What if we started measuring career success in the present tense? - Christie Pitts, Backstage CapitalFeatured
What's your personal definition of career success? Has that evolved over time?The narratives we see and hear about career success usually revolve around visible, cumulative measures like money, title, and recognition. What a limiting way to think about a career! What if we started measuring career success in the present tense? A career is a collection of moments and experiences. We can’t go back in time and change what has happened in the past, and our career in the future is dependent on the choices that we make today. So, to build a successful career, we need to start with the present, and get curious about our current experience. Ask yourself: When you start work for the day, are you using your time in a way that is valuable to you? Are you working on something that challenges you? How does success in your role help you achieve your personal goals? Do you enjoy spending your time with the people that you work with? By continually making decisions that you can feel good about in the moment, you build a successful foundation for your career. When I was younger, I thought that career success was about earning a specific title, a high salary, and being known for my achievements. In a role that wasn't a good fit, I ignored signs like boredom, feeling anxious and unhappy, and actual poor health, because I was in pursuit of a "successful" career. I thought of those negative signals as the price to pay in order to make the "right" moves. What I didn't realize was that I wasn't making my own decisions as to what the "right" moves were. I was letting external influences dictate whether or not I was successful. My mindset about my career changed when I made a choice at Verizon several years ago: I could stay in my executive role, or I could move into a new role which was lower in status, but which aligned with what I was curious about. If I chose to change roles, it would seemingly be a step back because the new role had a less senior title and was non-managerial. On top of that, it was not just a new role for me, it was a new role within the company - which means that there would be no existing model for success, and no model for career growth from that job. It was completely uncharted territory. I made the counter-intuitive change and took the new role. I'm so glad I did! After time, it led to another role - which was my first working in venture capital. That led me to meet Arlan Hamilton, my Partner and Co-founder at Backstage Capital, where I now hold the most challenging and gratifying role of my career to date. We hold high standards for ourselves, and I still experience frustrating moments and setbacks. But, I get to work with a group of purpose-driven, thoughtful, talented, and creative people; I have a lot of freedom to decide what I work on and how my days are structured; and in addition to the joy of working towards a meaningful mission, we have so much fun together!Christie is a General Partner at Backstage Capital and Co-founder of Backstage Studio. Previous to Backstage, Christie spent 13 years at Verizon. She started as a part-time customer service representative in a retail store and was fortunate to hold several different roles with the company, eventually becoming a Venture Development Manager on the Verizon Ventures team.