In Her Words: What a Career Transition Taught Me About Life
Some people are born knowing they’re meant to run a company, be their own boss, or launch a business they’re passionate about. I’m not that person. When I launched my own business, it was more like a swift kick-in-the-ass by the Universe as it was simultaneously shouting, “Seriously? Why’d you wait so long to do this?”
It was August 2017 and I had made it to the (second rung from) top of the corporate ladder as a media executive in New York City. Each promotion, new role, experience mentoring a newbie, and big deal I closed, gave me thrills and chills. Even my commute rocked — a 4-minute ferry ride (during which I’d eagerly respond to emails) followed by a blissful 15-minute CitiBike ride along the Westside Highway. This was my thing and it fueled me.
Outside of work, I was fulfilled by three lifelong passions: spending time with family and friends, traveling, and giving back. Giving back was something I had been doing for a long time. Thanks to my Ukranian heritage, being of service and feeling fortunate for what I had was instilled in me from a young age. My family in Ukraine didn’t have all the stuff my family enjoyed in the U.S. So, I began volunteering and donating items to support them.
As I grew up, giving back grew more meaningful to me. My journey, which had begun with weekly visits to a local convalescent home throughout grammar school, quickly evolved into an even stronger devotion. When I reached my thirties. I found myself sitting on the board of nonprofit organizations whose missions aligned with my values.
Giving back has always been my calling. The more I began to share my social impact journeys, fundraising events, volunteer opportunities, and the causes I supported on social media, the more people would ask me about them. People were interested in getting involved but had no idea where to start. I became a resource for them and I loved being in that position…on the side, of course. Meanwhile, I happily continued to partake in the everyday hustle of corporate America.
Then, my husband was presented with his dream job that perfectly blended his professional background with his passion for music (he’s the definition of a music nerd, look it up and you might see his face). But there was one major caveat — the job was based in Santa Monica, California. Read: Move our family of four, leave my everyone and everything I had ever known, find a new job —and what about my CitiBike?! Not one to crush someone else’s dreams, I said what any supportive wife would say, “Maybe they’ll hate you after a few more interviews.” They didn’t. Five months later, we moved to Los Angeles.
So that this doesn’t turn into a therapy session, I won’t go into the details of how the move affected me emotionally. But, this is what I had imagined: a temporary break from work while I would search for my next gig and play the role of my kids’ “constant.” Visions of clearing my head while being an exemplary and temporary stay-at-home-mom twirled around in my head…hell, maybe I’d even get to sneak in a quick surf session every day. The reality? D) NONE OF THE ABOVE.
I suddenly became a stranger in a foreign land. With each day that passed, I felt like I was losing my sense of self more and more. Unfamiliar faces replaced lifelong friends and family. Repeated diaper changes replaced stimulating strategy sessions. My car replaced my beloved CitiBike. Like the sensation I remembered feeling during the 16th hour of labor, I knew I had one last push in me. At this particular juncture, I decided to dig deep. Among all of the change and confusion, I realized that I still had two things: my brain and my passion for giving back. With the power of both elements, at the ripe age of 40, I created something that, as I have come to realize, had been percolating throughout my whole life: The Cause Bar, a lifestyle destination and resource that offers inspiration and education on simple, applicable ways to pay it forward and make a deeper impact.
After starting The Cause Bar as a passion project, it took me one month to realize there was no turning back. It became a full-time commitment, complete with all of the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. I am grateful every day for the people I meet who continue to inspire me along this journey— other entrepreneurs, women in the workplace, moms running a home, founders of nonprofit organizations. This community, their support, and what I like to call “the little green light,” all serve as signs that I’m exactly where I was always meant to be, doing exactly what I was called to do. With just one year in, the next phase of The Cause Bar is right around the corner…stay tuned!
Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Being pulled out of your comfort zone is often the most brutal but authentic way of discovering your true self and purpose.
- Focus on self-affirmation versus approval from others.
- Collaboration over competition. Always.
- Instead of listening to the expert, listen to your true inner wisdom.
- There is never a right or wrong time – or the right age for, that matter – to follow your dreams.
- I always knew this, but now it really hits home: Women are badasses, and when we support each other, magic happens.
Kristiana Tarnuzzer – mother, change-maker, and former media exec-turned-entrepreneur – created The Cause Bar @thecausebar to show how simple adjustments to our lives can make a positive impact. Her superpower—building long-term, collaborative relationships—coupled with her deep understanding of the philanthropic space and the belief that everyone can activate change, has been the driving force behind The Cause Bar.
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