How nurturing my genius led to the best nickname I’ve ever received

A few weeks ago, I attended the “Women of Achievement” luncheon hosted by the Columbus YWCA. One of the honorees was Nancy Kramer, founder and chair of Resource/Ammirati. I was particularly interested in what Nancy had to share for three reasons:

  1. She has built one of the most respected and successful digital agencies in the world.
  2. Her reputation within our community is outstanding. Everyone who knows Nancy loves her. (I haven’t yet had the privilege of meeting her.)
  3. In 2009, I worked for her company for exactly 4.25 days.

The theme of Nancy’s talk was about nurturing your genius. The central idea was that everyone is a genius: everyone is born with the ability to be great at something. There’s no such thing as being stupid, or not good enough. You simply must find your inner genius, follow it, and thrive.

Although I didn’t use those words at the time, during the fall of 2009, I decided to take the first step toward following my genius. After the recession hit the company I was working for, I found myself without a job. Within a few weeks, I was offered a job at Resource, doing account management work similar to what I’d been doing. I was excited to work for such a progressive company with brilliant creative minds. I could walk to work. And I knew at least a half-dozen friends who were employed there. Life was going to be incredible.

I started work on a Monday with full sails, eager to make my mark. Each day my sails deflated just a bit more, but I wasn’t sure why. By Thursday evening, I was sure I’d made a mistake by taking the job and yearned for a do-over. I made two phone calls during my walk home from work. One was to Miguel, a friend, mentor, and former boss who told me, “You’ve worked too hard to find your voice to stop following your gut instincts now.”

The other call was to my brother Peter. I asked him, “Will mom kill me if I quit a job during a recession just because it’s not what I want to do?” His response: “When your brother Mike quit his job to go bowling in all 50 states and write a book about it, Mom offered him her car so he’d have transportation.” Those phone calls provided me the answer I knew was inside my heart all along: I needed to quit my new job and nurture my genius.

So, on that Friday morning I found myself on a four-hour conference call in a windowless “pod.” It was a brilliant fall day outside, and I longed to experience it. During a break on the call, I told my new boss that I had made a mistake and didn’t want the job. The head of HR was brought in to make sure nothing bad had happened to me. I assured her I was fine, but I just needed to follow my heart and find my bliss. My inner voice was calling me to different work and I couldn’t afford to ignore it.

When I left Resource that Friday morning I walked through Goodale Park on my way home. When I saw a man dressed as a clown, riding a unicycle, I knew my life was forever going to change. I knew that if a person could pull off riding a unicycle at 11 on a Friday morning, then I could certainly quit a job one week in and land on my feet.

What happened next? I found the hardest and most rewarding job of my life. I found my bliss. My Resource colleagues also dubbed me “One-Week Walsh,” and surprisingly, I couldn’t have been more pleased.


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