At the age of six, I knew I was going to be novelist and horse trainer. At the age of 14, I knew was going to be a flight attendant. At 17, I was definitely going to be a screenwriter. At 19, a teacher. At 21, I was definitely, definitely going to be a Japanese/English interpreter. Now I've found my dream job as a community manager.
While it's incredible to look back and see how far I've come, it's also discouraging to think of time "wasted" writing unpublished novels, screenplays, creating curriculums and learning a language that I don't seem to utilize. However, it's also easy to put a finger on the pulse that continues to drive my career and proves every branched path, obstacle, and scenic route were all part of the same path – a passion for helping people and making a difference personally no matter where I work.
Throwing myself into a new dream is easy for me, it's the limbo in between that's difficult... that tough time when my path forks or I'm approached by an opportunity that could be better (or worse). It's the uncertainty of letting go of one dream and starting a new one. Did I make the right choice? Your career is a life-long journey where sometimes you feel like you've made an improvement and other times you feel like you backtracked several years. And then there are the times when it's completely out of your control and you need to start over. I strongly believe it's not about the job – it's about the experiences and the pulse that shapes your path.
That's why I love hearing stories from people who are further along in their journey. One of my favorite threads in JiveWorks is the comment section of Community Manager Appreciation Day where many of our community managers in JiveWorks shared their background. The variety of experiences that have brought us all to the same place is astounding! Connecting the dots and seeing where unrelated experiences connect are an encouragement for me when I face similar crossroads. This is why I'm so excited to share Elisa Steele's interview with New York Times. I've posted a few interviews with Elisa before, but this one is hands-down my favorite. You can truly trace her journey from scooping ice cream to CEO of Jive Software and pinpoint the pulse that has driven her from helping people while scooping ice cream to helping people as a CEO. How her passion and desire to treat everyone as a valuable customer – regardless of status – played its role in every (seemingly) unrelated job she held throughout the journey to becoming the head of a company.
Check out Elisa's interview to see how obstacles she faced in early management shaped her career and how she works. One of the key points in her career was taking initiative to help out smaller customers of the company who were largely neglected and the opportunity that grew from there. Elisa also shares what she looks for during the hiring process including asking about experiences, decision making, and provided candidates with the opportunity to share about themselves. She wraps up with advice to college grads starting out on their journey - "Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are or what you can do. Follow your instincts." Find your pulse and run with it – you'll see how it connects further down the road.
What about the JiveWorks community? What's the pulse that drives you throughout your career journey? Why do you do what you do?