Having worked in the last 8 years in big multinational companies, it wasn’t obvious for me that my next step would be to abandon a solid career as product manager to start a business in the tour guide sector, especially given my role as the main breadwinner in a household with two toddlers. I mean, being in & out of multinationals and climbing the corporate ladder, was all that I had been doing. It seemed that I was meant to do just what I had been doing.
So why in the hell did I, an Economics graduate with an MBA degree from Cornell University, decide to start from scratch?! Why did I decide to create Rootfarers? Easy. I love my country. I really do. Every bit of it. Its rich history, its heavenly food, its passionate music, and its people. Its good things and its bad things… So I eventually asked myself what could I do with my passion for Portugal?
Change was (is) hard but I took a leap of faith with calculated risks and decided to start a business. It was time to make a turn in my life and create something truly remarkable for me. I therefore combined my experience as a marketer, my love for Portugal and my passion for traveling, and created Rootfarers. The brand is in essence, my take on what Portugal is all about: an absolutely authentic country with a very unique identity rooted in its traditions, land, and people.
Rootfarers is the search for the origins of things. It’s a way of experiencing Portugal beyond what you’re supposed to do and what Instagramming compels you to do. It’s how I think experiencing Portugal should be all about. With Rootfarers you will get to know the nuances, not just the obvious.
So back to my question, can an Ivy league MBA become a tour guide?Can an engineer become a painter? Can a football player become a priest? Can anyone become anyone? Yes! Society is full of people that changed their lives in the most unimaginable way. Pope Francis worked as a bouncer and janitor before joining the Jesuits. Harrison Ford was 34 and still working as a full-time carpenter before starring in his first major movie (Star Wars). Jeff Bezos left behind a lucrative Wall-Street job to create Amazon at 31. It all starts with the passion and effort you put into that change.
It’s not an easy process, so, for the ones willing to make such a change here are some tips that helped me figuring out the career change I was seeking. Ideally, with the help of a career coach try to do the following:
Be honest with yourself
Ask yourself the question “who the hell am I and what the hell am I doing here?” When making the decision of changing my career, I eventually looked up into my boss and the all the major C-suite executives and asked myself: “Do you want to be in that role in the future?” The answer was NO, at least not in that job. So if at that point in time, I didn’t see myself in that role, I was in the wrong place man. I needed a change.
Look inside you and dream of all of the possible things you can do:
If you don’t want to be in your current job and are not quite sure what to do, dig up all of your interests, contacts, and experiences and picture yourself in completely different jobs/careers, without worrying if it would be possible to actually make that switch. In my case, I eventually pictured myself working as a history teacher, business consultant, ad agency creative, writer, tour guide, among many other seemingly unrelated career possibilities. What are YOUR career possibilities?
Find a common ground and refine:
What’s common between these possibilities you see for yourself? Is it the work/life balance? The possibility to work from home? The opportunity to work on major consulting projects? For me, it was mostly 4 things: a passion for my country, passion for the travel industry, passion for developing businesses and the willingness to work by myself. That led me to pick up a career as an entrepreneur in the travel & tourism sector. Rootfarers was born.
If necessary, compromise:
You’ll eventually understand that although your dream job is to manufacture root beer, that vision simply isn’t possible for a multitude of reasons: You need a huge amount of investment capital, the industry you wanna join is struggling or surprisingly root beer was just classified as an illegal You may need to compromise. Find the sweet spot between your dream job and what’s actually attainable. Success is a journey and it might be that in the long term you will actually work on your dream job (Root beer?)
Start working towards that goal:
Picture yourself in that job. What will you do? Behave like you’re already in that place: investigate, develop a prototype, run the math, think about your brand, ask questions and image yourself as the CEO of your company. At this point, you haven’t made the decision yet so this is not hard at all. Still, it’s an important step in your decision-making
Take a leap of faith with calculated risks:
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and jump. But before that, take a moment to look around and assess where you are and what you can do to protect yourself following the decision to change. Portugal today welcomes a bigger number of travelers than the number of its inhabitants, that fact alone led me to conclude that the travel industry could be an excellent place to leverage my work experience and the passion for my country. I’m jumping into a thriving industry, so at least I know I’m not making a blind decision, I’ve measured my risks. Measure your own risks and protect yourself before jumping right in: Close your eyes, take a deep breath and jump (with calculated risks).
Hold your ground:
If you want to thrive, you need drive. Hard times will come by, you will make mistakes and the “naysayers” are always lurking at your door. In order to cope with all that, you need drive, otherwise you will fall and never stand up again. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 5 rules for success puts it quite simply: You’ve got to have 22-inch biceps!
I’ve just recently made the decision to change my life. Getting from product manager to our guide/travel professional is an unorthodox career change I reckon. However, I’m sure that my vision together with the passion for the traveling industry and my experience as a marketer, will help me succeed one way or the other. “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”, said Arthur Ashe.
Come and follow me on my journey by joining my tours!
Authentic experiences for authentic travelers