Jane Stein is President of Your Franchise Is Waiting, a consultancy firm which helps people in various stages of reinvention discover the possibilities offered by business ownership through franchising. She shares her somewhat bumpy ride from corporate financial services to self-employment and why she loves nothing more than helping people get out from under the corporate shackles.
I was a senior VP of Investments and Certified Financial Planner with Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley) for more than 20 years in Houston, Texas. I got married at 35 to my 42-year-old husband and cranked out two adorable boys – time was a wasting afterall. When you have a full time stressful job (is there one that isn’t?) it truly takes a village. We relied heavily on the kindness of not only strangers but also family and hired help.
Our second child was all of 4 weeks old when I felt that something wasn’t right. He didn’t make eye contact (when he nursed!) and seemed to be in perpetual motion. I knew he had autism. This was 1997, and autism was just starting to be on the radar, as opposed to the full blown epidemic it has since become. Being the kind of person who believes “everything worth doing is worth overdoing,” I jumped into overdrive and surfed the internet until 2 am every morning researching every possible intervention known to man. We did gluten- and casein-free diets, sound therapy, supplements, skin brushing, as well as the traditional speech, occupational, and “floor play” interventions. By this point, my son was living in the back seat of my car and therapists’ offices. Needless to say, it was a crazy ride. Not so great for the marriage either, which is another story.
Should I stay or should I go?
Then along came 9/11 and after struggling to get out of bed for six months, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I realized that I was seriously burned out and had not enjoyed what I had been doing for years. I was tired of the same conversations day in and day out and wasn’t learning anything new. I felt that crushing feeling of “is this all there is?” and of life being fleeting. I wanted to spend whatever time remained raising my own children (at this point, we had two full-time nannies) and living in a place where they could play outside without being covered by mosquito bites from head to toe in minutes. We researched various cities that met our criteria (should be safe and have clean air and water, an educated community, and four seasons) around the country. We assessed our financial picture and where we could cut back, and took a leap of faith. We relocated the family to Boulder, Colorado, which had good public schools and more than its fair share of quirky kids. I figured mine would fit right in.
There’s only a few times in your life you will experience your soul talking to you. It’s tricky because it doesn’t come from a thinking place. Sometimes it goes against what you think you want. Those times are gifts – your soul is never wrong. It will never steer you off course, in fact I believe it is pushing you TOWARD your course.
Cut to ten years later when my oldest was leaving for college, I began to feel restless and realized I was bored, bored, bored. Hiking, golfing, going to lunch with friends and volunteering did not fill me up.
I did some deep thinking and realized I:
- love working the way some people love weekends,
- need an organizing principle in my life: for me it’s work
- wanted to build another empire if I could – I missed the challenge.
- missed having discretionary income to be more generous in my philanthropy and, let’s be honest, to spend.
There’s more I could say, but at age 58 I did a lot of research and exploration of various career options and eventually relaunched – as a franchise broker.
I work from home connecting people in transition into businesses that are a good match for them based on their investment parameters, skill sets, and income and lifestyle objectives. Walking people through the steps of reinvention is very rewarding.
“There’s only a few times in your life you will experience your soul talking to you. It’s tricky because it doesn’t come from a thinking place. Sometimes it goes against what you think you want. Those times are gifts – your soul is never wrong. It will never steer you off course, in fact I believe it is pushing you TOWARD your course.”
I love learning about new business concepts every day. I get to try to connect people to their dreams of self-employment and hopefully open the door to what will be their future financial security and the satisfaction that comes from “steering your own ship.” Now I help people invest in themselves, instead of managing their passive investments, and it’s much more exciting and empowering for them.
This is a business I can do from anywhere there is a phone line and an internet connection. There’s no reason I won’t do this well into old age.
Stepping past the fear
Personal reinvention is hard. Things have to be pretty miserable for you to overcome the hurdle of inertia and fear. But there can be great reward in taking the leap. Transitions are a part of life. Most of us will experience quite a few in our lifetime. The best ones are the ones you initiate yourself. It’s a great feeling to chart a new course. In facing your fears, ask yourself – in a year, will my situation improve if I do nothing? If the answer is no, you and I both know what the right move is.
When I decided to leave the financial services industry, I woke up every morning feeling free. After a while, that feeling was replaced with a sense of adventure. I was going to reinvent myself – again. Investing in a business is a bold move. But it just might be the right move. And remember, women make great entrepreneurs!