Risky business: When career change creates success

What does it take to completely change your career? Much like a start-up pivoting, changing career paths can be one of the most powerful agents for growth, especially when you exit your comfort zone. Leaving the security of everything you know is challenging, but having collected data points on your passions and strengths through experience, changing careers can bring you into closer alignment with your values, and sense of fulfilment. 

We all know what it is like to work in a job that feels mediocre, but what if it was possible to embrace risk and forge new creative paths to success?

Jess Wilson, Founder of Stashd left producing runway fashion shows in Paris and Milan to build apps - first in English, then in Mandarin to enter the Chinese market, despite having no experience in China, or technology.

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She worked to launch her app Stashd, a virtual shopping mall, and decided that China would be the best market for growth, given that it is bigger than the U.S. and European tech markets combined. In another risky twist, she then relocated to Shanghai for a Chinese reality show called The Next Unicorn that aired to 150 million viewers - and managed to catch the attention of Tencent, who runs the China's largest App Store with 700 million users. Tencent became a shareholder in Stashd, and Wilson secured her position as a celebrated tech CEO, a world away from her previous career in runway shows. As it stands, her app has users in 136 countries and offers half a million products to its millennial audience.

Rudá Iandé grew up pursuing perhaps a more unusual career path, starting his studies in naturopathic therapies from the age of fifteen, before living with and learning from indigenous shaman in the Amazonian rainforest over many years. His next challenge was to bring the lessons from ancient cultures and shamanism back to modern society, as a scientific discipline, without the mystical superstitions that it is so often associated.

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While working with Marina Abramovic and high profile clients, Iandé began to develop a program called Primal Source, and made the leap into coaching and consulting for corporates after realizing there is often a disconnect between an individual's potential and what they allow themselves to achieve.

He now travels to New York, LA and London working with entrepreneurs and companies who want to tap into their creative power, and push past personal barriers to conquer their professional goals.The emphasis for business is discovering the unconscious processes that shape belief, and how with practical strategies, individuals overcome limitations. In his own life, and those of his clients, Iandé demonstrates the payoff in leaving your comfort zone and making bold career changes.

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For others, taking the great leap into the unknown career wise, can be the norm. Sophie Hackford (left) was the Director of Consulting at WIRED, advising big brands on the future of tech. As a "future thinker", Hackford's job was to choose the outliers and geeks building artificial intelligence, rockets, gene sequencers or supercomputers to introduce to the CEOs in FTSE100 boardrooms. What is she up to now? Since leaving Conde Nast, Hackford has created a new kind of research program, to seek out those under-the-radar innovators building the future in Shenzhen, Lagos, Kiev, and Amman. Finding herself in demand as a conference speaker, means she can bring these innovators and new ideas into the corporate consciousness.

While changing your career can appear daunting, the upside is well worth the potential risk. You are much more likely to discover personal and professional success in a career that resonates with you, and aligns with your passion. If the road ahead appears uncertain, remember that people leading the most interesting lives, have worked hard to consciously create jobs that allow them to feel the most alive. In short, what would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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