The Right Questions Can Lead to the Right Risks


Back in November of 2011 I made a decision that altered my entire career.  It’s been exactly 90 days since I made that decision and guess what!? I’m not regretting it one bit.

I must preface this by noting that my entire career in has evolved due to a series of decisions to pursue a vast array of fun and very interesting challenges that were placed before me. The challenges ranged from hitting 200% of a sales quota, filling as many $100K positions as possible an Executive Recruiter in one month or managing a remote and cross functional team while maintaining a $3.5M budget for program and project resources and expenses. All of which were focused in the field of Human Resources.

A Realization

One of the things that I learned early on in my career was the art of asking the right questions, but not only that. Once identified, asking those questions at the right moment also proved to be a very useful skill to learn.  At coffee one day with my VP he asked me a question that resonated with me far more than I hoped it would. I was asked, “What are you doing here?”  It got me to thinking believe it or not. I was noticing as well that I was starting to think about my future career path and where I would be in the next few years. The only thing I could think of pertaining to my corporate life was climbing just another rung in the HR Ladder. But did I really want that? I wanted to so much more than to roll with the motions. I was really looking for a place where I could stretch my wings and work as broadly as I could cross-functionally. So how does one really go about doing that?

As a Millennial it’s hard not to notice the ocean of opportunities that you could cease if only you had the time. During November of last year I was juggling three different offers of which two were advancements in my current field and one which would eventually take me down a completely different path in my current company. I was always the one that tried to follow some semblance of an integrated path towards success, so naturally I gravitated to what I knew best as being the most attractive opportunity to set my eyes on. Several conversations with mentors and friends and I decided to take the opportunity I knew absolutely zilch about not analyzing the risks and potential of failure – I jumped in cold turkey, right into the world of optical jargon and engineering banter.

The decision to leave the world of Human Resources in November was in no means for me to snub the career where I had spent over half a decade nurturing and in return a career that had also nurtured me. It was crafted by a series of well-placed events that led me to believe that my new direction and capabilities were destined for more than just contributing to the world of HR.

The World of New Product Introduction, literally.

New Product Introduction literally is new product introduction. There is something new about each day – you get to pave the way in product and in process. There’s something invigorating about not knowing what your day is going to look like when you walk into the office. Saying yes to the opportunity didn’t come easy because as I mentioned previously, I was also entertaining an offer to work at a larger company that provided an opportunity to work on overhauling its employment branding and university relations through social media. Any millennial would jump at that opportunity right? Not this millennial – I guess somewhere deep inside I really felt the inner-adventurous in me navigate towards the risk of the unknown.

The Risk is Worth the Reward

Every day I am learning something new and have never been happier. I guess the great thing about this too is that I’m not as critical of myself as I used to be. The last 90 days have taught me a lot I didn’t know about myself.  I learned that mistakes are to be celebrated because at the end of the day it’s really all about how you handle the crisis. I’ve also learned that I find satisfaction in sitting back and listening to other people talk about what they define the problem at hand to be. This was so valuable because it really helps you better provide solutions that you probably would not otherwise have realized if you were so busy thinking about how you thought the problem was defined. I’ve learned that it’s ok to ask questions – you get better at it and you enjoy the color people bring to a question you thought only had one answer.

There is no telling where this new path is going to take my career. Though one thing always remains true and can be applied to anyone, millennial or not.  Taking a step towards the unknown isn’t always going to be a bad thing. Now I’m not asking you to jump off a cliff – but think about it, when you are presented with an opportunity to do more and learn more… how could you say no?


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