5Q Friday profiles women who took a leap of faith career wise to start their own business and create the life they wanted. This week Caroline Ceniza-Levine shares her story.
1.) Who are you?
I am a 40-year old extreme career changer – from classical pianist trained at Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music to management consultant to executive recruiter to actor to corporate HR director to entrepreneur. I’m also a wife of 18 years to my high school prom date and a mother of two daughters, ages 16 and 10. I’m also a real estate investor, stand-up comedian with Comic Diversity, and devoted Pilates fan.
2.) What’s your business?
I have several businesses. I am the co-founder of SixFigureStart® which provides career coaching by former Fortune 500 recruiters. Our mission is to give help our clients building fulfilling and financially rewarding careers by sharing our inside knowledge of how the hiring process really works and what employers really want.
I am also a founding member of Comic Diversity, a comedy troupe which produces its own shows in NYC. Finally, I collaborate on select projects relating to my interest in all things career. For example, I’m co-teaching a Skillshare class on Resilience with Renita Kalhorn, peak performance coach who works with Navy SEAL candidates.
3.) When did you decide to take the plunge and “create the life you want”?
Being an entrepreneur is my jumping in with both feet to create the life I want. I left my corporate career in 2007 to launch SixFigureStart®. However, in a way, I’ve been creating my ideal life with all of my moves – leaving piano for consulting, leaving consulting for recruiting, leaving full-time recruiting to act for several years. Right before starting SixFigureStart® I was acting, and I had a flexible full-time recruiting job with a major media company. In some ways, that was ideal because I had the cushion of a fun “money job” but also the creativity of my acting projects. However, to have more control over the balance of when I focus on what, I really needed to start my own business. If I remained an employee of another business, I would always need to think about how to best represent my employer. Now, I represent myself, and I blog for Forbes.com, appear on CBS and CNN, get quoted in major media, stay active in social media, and I can do this as myself.
4.) Why do you love it?
I love being able to focus on what I love to do and see the results of what I’m building. SixFigureStart® is 6 times bigger in revenues than when we started. It has replaced my corporate salary and then some. It’s very gratifying to know that I can build that and craft my time to include my family, comedy, other interests and friends.
5.) What’s one piece of advice you have for anyone thinking of taking the leap?
In my work as a career coach, I often see people waiting for that one lightning bolt of inspiration to tell them that this ONE THING surely is the path to follow. But creating your ideal life is messier than that. It’s one step at a time, it’s not a straight line, and it includes frustrating, confusing times where you question yourself. But if you don’t get started, everything stays hypothetical. I would get started on one small thing. I would focus less on a LEAP and more on a STEP. It’s a myth that there is a giant jump you HAVE to make. Oftentimes, you can move to your ideal life gradually.
-Contributed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine. Learn more about SixFigureStart®.
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