Friday, January 28, 2011

Paying it Forward.

pay it forward Pay it forward..

I had a wonderful coffee meeting yesterday with a senior from University of Washington. Taylor and I both grew up in Olympia and went to the same high school. We are both Tridelts and communications majors at UW. So, needless to say, we had a lot to talk about. A few weeks ago she reached out to me for an informational interview. I have been meeting with lots and lots of people lately for informational interviews and networking myself as I work through my own career transition. I feel indebted to these wonderful people who are taking time out of their busy days to meet with me, guide me, inspire me. Yesterday I paid it forward and realized how good it feels to guide and inspire others. Taylor and I spent two hours together and it was so rewarding to me to pass along my experience to someone who reminds me a lot of myself at that age (and now?!) --  confident and ambitious but unsure of the future. 


1995 Porsche 911 Carrera

Several people throughout my career have challenged me to identify my personal passions and interests as a way to find meaningful, inspiring work. The best career advice I ever got was from my friend Suzanne, who I worked with at my first job at Children's Hospital. I had been there for six years and was ready for something new. Over beers one night she asked me the simple yet pointed questions: "What do you like? What are your interests?" At that time, she was not only working at Children's but on the side had started an international health NGO. So it was a bit embarrassing to admit I liked cars, shoes, clothes and coffee. Yes, in that order. Sounds shallow, huh? She didn't judge or discourage me. Rather she supported, encouraged and inspired me. That very conversation helped me focus my next career moves in high tech PR for a company working in the automotive space and then three years later I landed my dream job in corporate social responsibility communications at Starbucks. Maybe the fashion industry is next?!



Of course I shared this story and this same advice with Taylor yesterday. I encouraged her to identify her passions and interests, take some time off when she graduates in June, and work for a non-profit. I asked if she liked Nordstrom. She responded "I love Nordstrom!" I could just tell. She is tall, beautiful, smart and stylish and admitted she loves shopping and fashion. But like me felt a little embarrassed to admit it.  I passed along the same support and encouragement I received from Suzanne and many other friends and mentors over the years.


I found it interesting that Taylor and I are both in transitions. What she is doing is essentially the same work I am doing right now - in the middle of my career - to figure out what feeds my soul, or as a friend I saw yesterday who is also in a career transition put it: what lights you up!

Taylor is 21. (Aah, to be 21 again!) Our age difference is 18 years. She was three the year my husband and I met. Wow! But the gap did not feel that wide at all. It reminded me of how much we can all learn from and inspire each other no matter the age difference, or if we are younger or older. Taylor’s youthfulness and upbeat attitude inspired me, and it felt good for me to pay it forward to her.

Who inspires you?

What are your passions and interests?

If you haven't thought about these things in a long time, I encourage you to do so and find what lights you up! It's really the best way to live.
As I was searching online for images to accompany this post, I found several interesting images and blogs about the same topic. Actually there were more than 33 million search results. I’m paying it forward to by sharing a few of my favorites with you. Enjoy!

Image from Namesake Design via another great blog Brunch at Saks

Image from Yellow ...makes me happy! blog

Mark your calendars! April 28, 2011 is international Pay it Forward Day. Who knew?!

pay it forward
I think this site pretty much sums it up.
(Kind of sounds like karma to me!)


  1. I love it! You're so smart to communicate so clearly about your passions - you only go around once - might as well REALLY enjoy it!! :)

  2. Well put Amy. I feel grateful to be doing what I do for a living. The word "work" has taken on a new meaning in my world. I can't wait to get to "work". Great advice for someone just starting out. I think their is often pressure to get a high powered job that pays well regardless of fact that you like what you do or not. Follow your passion, too true.