Ep. 97 Quitting your job stories

quitting job stories

In today’s episode, Anna looks back to October 2018, when she published her book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5: Stories from people who’ve done it (and how you can too!), with example quitting your job stories.

After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna Lundberg has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative.

Although the people interviewed all share the experience of leaving a full-time job to pursue something different, that ‘something different’ that they have chosen has manifested itself in varying ways. The stories include those who have moved into a different sector; gone freelance; launched their own business; created a portfolio career; or taken a leap of faith, not yet knowing what the next step will be.

In addition to the stories themselves, Anna shares her perspective and guidance from her own experience in leaving her corporate job and from her clients’ experiences, drawing out key insights to help you create your own career transition story.

In the episode today, Anna reads the full introduction from the book!

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside



Quitting your job stories


Hello there. And welcome back to the latest episode of the Reimagining Success Podcast. My name is Anna Lundberg and we’ve been looking at what I call the fifth pillar of having a sustainable business, a sustainable escape from the corporate 9 to 5. And that is work-life integration, designing work-life integration, I.e, making your business work around your other life priorities. Everything else that’s so important. Everyone else that’s so important in your life. The last few weeks we’ve been looking at taking time off. So being able to plan, both little chunks of time off during your day, during your week. But also importantly, taking proper holiday during the year, which is so important and yet can seem so difficult when you are self-employed, especially when you’re first starting out and you’re ambitious and you’re excited about your business.

So we’re going to be shifting gears a little bit. I’ve been looking at the overall idea again for a little while now, for a few episodes, of leaving the corporate 9 to 5 as I call it, and what better time to do this than this week? Because as you’re listening, first of all, it’s my birthday today when you’re listening, so happy birthday to me. So 3rd October, so that’s a big day of course. I’m hopefully off doing something fun today and certainly will be this weekend.

However, it’s also the second-year anniversary of my book, which is this one, which is exactly that, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5: Stories from people who’ve done it (and how you can too).

Now this was from a personal perspective a massive achievement for me. I like many of you I’m sure have been a would-be writer. I wanna-be-writer for a long time. I’ve been blogging now for many years, I did lots of creative writing courses, journalism and all sorts, and had some articles published, which is very exciting. But of course not a lot beats that feeling of having a paperback in your hand that you’ve written and you know that your heart and soul has gone into.

So hopefully it’s one of many books that will appear. Of course, it’s always a bigger endeavour than you realise. But I’m really glad that I used my birthday as an excuse, as a reason as a deadline back in 2018, I guess it is two years ago now, in order to get that book out. And in fact, once I got the book out, my next goal was to get this podcast up and running. And so that will be the next milestone we’re celebrating, because in a few weeks there’ll be 100 episodes of the podcast, which is also exciting. But what I want to do this week is a little bit different, because I get a lot of requests from people who ask me to do an audiobook version of the book.

The reason I’m a little bit reluctant to do that is that the book is a collection of 50 stories of other people’s transitions out of the 9 to 5 and into doing something a little bit unconventional. My dream would be to have each of those people come on and read their own story, or at least have a couple of different voices so it’s not just me talking at you. And that of course feels like quite a big project. So unfortunately it’s not something I’m able to take on right now.

What I thought I’d do today is at least read the introduction for you. So if you haven’t read the book, this will hopefully give you a bit of an idea already, some insights, and also a little bit of an idea of how the book is structured. And if you’d like to pick up your own copy, and a bit of a reminder perhaps if you have read it before. And then as I said, in the next few weeks we’ll be looking at different aspects of the process of leaving your job and starting up on your own as well. So hopefully this is a good little introduction to that.

Now, if you are more of a listener or watcher than a reader, I do also have some of these stories At least. Some of these people have been interviewed on video. So those are on my YouTube channel. So do check that out. So you should be able to find it on YouTube by searching Reimagining Success. That’s probably the best way. Unfortunately, my name has been usurped by a lady who has had a baby recently, a celebrity couple. So unfortunately I’m going to have to work on my search optimization. But in the meantime, you can find me by searching Reimagining Success.

So let’s see where I’m going to start, and I’m not sure how long this will take. So I’ll get into this, but here we go. In fact, why not to read the little dedication at the beginning first. The dedication is, “To the courageous souls out there who have taken steps to follow their heart and to you the reader, who are about to do the same.”

So here we go. So this is the introduction.

“As the classic good girl growing up, I did pretty well at school. I followed instructions. I did as I was told, and I didn’t create too much trouble for my teachers and my parents. When I left in 2000, I graduated as valedictorian with the top GPA, grade point average in my year, 43 out of 45 points for my International Baccalaureate. I got an unconditional offer to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics, PPE in modelling college at the University of Oxford. I continued on to do a master’s degree at the Graduate Institute of International Studies as it was called at the time in Geneva, Switzerland, where the former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan had studied. I then took a managerial job at one of the top consumer goods companies in the world, Procter & Gamble, P&G.

However, let me share a little bit of how I came to take that job at P&G. My friend and I had filled out the online application almost as a way to pass the time, a bit like one of those online personality quizzes. All the other jobs I was applying to were roles in the United Nations, the UN, organisations, nongovernmental organisations, NGOs, or charities. And this was my only private sector application. Having completed the online prices for P&G I was asked to do the verbal and mathematics tests, which I passed. Then in December 2006 I was invited to three sets of interviews with three different people, actually six, as each interview also had a junior manager shadowing the more experienced interviewer, to see if I was right for the company and for the marketing function.

The interviews took place on a Monday. On the Wednesday that same week I got a phone call from the marketing director who told me I had the job. I should say as a parenthesis – this is a little bit of an insight, a behind-the-scenes secret that’s not in the book… That Monday evening I came back from those three interviews and I had two little shots of Baileys. That’s how stressful that process was and how worried I was about what would happen if I got the job and had that choice if I was going to take the private sector job or go continue my endeavours to join the UN.

So the marketing director laughed when I didn’t even think to ask what category or brand I would be working on. Fine fragrances, ‘Prestige Products’, and explained that I had to accept the offer by the Friday in order to get the paperwork through so I could start on 1st of February 2007. That gave me two days to make a decision. When the offer came through the salary was more than I could have imagined, and definitely more than I would have received at any UN institution or NGO. And it was hard to refuse. I told myself that I could take this job, learn marketing communications in the private sector, and then returned to international development a few years later when I’d be able to bring those additional skills and years of experience into a more senior role. I accepted the position.

The reality was that I knew nothing about P&G, nothing about marketing. Once I joined the company, I was surrounded by people who had studied business or management studies who had sought out P&G for its status as one of the global market leaders in branding and consumer goods and who are passionate about this as a career. The difference was very clear to me. And as a result, I always felt a little bit like an outsider. That being said, I proceeded to give my all and soon learned the ways of the business, becoming a top ranking assistant brand manager, ABM. Now, despite this accidental route in, I love this time at P &G and I have no regrets, right. It was a great company and a fabulous school for marketing, as well as teaching me softer skills like presenting, business writing and collaboration with a multifunctional and multicultural team.

I worked with smart, capable people. Some of whom will be friends for life and many others who’ve been incredibly supportive of my endeavours since I left, and even instrumental in getting me work. A lot of what I’ve done since leaving would not have been possible without that time at P&G. Nonetheless, this was not really how things should have gone. I did not have the skills, at least not the learned knowledge from university. I did not have the passion, and fundamentally I was not really motivated by the bigger purpose of the company. Given my ambitions to work in international development, I told myself and anyone who’d listen that that was where I was supposed to be. I didn’t do anything about it though. And so there was this disconnect between where I was and where I thought I should be, with little chance of that ever changing.

Feeling so disconnected to what you’re actually doing will wear you down over time, and this is what happened to me. After seven years in the company, I’d experienced three different aspects of marketing. First, a design role, then more of a commercial operations role, and finally a digital marketing role. The digital department and team was quite separate to the main business, and so I became even more detached from the core organisation. There was also no obvious career path for a digital marketer in the company at the time, and no clear next step for me.

On a personal level, I’d become very comfortable in my routine in Geneva while things were shifting around me. Most of my closest friends and colleagues had either gone back to their home country. Geneva was full of expats like me, or they’d married, moved to the suburbs and popped out two children. I started to crave something different, adventure, freedom, excitement, but didn’t quite know what to do instead.

So I asked for some time off, my boss agreed to a sabbatical and off I went to travel across South America for three months. It was during that trip that I began to glimpse an alternative path. I met people from all walks of life, with all sorts of different backgrounds and experiences, and I started to imagine all the things I could do. Halfway through that trip and after much soul searching and multiple phone conversations with friends and family, I called up my boss and officially handed in my resignation. That was in 2013. And over the years since then, I’ve had a lot of different experiences outside of the corporate 9 to 5.

I’ve been a consultant working on a temporary, but full-time contractual basis. I’ve done freelance writing and other remote project work. I’ve trained and certified as a coach. I’ve set up a business, and I’ve now built a portfolio career that spans a combination of these. I like to say that I’m reimagining what success looks like for me. And I’m passionate about inspiring and supporting others to do the same.

As it turns out I wasn’t alone in feeling disconnected and dreaming of leaving the 9 to 5. Tragically there are lots of people today feeling stuck and frustrated in their corporate 9 to 5 jobs. And the truth is that the vast majority of them are never going to do anything about it. Instead, they’ll continue on that conveyor belt towards the next promotion and salary increase. They might fantasise about another way of working and living in the rare moments when they have a bit of time off, at the weekend or on an inexpensive holiday. But then they’ll tell themselves and anyone else who will listen, that they can’t leave because of their mortgage, family, and so on.

As it turns out, there’s just one thing that you need to do so that you don’t end up like these people who will remain eternally stuck and frustrated. You have to decide that you’re going to make a change. During the years since I left, I’ve been interviewing others who’ve broken away from the corporate 9 to 5 and created an alternative career and life for themselves.

This book is a collection of those career transition stories, which I hope will inspire you as to what is possible, while also giving you advice on the things to watch out for if you’re considering making that transition yourself. Whether you’re completely undecided, or you just need that extra reassurance, I’m hoping that this book will help you make the decision once and for all.”

I shall continue. So the next chapter, or rather section of this chapter, the introduction, is around common themes from the stories. This is hopefully interesting to you to give you a glimpse of what you might expect from reading on. “Despite the range of different stories that I’ve collected in these interviews, the different age and location of each person I’ve spoken to, and the specifics of their personal situation, there are striking similarities between these experiences and common themes that emerged from our conversations. In each interview I’d start off by asking if there was a particular moment at which the individual decided to make the change. The general pattern that I’ve seen is that the change has usually been a long time coming. In the sense that many of had an inkling that they wanted to do something else and being suppressing the urge to make a change for some time.

To actually make the change however, there’s often been some kind of trigger, which could be anything from a powerful conversation or an inspirational event that they’ve attended through to being made redundant, from a personal illness or tragedy to a change of circumstances at work. The next question would be around the biggest challenges that people are faced in making these big changes in their careers and by extension in their lives more generally. Here a number of fears and concerns have reared their ugly heads. These include the fear of making the wrong decision, the fear of failure, apprehension about what other people might think. And of course, concerns about being able to pay the bills.

There is a degree of uncertainty that inevitably comes with the freedom that so many of us crave, and this can be unsettling. The third question will be around the support that people are found to overcome their fears. And here there are also commonalities. It often starts at home with an understanding partner. Finding friends, new and old, who encourage them along the way. Talking to people in their network to get both ideas and referrals. Getting professional help via a coach or a group programme that guides them through the transition or teaches them new skills. And most importantly, doing a lot of work on themselves. On their fears and the underlying beliefs that drive them, and ultimately choosing to believe in themselves and their ability to make it work.

Next I would ask people to share the best thing about their new career and lifestyle. They’ve talked about the freedom to choose what to work on and when. The flexible hours, which free up more time for family and fun, more fulfilling and meaningful work, being able to be themselves and meeting incredibly interesting and inspiring people. Finally, each interview would end up with advice and tips for others who are considering a similar transition, but I’ll leave you to discover these for yourself. Okay. How to you use the book? Let’s end it there.”

So since this is a collection of interviews, each one telling a unique story, you don’t have to read it from cover to cover. Hooray. Instead, you can simply dip into the book for inspiration when you feel like it. I’ve grouped the 50 interviews under the type of transition, moving into a different sector, going freelance, launching your own business, creating a portfolio career and taking a leap of faith. So that you can navigate directly to an area that particularly interests you. Each section starts with a short introduction and ends with some insights on taking your one step. Of course, there will be overlap and many of the interviews could fit under more than one theme. I’ve tried to put them under the most relevant heading. If you’re not sure yet, then I recommend that you start with the next chapter, which looks at what’s the alternative and explore the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

You can also use the index at the back if you’re looking for the name of someone in particular. I published the very first of these stories back in January 2014, and I have been running them monthly ever since. Each person’s story may have, in fact will definitely have evolved since I spoke to them. A transition like this is never just one big decision, one leap, but rather many steps that you take along the way, the journey continues. The lessons, however, remain as powerful, whatever happen next in that person’s story. Towards the end of the book, after the stories, you’ll find a chapter on creating your own story, which will guide you towards taking concrete action if you’re feeling inspired to embark on your own career transition story.

You’ll also find a further resources chapter, which includes an article that I wrote on 10 things I’ve learned since quitting my job without a plan. And by the way, I’m going to be reading that on next week’s podcast episode as well, along with a recommended reading list with my favourites, to give you even more inspiration and guidance. To help you take action and provide you with further support beyond just reading the book, I’ve also created a free audio training, and I’ll leave that for you, but that’s all on the website and the book.

Whatever you decide to do or not to do, I hope you enjoy these stories and wish you every success in your career, whatever that means to you. So there you go. So that is the introduction to the book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5: Stories from people who’ve done it (and how you can too). It’s, as I said, you can dip in and out to read the stories, you can flip if you know that you want to start your business, if you know you want to be freelance. If you don’t know what you want to do, you can skip to the taking a leap of faith chapter at the end. And it’s really, these interviews are a couple of pages long. So you can just dip in when you’re feeling a bit down or when you’re looking for inspiration.

So again, leaving the Corporate 9 to 5. If you have read this, I would love to hear from you what insights you’ve had, maybe which favourite story you had, and if anything in particular resonated. And of course, any questions that you have as well. So as ever, you can reach me at podcast@onestepoutside.com. Or you can also share your story on your favourite social media platform and tag me, because I’d be really happy to hear and have you share as well. Because I’m sure you have other people in your community, in your network of friends and colleagues who might be interested as well.

So, happy birthday to me, happy two year anniversary to the book. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoyed listening to that little introduction. You can of course get the book on Amazon. I’ll do a little outro in a moment where you can hear where you can find that, but I’ll tell you, you can also of course search just Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 on Amazon, and you can get it in paperback so you can hold the beautiful copy in your hands, or you can get the Kindle version as well. Thanks so much for listening and I look forward to exploring this topic in more detail with you over the next few weeks. Bye for now.

If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Up-level with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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