It’s Susan here. I’m excited to introduce you to one of my clients, Kamael Sugrim. I feel lucky to get to coach a number of entrepreneurs, and she is one of them. Kamael reminds me that many of us professionals, particularly women, are used to organizing our lives through our accomplishments. But then, a moment comers (or a slew of them) and we realize that defining ourselves by what we’ve ticked off on the “to-do” list doesn’t feel fulfilling. We begin to seek fulfillment, that sense that the meaning of our actions makes us feel full, in mind, body, and spirit. It’s a delight to see what Kamael is creating. I invite you to check out the amazing way she’s reaching out to stem poverty through an innovative use of technology with www.mPoweringFoundation.org. Congratulations, Kamael, and thank you for making a difference in the lives of others!
And now, for some words from Kamael…
I’ve spent the last 15 years working to methodically and meticulously cross off the things I don’t want to do in my career. First there was consulting – that one quickly bit the dust. Then there was finance – which lasted a good 5 years. When I was offered a more senior role in investment industry that bored me to sleep at my desk, I rapidly completed 6 business school applications and ran off to the West Coast to “hone my skills.” Then I graduated and went into marketing in the tech industry. I thought that was very interesting, but after 5 years, I still found myself itching to get out and do something that felt like it came from my core.
Instead of searching for my next venture while chained down to the existing one, I quit corporate America and took a few months off to really learn how to listen to who I was – not develop – but just listen. Susan and I worked for several months on this together and, as a result, I have a much better understanding of what gives me positive energy. I liked Susan’s style because it incorporated a completely different way of looking at my future and myself. We didn’t start off making lists of skills, or companies to talk to, or even action plans. Sure, I eventually did those things. But Susan starts by guiding you to listen to your body and understand the feelings that run through you in different situations.
I’m a person who can’t stand yoga, falls asleep in meditation and thinks that chanting is for monks. But with Susan, I felt comfortable enough to “shake my stress off,” learn new breathing exercises, and more importantly be in tune with what my mind and body are telling me. Susan’s own energy level is so positive and her approach so comfortable, that I found myself completely engaged and excited for our sessions!
My favorite exercise has been making a list of Drains and Gains as part of maximizing my ROLE, my Return On Life Energy. That’s something that I still keep in my wallet and refer to often. I listed all the things that drained me – inauthentic people, boring work, alongside all the things that gave me energy – working with smart people, helping others. When I’m faced with choices on where to take my life, I look at this list and see how those choices stack up against what makes me happy. It’s like having a new pair of glasses that allows me to see things I’ve never seen before.
Living in Silicon Valley, I’m surrounded by some of the most exciting opportunities, but I’ve learned just because they are exciting to others, that doesn’t mean they will be exciting to me. By truly understanding what makes me tick, I can make decisions about my career that are about what I like and want to do vs. the trial and error method I used for the last 15 years. It’s even stretched into my personal life. I find myself confidently recognizing and moving away from people and situations that drain my energy level and ultimately make me unhappy.
Earlier this year, I decided to put my passion for helping people together with my love for technology and start a nonprofit – mPowering. mPowering creates mobile applications and builds programs that empower the world’s poor – those living on less than $2 a day – to break the cycle of poverty they live in. I work twice the hours I did in corporate America, make half the salary, but am the happiest I have ever been in my life. Every morning I wake up knowing that I’ve stayed true to myself and am doing the things I love. My career journey isn’t over – a life journey is one that never ends. But I now have this new navigation system – understanding my life energy – and I’m confident that I can lead myself down the rights paths in life. It’s very empowering.
If you would like to follow my and mPowering’s transformative journey, check out our blog at www.mpoweringfoundation.org/blog.
-Kamael Ann Sugrim
Co-founder and CEO, mPowering