How to find and do work you love | Scott Dinsmore | TEDxGoldenGatePark (2D)
How to Find a Job You Don't Hate
"I found a company I believe in."
—Cara Bondi, R&D manager at Seventh Generation
As a scientist and researcher for consumer-product companies, Bondi felt like she lived a double life. While her "true self" strived to live in a healthy, sustainable way, her "work self" kept quiet even when she had questions about how company practices might harm the planet. That changed after Bondi's husband relocated to Vermont for his job and she began consulting at Seventh Generation, a maker of environmentally friendly household products in Burlington. Suddenly, Bondi could be her whole self all the time, and it was transformative. She has helped launch a line of botanical cleaners and the first diaper with an unbleached cotton backsheet. "I no longer have to ask, Did I do the right thing?" Bondi says. "My mind is at ease about my work. I sleep better at night."
Follow her lead:If you have a strong set of core values, look for a mission-based employer with similar principles. Get a sense of a company's practices and reputation by following it on social media and reading up on news reports.
"I pursued what really moved me."
—Beverly Bond, founder and CEO, Black Girls Rock!
Bond started collecting vinyl records as a teenager, poring over the liner notes and chatting up DJs when she went dancing, but she never thought of music as anything more than a hobby. Scouted to be a model, she liked the pay but always felt insecure. "I was constantly being told I wasn't good enough," Bond says. "The modeling jobs I had were not reflective of who I was in my spirit." In 2000, she started moonlighting as a club DJ. Although she had found her dream job, she was "disturbed by the alarming culture in the music industry that normalized toxic images and messages about women of color. I needed to do something that gives black women a feeling that they matter," she says. So in 2006, she followed her passion again and launched Black Girls Rock!, an awards show and mentoring group. It wasn't easy to speak out — "I was ostracized," Bond says — but she stuck with it, and by 2010, Black Girls Rock! had a deal with BET.
Follow her lead:Bond's professional turning point happened when she took an acting class and learned about being honest in the moment. Thinking so much about what felt true to her made her realize she should try music as a career path. She attributes her success to the genuineness of her passion.
"I embraced public service."
—Julie Menin, commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
Menin began her career as a regulatory lawyer and next opened up a food market and catering business steps from her home in lower Manhattan. Then 9/11 happened. "That really caused me to reevalutate my life and career," Menin says. "I threw myself into the redevelopment of my community, which had been absolutely decimated." Two weeks after 9/11, Menin started Wall Street Rising, a nonprofit that helped local small businesses get back on their feet. Last year, New York City's mayor appointed her to lead the city's consumer-protection efforts. "This is the culmination of so many things that I feel passionate about, whether it's the law, opening my own business, the community, public service — it culminates in this one job," Menin says. "It's incredibly rewarding."
Follow her lead:What Menin had missed when she was a practicing attorney was "the ability to make people's lives better." If you're interested in moving into the public sector, she suggests attending local community board meetings, volunteering with a civic group, or joining a political campaign that inspires you.
"I pitched a new project."
—Alyona Minkovski, host and producer at HuffPost Live
Minkovski got started as host of the cable current-affairs program The Alyona Show, where she covered underreported stories of activists and whistle-blowers. But in 2012, when she joined the streaming network HuffPost Live, she had to shift her focus, hosting more entertainment and lifestyle segments, and less hard news. "I felt like I was failing a bit to live up to my own ideals and the audience I had built over the years," she says. In a meeting with the president of the network, Minkovski pitched a show devoted to social-justice stories. He said yes, and Minkovski launched Free Speech Zone.
Follow her lead:Minkovski didn't start her new job with guns blazing for her pet project. She waited until she'd been there a year — when her experience, contacts, and reputation could back her up. That helped her to be more confident in her pitch. If you're looking to contribute something new, "Ask yourself, where is there a void that only you can fill because you have a unique skill set?" she says.
"I moved from a corporation to a charity."
—Saundra Pelletier, CEO of WomanCare Global
When it came to climbing the ladder of the pharmaceutical industry, Pelletier practically skipped rungs. She started as a sales rep, got promoted seven times in 10 years, and ended up as a high-ranking executive at the drug company Searle (now part of Pfizer). Working for a company that made contraceptives, Pelletier says she was motivated by the idea that "women really wanted to be able to plan their own lives." But as she rose higher in the company, she got pulled away from working on reproductive health. That became a deal breaker for her. Pelletier quit her job and eventually became the founding CEO of Woman Care Global, a nonprofit that helps get birth control to women around the world. "I used to be a pragmatic pessimist," Pelletier says. "Now, I have a hopefulness about the work I'm doing."
Follow her lead:"Women stay in bad situations because they don't take the time to do self-reflection," Pelletier says. So after leaving her pharma job, she kept two journals: one black and one red. In the black journal, she wrote down what she didn't like or what didn't work during her years in the private-sector world. In the red journal, she wrote down what she and others did well that she wanted to repeat. Being able to talk to friends about her need for change also helped. "Corny as it sounds, you need to say it out loud first," she says.
Video: To find work you love, don't follow your passion | Benjamin Todd | [email protected]
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