Finding Your Calling – A Pivot Point

Finding Your Calling - Ideas from TED

Hi there.

Many of you know that I recently made a pivot in my career and started teaching Marketing at Loyola University’s  School of Business.  I’m here to tell you…

I. Love. It. 

It is one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done.  When I walked into the classroom for the first time, and looked at those 45 students looking back at me, it was like an epiphany.  I said, “Hello.  I’m Amy Hilliard, And I’m here to not just to teach you Marketing, but to make it come alive for you.  I want you to feel it.  As business students, and ultimately business people in the world, you will have the to power in your hands to change lives.  As marketers, never underestimate this impact.  We will learn together, and I will be tough on you, but we will have fun.  Are you ready?  Let’s GO!!”

Did I rehearse that?  Not at all.  It just came out.  And in every class since then, it has just gotten better.  I’m working harder than ever, for a LOT less money than I’ve made before.  But when I saw this diagram and read the article from Ideas From Ted,  it all made sense.  Take a read when you can:

To sum up this article by , here’s my take on the 7 Lessons to Learn About Finding Work You Were Meant to Do:

1. Your calling is at the intersection of a Venn diagram of three things: doing something you’re good at, feeling appreciated, and believing your work is making people’s lives better.

That’s EXACTLY how I feel in the classroom!  Anyone who knows me knows that Marketing is my Thing.  Has been forever.  My students are getting a kick out of the stories from my corporate career and my entrepreneurial journey that I mix in with the textbook learning.  Heck, I’m loving reading the textbook myself!  (OK, I’ve got it bad, LOL). But they appreciate my approach, and they let me know.  Importantly, I feel that when they go out into the world, they have the chance to make people’s lives better, and my work will have something to do with that.  It’s an awesome feeling.

2. Your calling often comes out of difficult experiences.

You all also know my Mom passed recently.  Well, my Mom was a teacher.  A dedicated teacher.  She left a nursing career and went to college at night after having 4 daughters to become one.  I totally remember how she prepared lessons for her classes…she taught Science, for example, and I had to feed the snakes and frogs she had in aquariums on our back porch for her students.  Yuk!  But she wanted to bring real stuff to the classroom.  I also remember her being my substitute teacher while she was getting her teaching certificate.  Now, THAT was something.  Having your Mom as your teacher!  She was no-nonsense, but her passion to make her students be the best they could be came through loud and clear.

When she died, in my grief I had to reflect deeply on what my own legacy would be.  Sure, I’ve had a great career.  But that sweet spot on the Venn diagram got me–BAM!  I get why she loved this honorable profession so much.  And though I miss her deeply, she’s still teaching me.  Now, as a teacher myself, I am channeling her spirit when I stand before my students.  I feel her energy helping me to do and say the right things, to challenge them and cherish them at the same time.

3. Calling often takes courage and ruffles feathers.

Making the decision to teach took courage for me.  I’ve been asked to bring back ComfortCake.  Every day, I get a mention about it.  Every. Single. Day.  It was an absolutely wonderful and life-changing journey.  But after much thought, I’ve decided to focus on teaching, though I know with the brand equity, the right business model and a good team I could build it one more time.  If I do bring ComfortCake back, I will still teach.  That does ruffle the feathers of some.

4. Other people often nudge you toward your calling.

This one is totally true.  Last year, I was really struggling to think about my next act.  I had consulting projects and speaking opportunities.  But also wanted more steady income.  A friend looked me in the eye and said, “What are you doing?  There are all these colleges and universities right here in Chicago!  With all that you’ve done, you can teach!  Send out your background to them on-line THIS WEEKEND.  NO EXCUSES.”   That’s what I did.  And months later, with perfect timing, and the perfect opportunity, Loyola got back to me.

5. What comes after identifying your calling is what really matters.

Truth also.  Teaching is a LOT of work.  Prepping for each class.  Developing homework assignments and tests.  Presenting.  Grading exams and Marketing Plans.  Whew!  But you know what?  I wake up in the morning and check email to see if “my babies” need anything from me.  I have to give them what they need to make a difference in this world.  And, I find that doing so is almost addictively enjoyable.  My friends are amazed at how busy I am doing this.

6. Age is irrelevant.

‘Nuff said.  At 67 years old, I feel I can do this for many more years to come in some form or another.  Classroom teaching.  Online teaching.  Writing books.  Podcasting.  Speaking.  It’s totally energizing.

7. Calling often doesn’t come with a big paycheck.

While that is true, I believe that it will open doors of income that will more than sustain me.  This is what matters–All money isn’t green.  These last 18 months I’ve lost eight loved ones, friends, mentors, mentees including my mother and just yesterday,

Elijah and Maya

my friend and Howard University classmate, Congressman Elijah Cummings, shown here with his wife, Dr. Maya.  As I’ve said in a previous post, Stress Doesn’t Sizzle–It Fries.  I’m about doing what I love, what I’m good at, what others appreciate, and what can make people’s lives better.  My purpose is clear.  I’ve pivoted.  God will make sure I have a roof over my head and food to eat.  And then some.

Look forward to your thoughts.




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