[Polish translation for this post is underway / Polskie tłumaczenie tekstu jest w produkcji]
Today marks 3 years since I sold all shares in my two companies. It’s also the day my NDA in one of them expires. What seemed to be a milestone from afar, today is just the same dull conclusion I’ve been having for the past three years - I wish I had never become a CEO.
Having the ability to make one’s dreams come true is a privilege not to be underestimated, however, my take on it is - some dreams are much better dreamed of. For creatives, becoming a founder is fairly easy: we have a natural ability to spot the problem, and the skill to propose a solution. To breed a business is not the same as to run it, though - and for the natural breeders like me, it was no fun. It was something rather dark, scary, and lonely. Yes, it changed me professionally - I became a more intuitive strategist, a much sharper designer, and gained more discipline and a better work ethic. But it also changed me as a person, and there’s something about my outlook on life (Naivety? Optimism? Recklessness?) that is still missing, and I don’t think I will ever get it back.
I can only agree that we need more women in charge. But being in charge, or a #girlboss, doesn’t have to be the ultimate, most fulfilling career path - as neither being a mother nor Sporty Spice will ever be for many. And this choice we cherish, yet professionally, there’s this prevailing narrative, that with the right mindset and the right set of tools, you’re able to tackle the biggest career challenges. Maybe you can, but will it make you happy? Is it sustainable? And is it worth trying?
I can’t answer the last question, but I can share my experience. I never regretted leaving, not for a second. I stopped being featured in the press and stopped wanting any career coverage - to my surprise, I became notoriously private. My job description right now is more of a mid- than a senior-. I am more of a go-getter than I’ve ever been but at the same time I’m more scared than ever of pitching my ideas. I embrace my boundaries way too much and fight hard to leave my comfort zone these days. I meet different challenges and less spectacular rewards, but at least I know this is true growth and not an impossible stretch. Last but not least, I have time to be very happy in my private life.
I know there are more women facing the same challenges - I spoke to them, cried with them, and read about them in the glossy mags. Telling someone to quit pursuing their (great!) idea may not seem like the best career advice, but turns out it is for many - and many listen. During those 3 years, I gave countless advice - mostly about what’s it like to leave, and for the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a small group of my friends to help them exercise happiness within their companies. I will extend what I know to this community. It will be behind the paywall - for the price that prevents both me and you from feeling exploited. I hope to provide some support, a no-bullshit attitude, as well as all the experience I have as a Founder, Brand Strategist, Designer, and woman in her late 30s who strongly prefers dogs to unicorns.
And I hope to see more of you here.