I grew up along the coast of North Florida in a family business. By the age of 12 my artwork was selling in our retail store, I had my own checking account and had attracted a few paying adult art lesson clients. (precocious doesn't even begin to describe the situation) I remember coming home one day so happy – the retired English teacher that had been struggling with a particular still life I assigned had a breakthrough, she was so excited she started to cry. When I arrived home from the class I was all smiles and enthusiastic chatter about how good it felt to help people through art – and my parents set me down and had “the conversation.”
Their take was you could not make a living, have a career, based on art. I needed to be business oriented.
I was crushed at first, wanting to lash out and take my art out of the shop – not take on any new art students - what was the point? But my drawings and paintings kept selling so I kept creating. Thank goodness the next school year airbrushing was taught in art class and I was off to the races with a “business” of airbrushing t-shirts, ball caps and sand dollars in a converted storage shed. By 17 years old I had cash in the bank, three summers of success under my belt and was able to buy a new blue Mazda truck, for cash, to haul my supplies to festivals in the slow tourist months. That little truck named Putt-Putt even had air conditioning!
Despite what I can now look back on as success, I kept hearing the message from adults “It’s time to get serious…you can’t make a living with art.” I remember sitting in the guidance counselors office after the results from our aptitude tests came back. She had three printouts and a puzzled look.“Marjorie, the tests came back showing you have extremely high aptitudes – but in three areas – business leadership, law and art. Obviously you can only do one thing and I’m sure your parents would agree the best route is business. After all, law is hard for girls to break in to and you can’t make a living at art. Business will be tough enough but you already have a good leadership track in school and your family business. I’ll just file these other two options away and you can take this sheet to your parents to see.”
Looking back, I was likely making as much or more in three months during the tourist season than she made all year. But to a non-rebellious teenager, the voice of authority had spoken and I obeyed.
Sure enough, after graduation it was off to college, taking business courses and being bored to death. There were no options for testing out of basic accounting and marketing….really?!? After fits and starts (not attending classes) it was decided I needed to be able to “cheat” a little and ended up at a commercial design school.
I joined the design world after graduation, becoming an Art Director within 18 months, then, you guessed it, the business leadership in me came out - quickly moving into corporate management.
And subsequently I went 12 years WITHOUT drawing,
painting or writing for myself.
Fast Forward to the Next Phase: It took one of those moments in time that you never forget, always remembering the temperature, the brightness of the sun, the sweet smell of blooming roses and the acrid presence of rubbing alcohol to set my foot on the path to creating and living my dream! I had achieved the pinnacles of success that so many hold dear – traveling to Germany on a corporate jet, being on stage in front of hundreds of peers from around the world, the big office with views. And each day, it felt like another small part of me slipped away.
It all came to focus on a beautiful Florida morning in March, standing outside the hospital where my father was held captive by tubes and machines in ICU. I had flown home after getting the call he had fallen and hit his head, leading to bleeding and pressure on the brain. I was outside because phones were prohibited and I had a number of voicemails to return. A multi-million dollar project at my main facility had hit a snag that morning, folks from headquarters were demanding a resolution and the vendors were making excuses. I had a strong team in place so the reality was that things were going to be fine.
But the visceral reaction I had during one voicemail left me stunned “you need to be on a plane this afternoon – I don’t care how good your team is, they aren’t the Director – it doesn’t matter what is going on in your personal life, nothing is as important as your job.” That was the voicemail a corporate officer left while I was being blessed with what was to be the last lucid conversation I had with my father. The conversation where he told me how proud he was of everything I had done, how much he loved me and that he never meant to hold me back – that I should do what made me happy.
Daddy with his Azaleas
The Next Seven Years: Though that day outside of ICU provided a pivotal moment, it took another 7 years of learning, planning and creating to realize my “Plan A.” And during that time the enduring element that kept me going was the Spark of creativity I honored, for myself and my father. Stepping fully into being a creative entrepreneur while still working and walking the corporate path was at times challenging and frustrating – there was no guide or guru to help.
But it was more than just creativity I craved.
With more than 19 years in corporate management my skills became well honed for business. Particularly building great teams, coaching peak performance, mentoring, finding new revenue streams and growing existing ones. So heck, how can that translate to doing something on my own? (A self imposed question often asked after frustrating meetings and LOOOOONNNNNGGGG days at the office.
How a casual comment during lunch launched me forward
It was a Monday lunch with a friend, talking about what each was doing in our work and home lives. We were discussing the book he wanted to write and if I would edit and format the pages and design the cover. Sure - it's one of the things I've learned to do over the years. Then he starts explaining some of the marketing he is going to do around the book and for me, it's a "Hold Your Horses" moment. This is a guy in the financial services industry - how does he know so much? That's when I got invited to a meeting the next day of marketers all about ROI, SEO, Direct Response, Keyword Targeting.....you get the picture - I was in marketing heaven and joining my first mastermind!
That day set my feet firmly on the path of understanding so many things about consumer behavior, selling and results. Combining that with my successful career in corporate management that spanned finance, operations, sales, publishing and marketing - I had all the building blocks to create something better than a "Plan B." I also learned the absolute imperative need to have coaches, mentors and mastermind type interaction available to elevate my knowledge and outlook. Without that outside help of mentors and coaches these last few years, I would have gotten "stuck" in my old patterns and beliefs.
Within the mastermind and mentoring environments I concentrated on creating my "Plan A" - including multiple streams of income from a variety of sources before I left corporate management. Fast forward to today and you can find most of what we do under our umbrella brand, Ms X Media. Helping others achieve their dreams is what we do!
Why " Ms X" ?!? for your main company?
My VP job rung an average of 50 - 60 hours a week from my schedule, but I was determined to do a little bit each evening and on the weekends to grow my "Plan A." And when you have a name that is relatively rare (Marjorie Schoelles) and you are working nights and weekends on projects that include public speaking, you have to make a choice. My choice was to be billed as the "Mystery Speaker" and "Ms X" - allowing full development and implementation of my business and marketing plans while still providing tremendous value to the corporate job. In this day of Google and Social Media, personal brand management is key - the days of being off the radar are over.
Defining my purpose
And fortunately, along the way, I have been blessed with several mentors and mastermind groups that have catapulted my understanding of business and purpose light years beyond where I would be if I was still going the traditional route of reading, studying and seminars. It was in Miami, during a Profit summit that my purpose began to emerge in a crystal clear phrasing.
"Successful, visionary entrepreneur in the spotlight, as a CEO."
One of my skills is also "helping people and organizations through a crisis of meaning"
Talk about the perfect blueprint for building my businesses! Each business segment has been created or expanded to be congruent with my purpose. And that is also why our SURGE,PowerHouse and Elite level coaching clients go through our "Purpose Discovery Process". Too often we build our lives and careers around what we "SHOULD do, not what we are MEANT to do." Why would we want to be building or working on things that are not in alignment with who you are? Can you say you know your purpose and are building your life around it? I am and it feels great!
One of my purpose driven businesses is High Voltage Marketing, with the innovative "Chief Marketing Officer" for lease program, fulfilling the "helping people and organizations through a crisis of meaning" part of my purpose. For medium sized businesses needing the expertise of a CMO, but not quite there in resources, they can now utilize a "CMO" resource on an portion basis. Meanwhile, their marketing and sales are being streamlined and elevated in preparation for the next step. Our team members have defined their own purpose in business and their skills are used in alignment with both their purpose and the client's needs.
And of course, there is Mermaid Sand, Seahorse Gallery, rental properties, speaking, coaching and a few other endeavors. Before I ramble much further....I'm hoping you can see that feeling frustrated, trapped or unhappy in with your work life or lost dreams does not have be be a "forever" problem. Let me help.
One final piece
If you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed - or think that I may not understand - I'll come clean on my last 16 months. Work was in huge turmoil. My brother died suddenly and in another country last summer. I found a lump (turned out to be several) in my breast mid-October and had a double mastectomy in December due to Breast Cancer. I was traveling cross-country and on stage by February. More turmoil within the corporate job. My reconstructive surgery was in May. More traveling.
How many taps on the shoulder from the universe does it take to understand "it's time?" Hence my separation from the false security of a corporate job and my full time dedication to my purpose, my clients and you. And what did I step toward? My fully functioning "Plan A" - and the freedom and joy are indescribable. Now you know my story. :-) Marjorie
Change is not easy, but it is made more tolerable by surrounding ourselves with people that support us, striving for the greater good. This life is not a rehearsal - we only have this moment and how we chose to move forward.
What are your next steps going to be? ~ Marjorie Schoelles
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