I was stuck. It was the same story and the same drama over and over again. While the corporate world had its material comforts, I was purposeless and goalless, convincing myself that even though I was only making the rich richer, I was doing what society expected of me. And that is what I have been doing all of my life. A good school, a good college, a good job, moved to New York – the only thing left was settling down and moving to the suburbs. And then do what?
I struggled with this for a while. Because the truth is, the ¨conventional¨ route – going to a good school and doing well at a good job – is important. I have no regrets; I learned a ton. But it was when I started having confidence in my skills and could no longer justify the merits of the corporate rat-race that it was time to take a leap off this (to me) purposeless ladder.
To me, that is what ´Experteering´ is all about – taking all that I have learned in the fast-paced skyscrapers of New York and applying it where it matters more. And now I am here in Xela, Guatemala, working for Alterna Impact, a social enterprise cultivator and accelerator that focuses on catalyzing social innovation from the ground up. We, at Alterna, believe in inclusion. We will try and support every individual with an idea, irrespective of her education level, background, or idea.
This experience has turned my life around. I have never been happier, never been more focused towards what I want to achieve, and who I want to be. All it took was a leap.
It was a calculated leap, though. Before I took the leap, I had to figure out what I wanted to focus on and what my long-term goal was going to be. I always wanted to be in the social impact space, and I knew I was done with Corporate America. But I didn’t know much beyond that. Enter books, conversations, forums, and a whole ton of thinking. Then the pieces all fell into place. I committed to spending the next two years learning as much as I can about the social impact space through working or volunteering my time in Central and South America, Africa, and South Asia.
Eventually, I will make my way to India, where I want to start my own social enterprise that focuses on fighting poverty through economic empowerment. This will be my lifelong mission. I’m not sure exactly what my social enterprise will be, and that’s okay – I’m Experteering my way around the world to find out.
My first stop, as I alluded to a little earlier, is Alterna. How did I get here? We are so fortunate to be in an age where moving worlds has never been easier. There is a ton of information out there, and a ton of opportunities, especially if you have skills and experience to offer. My sister pointed me to MovingWorlds and 80,000 hours, and I also came upon the Skoll Foundation.
All in all, after an admittedly not-so-rapid process, I had five different Experteering opportunities to choose from. I chose Alterna because it would give me exposure to more entrepreneurs, albeit with the risk I didn’t get to dive too deeply with any single organization. The experience Experteering with Alterna has easily lived up to expectations. I have not only had the opportunity to work with local social entrepreneurs, but I have also been fortunate to be inspired by them. We hosted a free five-day retreat in October 2017 that brought together 20 social entrepreneurs from the creative space in Central America. We coached them on everything from their value proposition and their impact strategy to their financials. It involved group activities, brainstorming sessions, and a ton of post-its. The commitment, the passion, and the ideas that flooded through that retreat were spellbinding. Work has never felt more contentful.
While I have been trotting along with my fellowship at Alterna, I was also a part a MovingWorlds Impact Team (MWIT). Together with a group of like-minded individuals from all over the world, we explored the social impact space and tried to figure out where our skills and passions best fit within the space. The cohort experience and curriculum of Impact Team were fresh breaths of air as I took the first few steps into my new world. Regular readings, videos, and webinars kept me updated on the latest news within the world of social impact while the discussions and online community gave me a space to process my learning. And this was important because even though I was working for a social impact firm, sometimes being too close to something blinds you from it.
One of the many resources I received through the Impact Team was the “purpose” assessment through Imperative, which was eye-opening for me. My purpose is different from my goal. Purpose is personal, it’s what drives me, and it’s what shapes my goals. I learned that I need to leverage my purpose to achieve my goal. This separation is more important than you can imagine.
I now feel like I am part of a network of people who not only share a similar goal of creating a positive impact on the world, but are also looking out for each other as we pave our paths on this journey of marrying our purpose to our career. In particular, I was paired with an “accountabilibuddy” who possessed a plethora of experience and had the warmest of hearts. I now consider her my mentor, and I will not lose touch.
All in all, I feel like the perfect storm is brewing. I have never felt more inspired and focused. I have never been more sure of what I want to do and where I want to be. I can hardly imagine feeling this way less than 8 months ago before I embarked on this journey.
If you are not happy with where you currently are, and you know you’re either distracting yourself or justifying your career, it is time to take the leap. The best thing about taking the leap is that you can always go back into where you were. But what you will learn from the leap will be limitless. I did it, and I have never been happier. It is easier than it seems, and you have a lot less to lose than you can imagine. Do it already.
And if you want to follow in Anish’s footsteps, applications for the next Impact Team cohort is currently open. Apply today and join other inspiring Experteers like Anish!