Musings from The Bon Bon Queen's Chaise Lounge

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Most Likely to Succeed?

I'm a member of Ladies Who Launch, a fabulous network of female entrepreneurs across the country. Each week, they ask members to write about a topic relevant to entrepreneurs. When I saw that this week's topic was "leaving the corporate world", I decided to weigh in with my thoughts and experiences about doing just that:

In high school, I was voted Most Likely to Succeed. Determined to live up to the prophecy, a decade later I found myself climbing a Madison Avenue corporate ladder as a headhunter for more than three hundred multinational corporations. I lived in a great Upper East Side apartment, earned an impressive salary, and worked more than sixty hours a week. Some might have said that I was well on my way to achieving that high school superlative, but something was missing. I didn’t feel successful.

On my quest to unravel the truth about success, I discovered a quote by Norman Lear. He said, “Success is how you collect your minutes. You spend millions of minutes to reach one triumph, one moment, then you spend maybe a thousand minutes enjoying it…. If you were unhappy through those millions of minutes, what good are those few minutes of triumph?” I was spending millions of minutes sitting behind a desk in exchange for money that I used to rent an apartment I didn’t even have the time to enjoy.

A few years later, I found the courage to trade in the paychecks, the security, the weekly manicures and the expensive haircuts for the minutes. Eight months ago, my French husband and I moved back to my hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina and started South ‘n France, an artisanal company that makes hand-dipped chocolate bon bons. My experience in the first Wilmington, NC, Ladies Who Launch incubator helped us to generate free publicity for the company and take the leap to secure a business loan for our first national candy trade show, where our bon bons were voted Best New Chocolate Product.

These days, instead of a business suit, my professional attire consists of a huge pink hat decorated with cakes and candies and bon bons. We converted an old luncheonette into our bon bon factory, and now my commute takes about thirty seconds—the time to walk from our living quarters to the 39-by-14-foot kitchen where we produce, pack and ship our product. I’m still working more than sixty hours a week and I’ve yet to earn a salary, but I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve found my version of success.


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