I subscribe to the belief that life is a journey, not a destination.
Born and raised in Germany, I came to Silicon Valley in the 90s to work as an intern at HP in Palo Alto.
Coming from a country where your career progression is often tied to time worked at the company and possibly your age, I was mesmerized by the seemingly endless opportunities and energy of the dot.com boom.
Fast forward fifteen plus years, and I am the owner and founder of MarketingXLerator, a social media marketing consultancy.
Sounds picture perfect, doesn’t it?
Have you heard people tell their life story in a way that sounds as if they carefully planned each event to lead them to where they are today? You just know they picked out the best bits and aligned them to make the story sound linear.
Well, life is not like that for most people. I’ve been trying to find my calling or passion all my life, and I am still looking. Is running my own business what really fulfills me? Can any job fulfill me for the long run?
Along my road, there have been many bumps. Externally, I appear to be very confident and outgoing, but internally I can’t shake off that impostor feeling. I hear from many other women that they can relate.
My life strategy has been to push past the fear. I think that fear is normal and challenges are normal, the skill is how to deal with them in a productive manner.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Buddhist philosophy, which encourages us to live in the moment, slow down, get to know ourselves, and accept who we are; the ultimate challenge.
My relationship to Silicon Valley has changed. If I enjoyed the fast-paced and go-getter mindset in the past, I now look for more meaning in my work and for connection. I struggle with the “always-on” expectation and the culture that sometimes seems to put business success ahead of humanity.
For at least the last four years I have experimented to create a better work-life balance for myself while attempting to do stimulating work at the same time. Frankly, I am not sure it is possible.
In one job, I reduced my work hours to a four-day-week. I learned that it was just not the right job for me, no matter how many hours. Then I became a contractor for 3-days-a-week to have more time to teach yoga and start my own business. I found working a 3-day-week extremely challenging, as it is not the pace at which business moves. It is difficult to be given responsibility when you work part time and many people did not take me seriously.
My current stage is that I work full time in my own businesses. My hope was to reduce my hours to enjoy other parts of life while helping clients use social media to meet their goals – but, especially working in social media (such an ad hoc culture) -I have been unable to make that a reality (yet).
Good lessons I have learned so far are that I am never as good alone as in a team. I’ve built my own professional support network and have colleagues that I can bounce ideas off on. And it feels great to be able to make independent decisions based on my personal values.
Where will the journey take me next? I don’t know.
I think the key is to figure out how I define meaning and then execute towards that.
A book I co-authored “42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing” was just published and after working on it all year, it’s a good feeling. We are donating all proceeds to the Khan Academy (matched by our publisher), and I see meaning in providing a resource that can hopefully help others do a better job.
ABOUT the AUTHOR: Natascha Thomson is the Owner & Founder of MarketingXLerator – a B2B Social Media Marketing Consultancy – with a focus on using social media to connect people for business impact. She is also a co-author of the book 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing.