End of an era.
Many people wish they could start over. Career redirection or career reinvention is popular with job seekers but scary at the same time.
Note: this post was originally published in December 2009. I originally wrote it as a reminder to me of changes I made in my life. In addition, it is proof that you can change direction and still win.
Did you ever end something on purpose? I made a decision this past week (December 2009) that will change my world. I resigned as Wausau Whitewater’s Operations Manager, a position I held since 1997.
Wausau Whitewater was my passion but it is an end of an era
It’s the whitewater course in downtown Wausau, Wisconsin hosting regional, national, and international slalom and freestyle whitewater competitions and provided fun and training to thousands of people.
I played a part in two World Cups and numerous US Junior and Senior Team Trials. I watched the organization move into a bigger focus of something for everyone. We refocused on running our own recreational releases in 2009 (people play for $10 plus ACA fees per day) and adding Basic Whitewater Training to those releases.
The only staff member
For this entire time from 1997 to 2009, I was the only staff member, working under Wausau Kayak /Canoe Corporation’s non-profit Board of Directors to execute all of our programs. My role has been marketing, customer service, registration, event management, public relations, web content development, vendor negotiations, program development, sponsor development, advertising sales, and all-around gopher.
I wrote, created, and distributed marketing information, such as the annual program. We figured out how to create an electronic format this year. In 2009, I merged my two worlds when I asked Dawn Bugni, a fellow career professional to help proof my sponsorship copy. I then hired her as a copywriter to edit the articles for the book.
Met people from all over the world
In this role, I met people from all over the world, including Olympians like Joe Jacobi and Eric Jackson (EJ). Joe was back in person to coach our training camp this summer. We visited over dinner at Michael’s Supper Club, a meal we had planned on Twitter.
Joe was Director of USA Canoe & Kayak, leading the national organization. Joe and his family reinvented themselves, moving to Spain. Today he has a new mission as a Performance Coach.
EJ is well-known for his amazing world freestyle champion moves. He was also a frequent visitor to Wausau with his family during the pro rodeo days. Now EJ runs Jackson Kayak, the fastest growing boat design manufacturer in the world.
I met Casey Eichfeld (photo above) when he was 9. Casey is still competing at the Olympic level, represented the United States in three Olympics (Beijing, London, and Rio de Janeiro), and is gearing up for Tokyo in Summer 2020. Casey’s been to meals here twice, once with his dad, Steve, in 2010 and again in 2012 with Joe Jacobi, Joe’s daughter, Seu, as well as another Olympian.
I’ve also added to my friend base.
The President in 2009, Michael Schroeder, a contemporary Christian musician when not leading Wausau Whitewater, became my friend since we met on the river about 10 years ago. This past year, despite the worst possible economy, Wausau Whitewater thrived because we used creative strategies that Mike suggested to keep us going.
The whole paddling community enriched my life. I know my Facebook community has a large group of paddlers that I have come to know and love.
In 2010, Wausau Whitewater hosts the USACK Junior and Senior Team Trials. This sets the stage for PreWorlds in 2011 and the 2012 ICF Slalom Canoe Junior World Championships as well as the normal line-up of two to three other events, four or five training clinics, and 10 to 13 recreational releases.
So why am I resigning? Why is it End of an era?
I founded Design Resumes in 1983 as a side business when I was a Property Manager. Later, I went fulltime in 1987 when a transfer to Illinois in property management didn’t work out and we came back to Wausau.
In 1991, my father-in-law suggested I interview for a contracted administrative coordinator position with the Kiwanis Club of Wausau. In 1997, he again suggested I interview for what became my Operations Manager contract with Wausau Whitewater.
Along the way, I supported two other non-profits with QuickBooks financial recording and reporting. My own business was growing but being stifled at the same time. I thought if I dropped contracts, it might help. So in 2003, I dropped 2 QuickBooks contracts. In 2008, I resigned from Kiwanis. But the energy I put into those other things, quickly transferred not to Design Resumes, but to Wausau Whitewater.
the Design Resumes website
Mike did encourage me to launch the older Design Resumes website in January 2009 and that made a dramatic change in my business. For the first time, I market to and work with clients from all over the United States. I’ve learned and grown in social media since the fall of 2007.
Social media definitely changed who I reach and communicate with on a daily basis using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and this blog. (The website was redesigned with a WordPress theme in 2010 and Raul Colon of Limonade redesigned the website in 2018.)
I spent well over 30 days on the water.
That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, make that on the river bank, under a tent, running registration, operations, and event management. I have never been in a boat. I did get a great farmer tan, but that’s about it.
What do I want?
Throughout my journey in the career industry, I feel a deep sense of joy and satisfaction as I see my clients achieve their goals. Many goals I never achieved myself, such as focusing only on Design Resumes. Now I want to explore how all the initiatives with social media come together to promote my own business.
Perhaps I will explore more partnerships similar to the one I have with Jason Alba. I want to use marketing tools, like e-mail newsletters to my client base and build a follow-up system. In addition, I want to continue to grow, learn, dream, and enjoy the world around me.
I want to do fun things, like ride horses, maybe learn to paddle, travel, finish my house remodel, work in my garden, play with Teddy, read, and enjoy my friends and family. It would be great to have a little free time. I want to go to career industry conferences and get to know my wonderful colleagues.
Finally, I will miss Wausau Whitewater, this is the end of an era, but I have a new world ahead and I am so excited. I’ll keep you posted on how this new career journey of mine goes.
Eight and a half years later, I still love this post. It was such a journey to get to this point.
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