The Best Advice I Ever Received About Changing Jobs

I’d been CEO of Ogilvy PR for two years having sold my PR firm into the group. I was feeling stale and wanted a change. But I did not have the courage to quit, fearing a life of selling bananas on street corners if I left my current security for the great unknown. And then a wise man gave me some advice. I quit next day. This is what he told me.

I was reminded of this story while having breakfast recently with a dynamic software and gaming industry leader who recently decided to leave that career and start afresh.

He was frenetic in analyzing his recent career, and on what he thought he’d do next. I stopped him after the first coffee. “Focus entirely on the future, but don’t get fixated about having absolute clarity about what you want to do next. Rather, follow this critical piece of advice that was given to me once. It will ensure you make the right decision.”

Relax- What you do next will become apparent.

Have the courage to ‘make yourself available’ to new ideas and opportunity.

When you know you need a change, or when it is forced upon you, have confidence that the right opportunity will evolve. Embark on a process of conversations. Have as many conversations as you can, with people in various companies and industries. Talk about your passions. Talk about theirs. Talk about their challenges and business issues. Keep an open mind.

Allow yourself the freedom to explore. Have courage that what you do next will become apparent- it will become obvious to you at some point, and it might well not be what you would have expected.

So What Happened To Me?

I quit the next day (gave notice), and started having conversations. One was a casual update on a boat with STW CEO Mike. We knew each other a bit – prior to becoming STW CEO, he had represented (as one of his many STW responsibilities) STW’s interest as a minority shareholder in my business and the Ogilvy PR businesses I managed.

“You’re leaving Ogilvy hey, “ he mused. “Perfect! I have a big challenge at STW. I need to evolve STW from being a passive investment holding company, into a genuine, value adding parent company. I need to do it fast, and I need the right partner to help me do it. And now you are suddenly ‘available’. Why not join STW as Chief Operating Officer and help me and the team revolutionize this business?” And so it came to pass…. Could I have planned that move or role? Was it even on my radar? No. It just became apparent that that was obviously the right next step and what I was meant to do.

And Here’s A Gem Of A Story- Read This!

An Ogilvy colleague quit to seek fresh pastures. I was having coffee with him the day he announced he was leaving. “What will you do?” I asked. “Not sure”, he said. I am working on clarity around that.” So I told him the story of ‘what you do next will become apparent.’

I did not see him for five years. We bumped in to each other at the kids’ rugby one Saturday morning. “What did you end up doing?” I asked. “I started a business with some partners, and then this evolved to form another business- which is going gang busters.” “That’s great,” I replied. “What’s it called?”

His reply: ”You should know that. You told me what it would be called.” “Huh?” I replied, perplexed. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you told me what I did next would become apparent. So when what I did next evolved into another business, the name was obvious…. ” And so it came to pass. Check it out

Make The Grass Greener on This Side Of The Fence

One final point. Always, when you feel stale and want a change, try first to make the grass greener on this side of the fence. In other words, are there changes you can make within your role or company that could create the next right step for you?


Oh- and a big thanks to Rob Irving for the sage advice five years ago. It helped me change my life and has given me the best job in the world!

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12 Responses to The Best Advice I Ever Received About Changing Jobs

  1. Kate Lightfoot May 30, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Great post, Chris. Reminds me of a quote I’ve always loved:

    “Leap and the net will appear.”

    I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never had the guts to do it myself…but the first step to recovery is recognising you have a problem, right? 😉

    • Chris Savage May 30, 2012 at 9:57 am #

      You sure are right Kate!

  2. Carl Sherriff May 30, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Reassuring observation Chris, thanks. I too have had brilliant advice from Rob Irving when moving from agency life to corporate storyteller. Thanks & Cheers, Carl.

  3. Eliane Morel May 30, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Your words of advice have really struck a chord in many ways over the last few months. As a result of one of them in particular, I’ve decided to seriously follow my long held passion for opera singing. In that post you talked about finding what it is you’re both passionate about and great at, and turning that over in my mind, I realised that I had to make a go of what I am truly good at. At a mini-concert I gave recently, an audience member, quite spontaneously, said after my first song, ‘That’s amaaazing!’ And I realised that’s what I want – to amaze and to thrill and to move people – and no matter how good my presentations are, they will never be as good as that!

    So this most recent post is really very timely, as my last day is this Friday.

    Thinking about the conversations I’ve had in the past few months, it’s really quite wonderful how supportive people are, and how engaged they are with you when you reveal who you truly are. So thanks, every one of your words today rings true.

    • Chris Savage May 31, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Eliane- wow…that is amazing feedback. I am humbled that my silly stories- begged, borrowed, stolen from wiser minds- have been of value to you. Thank you, and good luck with it. Chris

  4. Gary May 30, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    I think you’re spot on and this certainly goes for taking the leap and starting your own thing too.

    Nothing ventured, Nothing gained.

  5. PauL Spon-Smith May 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    Really like the latest WWP article: I never focused on making the “grass greener on the inside” of my business before (thought it more relevant to building a lasting personal relationship!) but of course your so right.
    After 35 years of selling furniture (terminally boring) my blue sky is now on-line education and furniture.
    Ironic how big problems give birth to big opportunities for big thinkers.
    See you over the garden fence.

    • Chris Savage May 31, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks Paul- appreciate the continued interest, and feedback!

  6. Adrienne Tan May 31, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Love your words. They resonate well with me. I am constantly ‘free falling’ and have enjoyed the ride so far…

    This is exactly how brainmates was born.

  7. Rhonda Chapman June 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’m about to embark on a very tough journey – I will complete my postgrad at the end of the year and I have no idea where to start with finding work in Perth in the field. I’m worried, although I know I can do it. I fear the fiece competition to try and get a foot in the door.


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