The Real Reason I Quit My C-Suite Job

177491236Big power, privilege, influence and rewards.  Just four of the benefits of my role. So why did I quit four weeks ago, and walk away into a career ‘wilderness?’ What was the REAL reason I resigned? Okay- here’s the truth, and stuff the consequences.

I lived in Adelaide in my early 20s, in a house next to a very senior, 80 year old Anglican Church minister. He was about to have a major operation, and was nervous about it. I was chatting to him over the fence: “Oh well, if it goes wrong I guess you’ll find out whether what you’ve been banging on for about for 60 years is actually true!” To his credit, he saw the humour in it, and laughed.

That’s why I quit my job. I needed to ‘walk the talk.’ It was time to take my own medicine. Quite simply, I had to have the courage to take this one critical step. And I did.

I took the ‘exit’ door when I did not know where the stairs would take me.

Many people die in emergencies because they refuse to take the ‘exit’ door. They fear the uncertainty of where those stairs lead, and stay put. With the encouragement of family, I walked through it.

I had been editing selected previous Possums stories into a book. They reminded me of passionately felt advice I have encouraged readers to take. It was time for me to take my own counsel.

I was unhappy in my role. The learning and passion had slowed. For six years it had been the best role I’d ever had, and a privileged part of my career. I’m grateful for the opportunity. But it was time to move on. As I said in my previous Possums post, ‘there’s no growth in your comfort zone.’ I was cruising. I loved the monthly pay cheque, and the ‘pointy end’ pace. It was not enough. I had to walk through that exit door.

So I did.

I’m following my plan of having ‘100 cups of coffee.’ That’s a hundred meetings to just chat about business, life, the universe and everything. Twenty of those meetings will lead me to other conversations which will lead to the five key connections that deliver the perfect ’next step’ for me. I know what I do next ‘will become apparent.’  I have a clear direction, and know final clarity will evolve, and then appear. I have to be free and ‘available’ for the fullness of opportunity to emerge.

While I don’t know exactly where those stairs are going to take me, I do have absolute faith it will be to ‘safety.’ Mind you, it’s not all plain sailing. Read here my post on The Five Biggest Learnings I have had so far from quitting my job.

I’ve always been a massive fan of ‘making the grass greener on this side of the fence.’ Work hard to adjust a role to give it what is missing for you. If that’s not possible, don’t be a prisoner of cash flow, and fear. Not when you are unhappy. Have courage. Have faith. Of course make sure you plan carefully, particularly financially, and have contingencies in place. Then- take the ‘exit’ door. Good things WILL come from it.


, , , , , , , , ,

70 Responses to The Real Reason I Quit My C-Suite Job

  1. Christina March 25, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    ‘Don’t be a prisoner of cash flow, and fear’
    Love this!

  2. Sam March 25, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    Brilliant Chris, and congratulations. As you know, I took your advice over a year ago now and have never looked back. I feel so alive!

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

      Delighted for you, Sam!!

  3. Jen March 25, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Congratulations Chris. All the best.

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

      Thanks Jen!!

  4. Jeanie March 25, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    A very brave move!

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

      Fortune favours the brave!

  5. Margaret March 25, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Great post Chris! I know exactly how you feel. Good for you! I love the idea of 100 cups of coffee. I think I’ll adopt it. Good luck in the next stage! Looking forward to more Possums posts.
    So how did the Minister’s operation turn out?

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

      Thanks Margaret. He lived !

  6. Paula Gaber McNulty March 25, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    Presuming you won’t starve to death (!), I applaud your ‘move’. You have to change, venture into new territory, take risks to spark creativity and fulfill your talents. Congratulations on your move!

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

      Starving is not an option! Thanks Paula- hope you are well and happy. Chris

  7. David March 25, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Hey Chris, bravo for taking your own advice. But please don’t give up your blog in any new role, you have found a niche. In the spirit of continuous learning we need to be operating outside our comfort zone, that’s were the gold is to be found and I know myself to be guilty of this. Breaking through the barriers of fear and cashflow cover the two biggies for many of us.

    Taking a leaf out of Jim Collins’ principles, you might consider finding your next BHAG to guide you on your journey. Best of luck, just go for it, life is too short.

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      Thanks David- appreciated!! Chris

  8. David Sawicki March 25, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    thank you to a man who helped and assisted me with the opening of the exit door. it’s good on the other side. and i mean that with love as the care that you have showed comes back to you my friend…thank you

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      Thanks Dave- you’re the man! Chris

  9. Tony March 25, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    The day that I saw you had resigned my first word was fantastic! Throughout your posts over the last 6 months I felt you were certainly imparting great advice but there was also a distinct feeling that you weren’t quite happy. Having been through it myself, I was almost waiting for it to happen. Stepping into the unknown and doing the things that truly make you happy is invigorating. I’m looking forward to seeing the next giant leap.

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      Thanks Tony- appreciated! Chris

  10. Jennifer Ross March 25, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    Hi Chris
    Great post. You might find the “Planned Happenstance” approach interesting. Read more here:

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

      Thanks Jennifer. Appreciated. Chris

  11. Bruce Matchett March 25, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Great post mate.. I hope I’m one of those 100 cups of coffee x

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Bruce. Of course it will be! Will be in your town mid June xxx

  12. Richard Burrage March 25, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi Chris, Big FEAR to you. The acronym that is. Reflect on your staggering Accomplishments and Focus with new found Energy. You will rock it.

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Love it! Thanks Richard!

  13. Rambo March 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    Walking the talk is one of the most powerful and inspiring action you can take.
    During this ‘finding the perfect next step’ phase – can I suggest some travels?
    Pop over to Perth – instead of a coffee catch-up – let’s do lunch, my shout.
    All the best

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Aha! Tempting, Rambo.

  14. Lisette March 25, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Very timely for me to read this. Congrats on having the courage, instinct and passion to make the move!

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      Thanks Lisette!

  15. Karen March 25, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    I resigned last week – life is too short to be unhappy in a workplace – surviving a day is just not enough! Good luck Chris – looking forward to following your wisdom in the next stage of your journey.

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      Thanks Karen. Good luck to you!

  16. Phil March 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    It will become apparent Chris – but thats already taken…. Catch you soon.

    • Chris Savage March 25, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      True Phil. But how about Apparrentt?

  17. Eda March 25, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    As always, great post. I walked out on a job after reading Wrestling Possums and thought you might’ve done the same after reading The Long Road 🙂 I look forward seeing what’s ahead.

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 8:54 am #

      Good for you, Eda. See you at the next dinner. Chris

  18. Simon Wood March 25, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    Just done the same – although in my case wasn’t altogether voluntary – Frightening and exhilarating (perhaps more so at 50)- creating a new path with those “100 cups of coffee”and “not allowing oneself to be a prisoner of cash flow” – are great ways to remind me of the path and that it is the right and best way to go for me. Thanks for the post…….

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 8:54 am #

      Thanks Simon- good luck with the process. Chris

  19. holly March 25, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    Congratulations! First time I’ve replied but have been reading your posts back in London for 4 years and always get much needed inspiration. This was the right thing and I look forward to hearing where it takes you. Enjoy.

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 8:55 am #

      Holly- thanks so much for the note, and for reading Possums for four years! Don’t wait another four before your next comment! Appreciate your commitment, and kind words. Thanks again. Chris

  20. Tony March 25, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    Hey Chris, whilst this came as a big surprise in some ways, it didn’t in others. I wish I’d read your 5 massive lessons 8 years ago when I did the same thing…I didn’t have guardrails, just got out one day, but I was lucky in some ways that my ‘punch in the face’ was being forced to work my 6 months notice which I had not planned for.

    In that time I thought about next steps – something I should have done way beforehand – in the knowledge I had a short term safety net but the clock was ticking.

    That said, as you say one has to overcome that fear of the unknown and resigning at that point was the best thing I ever did in my career. It kickstarted important stuff in my life and at the agency I resigned from, including its subsequent sale which I handled, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. My career totally changed as a result – from being COO of a big agency (not as big as STW mind!) to helping others grow and exit their businesses.

    I have no qualms whatsoever that you will have no regrets and a very bright, more varied and less restrictive future awaits you. Well done. And if you come to London, the team would all love to see you here. I’m so excited for you!

    And keep blogging – the book is a great idea. I love your words of wisdom!

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 8:55 am #

      Tony- good to hear from you and thanks for sharing your experience. Really appreciate your words and enthusiasm! And I will absolutely be in touch on my next London trip. Thanks again. Chris

  21. Matthew Gain March 25, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    I wish you all the best Chris. It will be the right decision I have no doubt.

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 8:56 am #

      Thanks Matt!

  22. Lucy March 25, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    Good luck Chris! I have just resigned from Heineken after 8 years where I have been since leaving Ogilvy and am contemplating my next move too so this post has been particularly useful for me. I find your blog hugely inspiring as you always hit the nail right on the head! Hope all well with you and the family. Lucy

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 8:56 am #

      Thanks Lucy. Good luck with your next step. I have heard from so many people who have done similar things, and thrived. Glad you enjoy Possums! Chris

  23. Andy Lyons March 26, 2015 at 3:10 am #

    Congratulations on making the leap to your next adventure. Bold move? Of course! Badly needed? Sure sounds like it. A wise one? Hell yes!!
    Complacency kills creativity and one’s spirit as well. I faced the same situation years (and years) ago. Dreamed my dream and have been living it ever since.
    If you come stateside for a cup of coffee, holler. I’ll buy.
    Good for you!

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 8:56 am #

      Thanks Andy. Was thinking of your brother only last week. 13 years… Chris

  24. Sally Mills March 26, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Love your blog Chris and so very true – life is too short to be unhappy – and you need time away from the fast lane to discover new things – 100 cups of coffee should do the trick 🙂 best of luck with everything

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks a lot, Sally!

  25. Aleisha March 26, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    This is what I want to do! Unfortunately I don’t have any residual finances available to quit and hope for the best to happen with my dreams. How do you pinpoint a dream, give up on security and “cash flow” that is vital (albeit from a job making you unhappy and feeling trapped) and follow it to happiness and hopefully wealth?- This is my goal also and I hope I too get there. Don’t stop the blogs because they are thought provoking and inspiring.
    Good luck with your coffee meetings and plans.

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

      Aleisha- I understand. It is easier to take the plunge when you have the reserves in place. I had breakfast with a mate recently who had quit to take another path. He’d saved 25% of his salary for four years to build up the cushion he needed to take the plunge. If you need that cash flow and have no cushion, then perhaps the focus has to be a) try to make the grass greener where you are to make it bearable b) and quietly work on a strategy to create opportunity elsewhere so when you have some options lined up, you can take the plunge. I know that is not taking the exit for while not knowing where the stairs will take you, but obviously one can’t do that if you are going to seriously compromise your well being and those you are responsible for. That’s a sad fact of life. Point is- if you are unhappy and unforfilled, try to take action. If you have some fallback reserves, and are confident of forging a new path, consider taking the exit door. If you are handcuffed to the cashflow, which many people of course are, then work quietly and consistently on finding a new role that will inspire and take you forward. Then quit. Good luck with it. Chris

  26. Suzie Batten March 26, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    Congratulations Chris, as one door closes there will probably be many more that open. I echo everyone’s request to keep the blog going, it’s inspiring and breath of fresh air!
    I would love to be one of your 100 cups of coffee, if you’re in Melbourne any time 🙂

    • Chris Savage March 26, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

      Thanks Suzie. Absolutely re continuing the blog. And yes- coffee for sure. Will be in touch when i know my next Melbourne date. Chris

  27. King Lear March 27, 2015 at 6:51 am #

    We two alone will sing like birds i’ th’ cage.
    When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down
    And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
    At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
    Talk of court news, and we’ll talk with them too—
    Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out—
    And take upon ’s the mystery of things
    As if we were God’s spies.

    • Chris Savage March 27, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      King Lear- I love this piece even if it is spam!

  28. Nadine Parkington March 27, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    Chris, years ago I took the option to leave Ogilvy for similar reasons. We have met, some time ago and I enjoy your writing. When you come to Melbourne to have coffee with Suzie please can you add me to your list too!

    • Chris Savage March 27, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      Will do Nadine! Likely early May. Chris

  29. David Metherell March 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    Wishing you well, and good on you for sharing your experience at this time. I took a very similar step ten years ago and have had a colourful journey since then,,,no regrets and lots of learning and experiences. Happy to share notes any time.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Thanks David!

  30. Camille Heaney March 27, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    When one door closes, another bigger and better door opens…. I know that sounds corny, but, boy, have I found it to be very true! The Universe operates in a fabulous way. Take the plunge people! I’m soon gonna be swimming in 100 cups of coffee too Chris 🙂

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Thanks Camille! Good luck with it. Chris

  31. Tony Spencer-Smith March 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    Hi Chris

    I’ve finally caught up to the fact you resigned. A bold move indeed, and one that would be taken only by someone who is truly passionate about their work. All the best with finding a new job that truly extends and satisfies you. I suggest it be with something small and agile, rather than a giant organisation that can’t help but take on some of the characteristics of an elephant!

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      Thanks Tony!

  32. Clare Robinson March 31, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    What can I say that so many others haven’t already…? Your honestly and vulnerability is inspiring. You are showing up in the best possible way to make a difference to yourself and clearly 100s (becoming 1,000s) of people around you who find themselves in similar positions. I know for me personally your council, support, talks and blog posts have made a huge difference in supporting me to get to where I am today and, having made the ‘leap’, I can assure you you will never look back. So many good things coming your way because that is what happens when you face your fears and do it anyway! Courageous, brave, exciting…the only thing the wellness warrior in me wants to say is make ’50 of the 100 cups a camomile tea!’

    • Chris Savage April 3, 2015 at 10:58 am #

      Thanks Clare! Appreciated. Chris

  33. Caroline April 27, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    Stoked to be 1/100.

    Sabatticals are good for creativity, inspiration, engagement… and ultimately remuneration! And don’t just believe me, reference Stefan Sagmeister…

    And as said Mark Twain:
    Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

    • Chris Savage April 29, 2015 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks Caroline!

  34. Maha Krishnapillai May 4, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Well done Chris – I’ve throughly enjoyed your Blog insights!
    We first met in 1999, let me know when you’re in Melb next and lets catch up to compare possum stories and destinations!
    Cheers! Maha

    • Chris Savage May 4, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

      Thanks Maha! Will do. Chris

  35. Margaret La May 12, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    It’s been over a year since I’ve read your posts Chris; since I quit my job and didn’t subscribe with my personal email! That’s been rectified now, don’t worry! Isn’t it funny that I’ve come back to your blog to find that you’ve done the same. I’m now on a new adventure to pursue my passion of helping others get healthier and happier, and I wish you the best of luck in your new pursuits too. Til next time..

    • Chris Savage May 13, 2015 at 10:44 am #

      And all the very best to you, Margaret. Keep me in touch with how you go! Chris

  36. Graham Rees January 11, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    Great work!! Here’s to coffee #1!

Leave a Reply