I was really not enjoying it much anymore. I had worked my way up to become CEO of J. Walter Thompson NY, one of the largest and oldest ad agencies in the world. It may sound glamorous, but I was actually spending a lot of my time dealing with administrative and operational issues -- HR, legal, finances. And while that’s certainly part of any CEO job, I had gotten really far removed from doing what I loved -- building brands.
In 2018 I took control of my own destiny. I left JWT and became an entrepreneur. I launched MASAMI, clean premium haircare with my co-founder James Hammett in February 2020. And Isle de Nature, luxury bee-powered home fragrance, launched in September 2020. I was an “older” founder -- 52 when I launched my brands, so don’t feel that you are ever too old to do something you love (no matter what other people may say). In fact, I often feel that I am much better equipped now to run my business than I would have been even 10 years ago. I’ve been able to leverage a lot of my experience and knowledge from marketing and advertising now for my own brands.
If you’re thinking about a career pivot or launching your own business, you might appreciate some of these tips I’ve learned along the way.
1. Build a network. This is so important on so many levels. Being able to bounce things off of other founders, peers and experts has been invaluable (especially on those inevitable dark days when you question everything!). Find a mentor (or several). They don’t need to be “older” -- but ideally, they should have some expertise that you need. I have a younger TikTok “mentor” who is helping me figure that out. . .
2. Have empathy and flexibility. We launched our businesses during a global pandemic which meant that many of our strategies (like partnering with salons) had to be rethought which required a new level of flexibility on my part. You also can’t underestimate what other people are dealing with so if you approach everything from an empathetic perspective, you will find that you will also be able to manage the change easier.
3. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s super helpful to be painfully self-aware about what your superpowers are and where you are lacking. Don’t look at your weaknesses as a flaw that has to be fixed or that you need to know everything -- rather view them as an opportunity to augment the team. . Make sure you understand the capabilities you will need to build for your business and if you don’t have the skillset, it’s pretty easy to find someone who does (I use Fiverr quite a lot and there are a ton of other great freelance resources).
4. Don’t forget about your brand positioning and story! Most categories (like beauty and candles) are super crowded. You will need a clear and compelling brand story to stand out so spend some time thinking through your positioning, your brand values, your archetype and your enemy -- all components of a powerful brand story. Make sure there is whitespace for you -- and make sure it’s a scalable business. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time and effort on a business that might not grow the way you had anticipated. And by the way, it always costs more to launch a business than you plan for so just be aware of the realities.
5. Build your work around your lifestyle, not the other way around. I’ve found that this is the best way to unlock your passion -- because work becomes an enabler for your amazing life, not the thing you spend the majority of your time doing just to get a paycheck . If you love to travel, make that part of your “job”. I’m fortunate to be able to go to Japan for MASAMI (where we get our hero ingredient) and to Dominica for Isle de Nature (where we source our beeswax and build hives). If you want flexibility to work virtually, then you can create your work situation in a way that works for you. And if you need to have your dog with you everywhere, you can figure that out too.
If you’re not doing what you love, I hope you can do some soul searching to figure out what it is that inspires you. For me, it’s putting products out in the world that are good-for-you and good for the environment. Once you have identified your passion, you’ll find that creating a business around it isn’t really that hard to do. It’s so much more fulfilling to feel like “work” isn’t really “work” and you get to spend time with people you love everyday.
Taking Control & Finding your Passion Taking Control & Finding your Passion