For six years I spent my morning commute to work counting yellow school buses. My daughter had been obsessed with them since she was tall enough to see out the backseat passenger window.
I honestly didn’t understand her fascination with them. To me, school buses were slow, smelled like somebody’s abandoned gym locker and weren’t very safe (our school system’s buses didn’t have seat belts). There was no denying how her face lit up whenever she saw one though, so we made it a game to excitedly point them out and count them on the way to drop her off at daycare.
My daughter’s interest in yellow school buses didn’t wane by the time she started elementary school. In fact, the obsession only grew stronger. Every day she begged and pleaded to take that yellow school bus home, and every day I had to say no. I spent my workday in a corporate office until 5:30 p.m. or later. I was never home when the bus would have dropped her off after school.
This went on for several years. By that time in my life, I had spent 15 years investing myself in a six-figure corporate career. By every measure of my non-entrepreneurial family and friends, it was a very successful career. I had taken the traditional path I was supposed to, the path I was told was the defacto standard of success.
Yes, I followed the progression of bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and MBA right on up the corporate ladder. But instead of feeling a sense of achievement and happiness, every rung up the ladder only seemed to take me one step further away from who I really was and what (and who) I truly loved.
The truth was, my corporate job left me feeling stressed and empty. As a way to cope, I became an addict, but not to drugs or alcohol. No, I was addicted to buying domain names. I bought hundreds of domains, and I spent hours dreaming up ways I could use them.
I was dissatisfied with my job, and I found myself I spending more and more time doing something I did enjoy – digital marketing. Late nights and early mornings were spent helping everyone I could grow their businesses online.
I spent more and more time trying to balance it all, trying to maintain the corporate life and still feed my creativity and professional drive. I stopped sleeping and consumed far too much caffeine. Thankfully, somewhere in the middle of that I found my momentum and the spark my life had been missing. Digital marketing was my “yellow school bus”.
Digital marketing brought me joy, and I realized it was something I wanted to do every day. But how could I leave a six-figure job without putting my family or my finances at risk? I didn’t yet have the courage to follow a non-traditional career path. I didn’t know if I ever would.
I’ll never forget the day that all changed. It was just another normal day at work. I was in the middle of another waste-of-time morning meeting. As usual, I took out my phone and bought another two domains, fthemeeting.com and fthejob.com. For a moment I just sat there, staring through the people around me. How did I get here? I wondered. How have I ended up feeling so empty and disconnected from the life I really want to live?
In that moment, I knew I needed a change, and I made up my mind. I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. Although I wasn’t yet sure how it would look or what I would do, there was one thing I did know: my daughter was riding that yellow school bus home today.
I left work early that day, early enough to meet my daughter as she stepped off the bus at the bus stop. I took a picture of her the moment she stepped off that yellow school bus and captured her running full speed towards me, smile as wide as a mile, hair streaming behind her. My daughter’s dream had come true.