As soon as I could walk I had a basketball in my hands. And as soon as I had a basketball in my hands, my dad was teaching me about the game. We watched it, we studied it together, we played it together... It was our thing. Like any good leader, he used my love of basketball to connect with me in other ways. He would talk about commitment, hard work, and team work to accomplish something. And many of these connections were through stories that he would write to me. He had an old type writer down in the basement, and whenever something big was happening in our lives we would hear him pounding away at it. "Clack clack clack clack clack" - And sure enough, the next day there would be a well written story sitting on my bed or slid under my door.
I never forgot these stories, and one of them is legendary in our family, "The Zone." I think it was a way for my dad to share parts of himself that the world didn't see, and that stuck with me, as did his love for reading and writing. Life went on, I graduated high school, went to college, and entered the work force. As I grew in my career, I realized I was I working jobs I didn’t enjoy, reporting to bosses I didn’t admire, and supporting companies whose missions I didn’t believe in.
That all changed for me when, in 2008, I got sick and received a shiny new kidney from my Aunt. Shortly after, I quit my job and used the inspiration from my dad's writing as a launchpad for Final 5. In the beginning, we produced videos. But it didn't take long for me to understand the power of story and for me to shift the direction of the company. I realize now that the same way he used story to connect me to important things that he believed in, organizations can use story to connect their audience with what's important to them.
All without the drudgery of basketball practice. Whew.
I spent my entire life believing that the only way to success was to be the smartest person in the room. And if I couldn't be that, then I needed to at least act like I was. My job out of college was as an account manager at a large asset management company. It was an interesting journey with that organization. On the one hand, I learned more about fulfilling a client's needs than I had ever thought was possible. But on the other hand, I never felt like I was bringing my true passion to the work. It was certainly important work, both to our organization and to the people whose money we were managing, but I often found myself wondering if there was more.
The pressure to appear perfect built over time. It was my responsibility to send out the newsletter and on one instance, I sent it out to each of our clients to thank them for their patience during market volatility. Rather... to thank them for their "patients."
The number of letters we received confirmed that the simple misspelling of a word (one that couldn't be caught by spell check) was more than a small fuck up in this world of perfection. Most of the responses to this "disaster" said something along the lines of "how can I trust you to manage my money when you can't even spell?" I would spend years after this second guessing everything I said or every email I wrote.
After so many years of pretending to be something I wasn't, I'm finally learning to embrace the value that I bring to work I care about. And even more important to me, I'm using the talents I've developed in other facets of my life, like previous jobs and in my role as a mom, in new and different ways. Where I once wondered if I was wasting them on investments, I can now clearly see the import of them to work that matters and the import of everything I learned along the way.
I've traded in my suits for jeans and my catered lunches for bagels at DIB.