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Out of Corporate Life and into Happiness through Consulting

Ken Chen

Ken Chen

January 21, 2015

Recently, I watched a documentary on HBO called State of Play: Happiness, which explores the lives of former NFL players and their struggles of transitioning to life after football. I couldn’t help but think how similar those stories were to many people who’ve worked in the corporate world and struggle to transition outside of that world.

Watch the State of Play: Happiness preview:

The corporate world, especially here in Silicon Valley, spends a lot of time in meetings, email, politics and team building. At EM Marketing, we’ve found that many parents who see their children growing quickly want to shift their priorities. They crave more time with their families. Consulting can be a way to achieve that work-life balance.

The documentary identifies three things one needs to achieve happiness:

  1. Connecting with Others
  2. Personal Growth
  3. Contributing to Society

For NFL players, they get #1 in extreme doses with their teammates and miss it the most when the transition off the field. In most corporations, people feel like they are getting #1, but often after attaining more advanced levels of management, they aren’t getting #2, and #3 is a crap shoot!

Are you getting these things in your work and life?
Are you getting these things in your work and life?

You Can Have It All With Consulting

My belief is that a career in consulting, if done right, you can actually attain all three. At first, it’s hard to adjust to how you might connect with others. Typically there is far less connecting. Over time, as you build a client base, partners and collaborators, connections can be very robust. And, it’s something that’s more under your control. Personal growth can be tricky as well, but by looking for new opportunities that maximize your learning and push you out of your comfort zone, it happens naturally. Finally, contributing to society is more easily attainable because if you have work-life balance — you can volunteer at your child’s school, coach a youth sports team or give your services pro-bono to non-profits.

The trick is that none of these things are served up on a silver platter, so the allure or draw of corporate life can be strong. I understand it, but also have so many memories of long, pointless meetings, ridiculous politics and endless email. It’s enough to keep me out of that environment and enjoying consulting life.

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