Feeling frustrated at work? Often dream of packing it all in and doing something you really love? Then let us introduce Naomi Oluleye, who left her job in 2017 to found the sell-out panel series The Power of Quitting. We sat down with Naomi to talk about how to conquer the fear, embrace change and build a successful career with a sense of purpose…
What inspired you to launch The Power of Quitting?
I was working at a company that I thought was the be-all and end-all – I really felt like I’d made it when I started there. I soon felt too settled and really uninspired – I began looking at people more senior than me and knew I didn’t want to be like them. I read this amazing book by Wendy Sachs called Fearless and Free. It talked about how careers aren’t relentessly upward trajectories; they can pivot and move in all sorts of directions. I always knew I wanted to do my own thing and so Sachs’ book, coupled with my increasing amount of freelance work, encouraged me to take the decision to leave my job once and for all.
How does it differ from other career platforms?
The Power of Quitting is all about narratives. All of my panels are led by real-life stories. They don’t gloss over the struggles. I hate the word ‘authentic’ – it’s such a buzzword – but I’m very selective about my panelists because they have to be real. They don’t say that if you do certain steps, then you will be exactly where you want to be; rather, they describe exactly what they’ve done and where they are now.
I’m not trying to better you in your career. The main stimulus of quitting is fear, a feeling of being stuck, so my aim is to better equip you to harness that fear. Until you work out what is going on, why and what exactly you are scared of, it’s very difficult to implement those other career tactics.
What’s the scariest thing about leaving your job?
Telling people! As soon as you announce that you’re quitting your job to do your own thing, you’re held accountable. You can’t really turn back once you’ve told people!
But I do really want to challenge the common-held notions of quitting and redefine the stereotypes. Quitting can actually be a positive thing if harnessed in the right way. It’s about acknowledging that something isn’t right for you and asking yourself what you’re going to do next.
What are your top tips for quitting your job?
Quitting shouldn’t be impulsive. You’ve got to know where you’re going before you do quit, so that’s where planning comes in. Reflect on why you are feeling frustrated at work. Is it because you’re not getting a pay rise or is there no clear sense of growth? Evaluate those problems and think about what you can do to solve them. What are the steps and the resources you can use? Is there an event or a newsletter you can subscribe to that will give you some necessary tools and motivation? There’s so many situations in which, until you plot things down, you won’t see how things can be any different.
What’s more, quitting shouldn’t always be about doing your own thing right away. You could be thinking that in 10 years’ time, you’d like to have your own business. A great way to achieve that would be to spend that period working at some of the best companies in that industry to acquire the necessary in-house experience, and then working at a start-up to learn the intricacies of building something from the ground up. It’s about quitting your current situation to better what you’re trying to do.
What do you wish you’d known then that you do now?
Trust your own instincts – I’m still learning to do this, but when you get that funny feeling and sense that something isn’t right, that’s because it probably isn’t!
Who are your favourite quitters?
Alex Holder, who was Executive Creative Director at Anomaly before taking up the role of Acting Content Director at Elle and then going freelance. Her article ‘The Joy of Quitting’ is amazing. It perfectly summarizes all the feelings you have when you first quit your job.
I also really admire Missy Flynn. She co-ran the bar and restaurant Rita’s in East London, but had to sell up. Her story is a really moving one – she had a great deal of success but still had to say goodbye to something she loved.
When I decided to quit my job, I went to a meditation class run by Jodie Shield, an intuitive mentor and ambassador at Lululemon. She worked in advertising, like me, and then quit to travel around South America. She returned to carve out a space as an amazing inspirational speaker. Her zeal for life is incredible!
What are your plans for 2018?
More events! I do a lot of panels for clients like Bumble Bizz – I’m currently planning the third installment of a four-part series. And to go international. Next stop New York!