Archive for June, 2011

Own your confidence

Today we’ll start with a story. I call it my “Why am I putting all my creative energy into non-life-changing work for the company store” conundrum. (Yes, that is a reference to “16 Tons”.)

Truth be told, I’ve been working for other people my entire life. I was raised on a farm and as soon as I was capable of helping out, I did. I started working in restaurants when I turned 16, and all through college I continued to work as a server. Upon graduation, I took a job managing a big-box store and later worked for an entrepreneur.

Now, I don’t know if you were fed the line that if you do well in high school, you get into a good college which will, in time, secure your future with a good job. That’s what I was raised to believe. And I do think that it’s true for quite a few people. However, for me, it didn’t pan out that way.

The job at the big-box store was my safety job – the job that I’d accept if none other came through. In the spring of 2005, after interviewing with 15 to 20 companies between MInnesota and Wisconsin, nothing else came through. I was devastated. I couldn’t understand how my hard work hadn’t paid off. It didn’t make sense. I had a great GPA, strong recommendation letters and a great community service record.

I took the big-box job. Like any other job it had it’s ups and downs. But the hardest part was no matter how hard I tried to whole-heartedly respect the company I worked for – the company who had given me a job when no one else would – I just couldn’t. After working all sorts of crazy, odd, long hours, I left. And I had nothing much to show for it.

A few months later, I landed a part-time internship with a local entrepreneur. It grew into a full-time, career-ish job. For several years I worked on a few really great projects, particularly the Altoona Star. Then I was moved to the Iso-Tip project, and while it certainly had it’s great moments, it was not a project I was throughly interested in. And it showed.

With my employment terminated in May 2010, I began to desperately question the logic of working hard for a company that could simply dismiss you at any time. (This isn’t to say my termination wasn’t justified – it was. I was not the right fit for marketing a soldering iron/heat tool business and had zero interest in becoming an expert on the subject.)

But before going out on my own, I gave thee ole j-o-b one more try. I started in at State Farm, thinking being an agent would be right up my alley. During my training a background check was run, and low and behold, I learned why I had had such a challenging time getting a job offer out of college. I had a few felonies on my background report THAT WEREN’T MINE.


Turns out there’s a few people around my age named Sara Ann Carlson (my maiden name). And not all of them happen to be law-abiding citizens.

At any rate, with this new-found knowledge my confidence in my abilities was renewed! Once again the world made sense. Of course companies weren’t going to hire someone A) With a few felonies, and B) Someone who they thought was not disclosing said felonies.

In other words, I had let an error in a database own my career path for six years.

I share this frustrating career history with you so that you don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t let other people’s errors determine your options. This is your life. Own it.

Who owns your confidence?

Do something crazy!

Oh, go on…do something crazy! It won’t kill you right? That’s the thought that I had while waiting for my turn on the World’s Scariest Skycoaster – the Royal Rush Skycoaster – a skycoaster 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River.

But after doing Sky Dive Las Vegas, I simply could not let this opportunity pass me by! Who knew when I’d ever be back out at the Royal Gorge? After a phone call to Brian to muster up my courage and send all my love, I did this.


And it. was. AWESOME!

At first you’re in a free-fall drop and then all of the sudden you’re swinging out at 50 mph into the Royal Gorge. The view is STUNNING! You can see for miles and miles. And after your first few swings over the gorge your fear turns into wonder and you realize that you are, in fact, safe – or as safe as you can be swinging 1,200 feet above a river. What can I say? Some risks are worth taking.

Have you done anything crazy lately?