“aha” moments

imgresThis question came up the other day that I thought would make a great post.  What were your “aha” moments at each juncture of your career.  I think of those “aha” moments as forks in the road.  I got to a place where it was time to go down a different path.

I have been extremely lucky because I have had so many “aha” moments.  Those multiple shifts are part of who I am, what I have learned and my decision making process.  I love that I have had so many careers.  Who knows maybe another one is in my future.

Here are my “aha” moments in one long paragraph.

Fun in high school, rose colored glasses off, realized I needed to go to a place where I could get a job once I graduated.  Chose a school so out of my comfort zone but was a wise decision.  Was in a long term relationship that was not healthy and got out.  Was best friends with Fred at the time.  Started a life time relationship with Fred.  Took a job at Macy’s.  Macy’s goes private, not moving fast enough for me, leave.  Took a job in the garment center.  Each year move forward into new jobs because I got bored.  Four jobs in total.  Last stop in the garment center realized it was time to just get out.  Stayed at home with our kids for a few years.  Time to return to work.  Worked a few jobs and decided it was all about the Internet.  Was the number two at Silicon Alley Reporter.  Company decided not to sell so I left.  Chaired Mouse.  Thought it was important for our kids to see us give back.  Left Mouse and stayed home for an extended period of time figuring out what’s next.  Started blogging.  Started investing.  Co-chaired the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival.  Always thinking about the next.  There are a few more ahas in there but that’s the gist.

What’s next?  What was your “aha” moment?


Comments (Archived):

  1. Tracey Jackson

    They seem to come every 7 or 8 years…first big one was after trying to be an actress for 9 years I wasn’t getting enough work, someone made a bet with me to write, sat down, two hours in – aha this is what I’m meant to do…aha to get out of my 1st marriage at 39 before I was too old to start a new life and have another kid..met Glenn…aha…he’s the one…48 was not getting enough jobs in film, times they were a changing…aha I made a doc….aha when I realized that would not be a career I could count on, so I moved to books…aha..blogging seemed to be taking off – try that…aha – loved it.. books and blogging…now it feels like podcasts are a good place to reach the masses…Paul Williams and I start one in June for PodcastOne.. I think a big secret to aha, is not worrying about what may come. I never have – I just went rumbling in to places that I knew nothing about figuring I could learn on the job or not.There a bunch of screw ups I didn’t mention…Not all ahas work, but most of mine – like yours have! Never be afraid to change…you’re not.I’m not. It’s good.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It’s very good.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      “not worrying about what may come” – Amen! Failing is badass 🙂

      1. Erin

        But it takes a while to see it through that lens. At first you’re like, I have really failed life! And then you’re like, no- I tried something and it didn’t work. Next attempt…

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Yep! I think I’m lucky though, in that my folks really preached a ‘try, try again’ ethos. I sort of expect to fail the first few times at anything. My problem is that I don’t trust when I succeed (impostor syndrome)!

          1. Erin

            That’s when mindfulness comes in- sitting down and getting intimately acquainted with the physiological reactions to the stress of success. Because yeah it’s new territory.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Yessss 🙂 I learned mindfulness a long time ago from a great teacher 🙂 Know thyself, baby! Life, The Adventure, is the prize.

          3. Erin

            That mindfulness shit is good stuff.

    3. Brandon Burns

      Sounds like you’re always able to find a silver lining, and follow it to the next thing. That’s a talent most others don’t have.

  2. William Mougayar

    My first big aha was the internet in 94. While I was planning to be at HP for the rest of my corporate life, I realized that the internet was a work liberator & that its best innovations were to come from outside big corps. So I left in ’95 & never looked back.

    1. Gotham Gal

      that is a big aha.

  3. William Mougayar

    Let me guess your next aha: Aha, that tech stuff is hard…I’m going to stick with real estate 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal


    2. Brandon Burns

      Let’s make a bet. My money is on Joanne doubling down on something having to do with food instead. 🙂

  4. Anne Libby

    Hah, great contemplation.First career aha — in the days before the words “hostile environment” had a widely held meaning, the moment when I saw that my experience in a top research university lab was a likely fractal of my future experience in a science career. Aha, women look like they’re doing well in financial services. Moved there. Next big one, my (female) boss, while coaching me about my future prospects, advised me that I had “an inflated sense of self.” Aha, need a new boss.And so forth..The funny thing is, these moments really did feel like something. There was an “Aha.”Looking for the next one…

  5. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Fun post! Ahas:1995 – internet1996 – coding1997 – internet startups1999 – I can do a startup of my own!2007 – I guess I AM going to have kids2010 – I sold my startup to the wrong people :(2011- kids really do make life more fun2012 – I’m good enough to get into an accelerator!2013 – time to write the code myself (thrice burned is enough) and I CAN2014 – my daughter doesn’t have enough female superheroes to choose from (‘Kirsten, you’re gonna do WHAT?’)So many ahas in between. Do some people go thru life with little or no aha’s? I can’t imagine what that’s like.

  6. Erin

    I started getting aha moments when I was 29. It started with a realization that I was addicted to sugar after sitting down on Halloween night and eating the entire bowl of candy so there was none left for the trick or treaters. Started a radical, clean diet the next day that lasted six months, cleared up my skin, cleared out my body, and changed my life… Two years later, was working in a call centre, realized my life was going nowhere, decided I either had to kill myself or become a nun. Joined a book club with Catholics, where we read about the 4 temperaments, realized i might be creative- started cello, piano, singing, drawing, designing. Met a guy at drawing class (three years later got out of that unhealthy relationship.). Went to a workshop at a monastery … holy shit… realized my low self-esteem, depression, moodiness, selfishness, and blame-laying was making everyone around me miserable, no one was going to save me, and if i was going to have a good life, I was going to have to carve my own path… and figure out what made my brain tick. Also realized sitting in church one Sunday that there wasn’t actually anyone in Heaven listening to my prayers and if there was, he could damn well watch me go out and get what I wanted instead of waiting decade after decade for “career direction.” Realized self-employment was where it was at, quit my job, realized I had no idea what I was doing, went back to work. Realized if I was really going to be my own boss, it’s going to be very very tough, but there is no price you can put on loving what you do. Love those aha moments.

  7. Brandon Burns

    About 4 years ago, I was 28, had the job I always wanted, a Creative Director at the most awarded global agency, opening the Beijing office, and doing the best work of my career. On Volkswagen. Cars, in smog blanketed Beijing. It just didn’t sit right, nor did the projects for the Verizon or McDonalds or any of the rest (beer accounts are kinda fun, though!). I basically got paid to create business altering products for a good salary, but one that amounted to a crazy disproportionate return for myself. The aha came in realizing that I’d be miserable if I kept that up and didn’t try to generate the results I got for my clients, for myself. There was even a dramatic, “I quit!” scene, to boot!Since then, I’ve been experimenting, learning, piecing together the lessons, and hopefully am somewhat close to my next personal aha — cracking the code to getting what I want.

  8. Hope Lawrence

    Big AHA a few years ago…I realized I never wanted to work in a cubicle again. I was done. But then an EEK moment – how am I going to support my family (two boys, then 2 and 5) for a very long time? I started my own granola company and so far, so good. It is scary at times and I often think fondly of the days “when we had money”…but life is good.

  9. Mario Cantin

    Trust me I’m not using flattery when I say that the fact is you seriously have your shit together.For many people, and I might be one of them, there are more “Oh f**k!” moments than “Aha” ones.One of my aha ones, though, was spotting who should be my wife, courting and marrying her.Another one in 2001 has been making me over 200K / year.But I’ve missed a few that would have made me financially wealthy.Other ones have made me mentally and emotionally better.There are a few regrets as well.Life is quite a journey, isn’t it?

    1. Gotham Gal

      life is certainly a journey.

  10. pointsnfigures

    First one was when I walked on the CME trading floor in 1981 for the first time. The roar, the smell, the sweat. It was me. I have left it, but parts of it will never leave me. That’s a good thing.