You guys! I am SO excited for today’s post. In the spirit of a new year and 2018 goals, I wanted to do a post all about making career pivots. One thing I love about working in the wellness world is just how much you can do with your registered dietitian-nutritionist credentials, and today I’m thrilled to feature Katie Proctor, MBA, RDN of Wellevation. Her work of helping others elevate their businesses is so inspiring, and I love her down-to-earth attitude. When thinking about who to interview about how to navigate a career pivot, she was my first thought—this lady has been there, done that! She’s also helped others chart their own course. She was kind enough to answer my questions and share her story and her wisdom. I hope you get as much out of this as I did!
Jess: How did your career path lead you to where you are today?
Katie: My career path has been anything but traditional. I started my first company – All Access Internships – when I was still an undergrad out of my own frustration with the dietetic internship application process. After landing my own internship, graduating and passing the RD exam I started working for a global PR agency where I refined my skills in writing and communications strategy for a variety of clients. I fell in love with consumer packaged goods (brands you find at the grocery store) and transitioned to an in-house social media role at General Mills where I represented what were at the time their only two organic brands. During this time, I went back to school to get my MBA in the evening while working full-time with the goal of transitioning to a broader brand management role, which I secured at a smaller natural foods start-up less than a year into my program. One common thread in my career progression is that it continues to be built entirely on relationships. This proved to be particularly important because I didn’t want to be a dietitian who happened to know about marketing, but I wanted to be seen as a true marketer who was also a dietitian.
J: When did you know it was time for a career pivot?
K: What many people don’t see as outsiders to the natural foods industry is that it’s very volatile. I experienced a lot of transition working for both large and small companies, and ultimately felt that my career wasn’t in my own hands. After graduating with my MBA, there was that looming question of “what’s next”. While I initially thought I wanted to continue climbing the corporate ladder, I started a side hustle out of necessity (you know, grad school loans). I quickly became so much more fascinated by growing my own venture that I knew it was time for me to go all in and revisit my entrepreneurial roots. I am now a full-time business owner where I bring all the skills and experiences I’ve acquired throughout my diverse career to my influencer and brand clients at Wellevation HQ.
J: What surprised you about the process?
K: When I initially made the transition, I started with a steady freelance gig building a brand from scratch with two of my favorite recipe and healthy living bloggers. However, steady doesn’t always translate to equal pay as a steady corporate job! I think what surprised me then and continues to surprise me now is the misunderstanding that you need to have it all figured out to make the leap or that you need to completely duplicate your income right away. I was at a point where I couldn’t keep the tension of my full-time job going while building a high quality business, and something had to give. But I hear so many entrepreneurs starting out expecting 6 figures right away and that’s not the reality for most, and it sure wasn’t for me.
J: What are some of the most common struggles you see people face during a career pivot or transitional time?
K: The biggest challenge I see is getting distracted by what everyone else is doing. This can be in terms of how you structure your business, products/services you offer, the food or nutrition philosophy you choose to endorse, the marketing tactics you use, and so much more. I hear this called “shiny object syndrome” and many new entrepreneurs do not trust their gut or instincts that actually are the key to making them successful. They think someone else has the answer but truthfully any time I followed “someone else” I ended up with something mediocre instead of amazing. Ironically, the book “Pivot” saved me as a business owner which I have raved to you about!
J: What roles do you think food and fitness play in navigating a transitional time?
K: Food and fitness can be anchors to help ground you during a time of transition. Especially working for yourself when everything seems uncertain and your schedule is anything but predictable. I’ve heard someone refer to entrepreneurs as athletes and I think that’s true in a lot of cases. If you lack energy from poor habits, it’s going to show in your creativity, motivation and so much more. For me, that’s been cutting back on drinking because I’m so much more clearheaded and leaving my house to go to they gym or exercise outside 3-4 times a week. I do not make daily exercise a rule, because honestly that just does not work for me!
J: What are some ways people can fit in self-care even when they feel their time and/or money may be limited?
K: First, it’s important to define self-care for the individual. Self-care can be as simple as saying no to a meeting that isn’t in alignment with your goals. It can be listening to your favorite song, snuggling with your dog (seriously, I take daily hug breaks!), writing out your to-do list for the next day because it will help you feel more organized, flipping through a few pages of a magazine for inspiration. Self-care somehow became associated with spa-like activities and while those may be enjoyable for some, it’s not really a full picture of self-care. To me, self-care means protecting your energy however you can.
J: What’s your go-to meal or snack when you need to feel energized and productive?
K: I love having two eggs with green chili and one or two slices of toast in the morning plus a cup of coffee. A hot breakfast at home was not a luxury I enjoyed when commuting 2+ hours a day so I relish in it now! I truly believe starting slow works for me and I almost always sleep until at least 7 if not 8am. This was another issue I had to get over when I became an entrepreneur because I thought I needed to start working by a certain time! Sometimes, I will get to work right away or get up early if I have a major deadline but more often than not 9 or 10am works for me. I don’t measure my productivity by the amount of time I’m sitting in a chair in front of my computer!
J: What do you do when you need to hit the reset button?
K: Besides sleep, my immediate source of happiness is always being outside. I’ll take mini breaks to go sit in the hammock when it’s nice outside, throw the ball for my dog or go for a quick walk around the block. Sometimes even just taking a call outside or working on my laptop on my patio makes me feel refreshed. Of course, this is a little more difficult in the winter but luckily Denver has pretty mild weather and sunny days mostly year-round.
J: Do you have any advice for someone considering making a big change in their career?
K: Done is better than perfect! Seriously.
Thank you, Katie!!!
Have you ever gone through a big career pivot?
This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.