Life Truths 20 Years Later

January 10, 1997 to be exact, I landed in Toronto from Vancouver. It was a brutal snowy day but I was on fire with excitement to start the next chapter of my career. I had been hired as the Beauty Editor at Chatelaine, the biggest magazine in Canada at the time. And now, as I prepare to move my home base back to Vancouver this week, I realize that the attitude I brought with me 20 years ago is the exactly the same. (The haircut is pretty close too – just all blonde!)

My 1996 head shot. Photography Cindy Sommerfield

My move across the country was a huge deal to me back then. I came by myself. I had a u00a0handful of friends. Chatelaine was owned by Rogers Publishing – it was my first serious corporate job. I worked at home and now I would be in a big office with hundreds of people. I wasn’t sure what to expect from work, Toronto or my personal life. Here are the top five things I vowed when I first made the move – and they all apply today as I make the career transition back to the West Coast.u00a0

ONE – Succeed at any cost. I didn’t make the decision to give up my freelance career lightly. I researched Chatelaine and met with Rona Maynard, its celebrated Editor-in-Chief. I was going to make my new job a success if it meant working around the clock. I vowed to love my job, my co-workers, new friends, the snow, my apartment, the subway as much as I adored my hometown of Vancouver. And I did, without reservation.

TWO – Listen to your instincts. I had a really good feeling about Rona and Chatelaine. I knew that I would learn a lot from this insightful woman. (More on her in another post – she was a brilliant mentor.) And after ten years working freelance on my own, I needed to learn how to work with others in a bigger environment if I wanted to achieve my career dream of being an Editor-in-Chief. My gut told me that this was the right move at the right time.u00a0

THREE – Just say YES. As I was getting to know Toronto, I accepted all invitations and met a variety of different people. At work, I embraced projects outside of my responsibilities (beauty coverage) and was quickly promoted. I made friendships that I still have today. I learned new skills that benefitted my career down the line. And my network set me up for future successes.u00a0

My best Blue Steel look in 1996

A quick note about the treasured (and hilarious) photo above that I found while packing up my Toronto condo last week. Twenty years ago, I taught modelling at John Casablancas Institute in Vancouver. We were goofing around pretending to be supermodels, and fell on the floor laughing afterwards. So much fun! Needless to say, modelling was never a career goal!

FOUR – Be prepared. My former Girl Guide years set me up for success with the move. I didn’t just jump off a cliff and pray for a safe landing. I did my research. I saved some money. I cultivated supportive friendships and strong mentors. I lobbied hard for a great role at the strongest magazine in the country. I took a lot of calculated risks and looked after myself.

FIVE – You got this. Never once did I lose faith in myself about the move. I had the confidence that I would be successful. I forced myself to go out and network even when all I wanted to do was jump on a plane and visit my friends and family. I wasn’t going to give up and move back with my tail between my legs. Failure never occurred to me.u00a0

20 years later, I’m heading back to Vancouver – and will travel back and forth to Toronto for work and social events. I have too many wonderful friends and work colleagues to leave behind. I’ve followed all five of my own tips. I sold my treasured Toronto home and have embraced self-employment with the same energy and passion as I had twenty years ago. And it feels great – it’s 1996 all over again. Older, wiser and just as happy.