Leaving Google (and Rocket Fuel) to Change the World
In 2008, my boyfriend and I decided to quit working at Google. Why? Well, that answer was exhaustively covered in the infamous Why Google Employees Quit article by @arrington.
After leaving the big G, our days were filled with new activities. We explored the Philippines. We reconnected with family members that we hadn’t spent time with. We hiked Half Dome and Machu Picchu. We read several enlightening books. We also talked a lot about what we were going to do next.
I decided to find a startup that was disrupting the ad tech space. As a Silicon Valley native, this felt like a natural next step. I wanted to roll up my sleeves and apply my Google knowledge to help a small company grow.
Eric sought out to pursue something greater:
Make the world a better place by helping people who help people in need.
Over the next few years, we ventured down different paths. I joined Rocket Fuel and found myself leading their client services team. My days were filled with calls, meetings, and fire drills. No surprise for anyone in online media – it’s an industry that demands multi-tasking juggling acts that could spark envy from Barnum and Bailey. Everyone is expected to balance 27 fine china plates with a stick. On a tightrope. Above fire.
On the other hand, Eric launched Media Cause in 2011. His mission was to give a bigger voice to nonprofit organizations and charities that are committed to making the world a better place. His initial idea was to provide these services for free by recruiting a network of online marketing volunteers and offering career advancement services in exchange for their contributions. Over time, there was an unquestionable need to deliver a higher level of marketing support for these organizations. Eric responded by expanding the service offerings of Media Cause.
A wedding, two children, and an IPO later, a familiar feeling managed to creep back into my brain. While I had gained more knowledge, insight, and expertise than I had ever dreamt of over four years, I had also placed some of life’s priorities on hold (and put a little bit of my soul on layaway). For a second time, I realized something was missing. A part of me still felt unfulfilled.
I decided to leave Rocket Fuel and set out on an excavation to uncover the source of this feeling. How could it be possible that six years after leaving Google, I still felt this way? Several thoughts swirled around in my head. Should I be spending more time with my family? Should I have taken more initiative to travel outside of the country? Did I just cut my lifespan by 10 years because I stopped working out completely?
Meanwhile, Eric pressed onward. He built his team from the ground up, which now provides support for content creation, SEO, SEM, social media management, website analytics, and much more.
Fast forward to 2015 – Media Cause is a world-class nonprofit digital agency. After meeting a handful of employees and witnessing the level of work they were producing, I was impressed and intrigued. “You’re actually doing it,” I said. “You’re making the world a better place with online marketing. I want to be a part of this.”
Two months ago, I joined the team. I found a way to satisfy my soul by applying a decade of online marketing experience to promote good in the world. It is incredibly fulfilling.
And today, to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Media Cause, I’m sharing four discoveries that I have made over the past four years.
1. Will I ever be able to work with people that are as smart as my coworkers at <insert company name here>?
This thought entered my mind upon my exit from Google. And Rocket Fuel.
Smart people are everywhere. It’s easy to find a person with data mining capabilities. Or an MBA. Or an appreciation of keyboard shortcuts.
Kind-hearted people, however, are more difficult to find. And what I have found at Media Cause is hard to beat.
I am surrounded by folks who actively choose to use their knowledge and expertise to make the world a better place. Because those are the only clients Media Cause works with.
Driving conversions with integrated marketing platforms to help bring clean water to villages in Africa? Check. Executing a search engine marketing strategy to raise funds for finding a pancreatic cancer cure? Yup. Implementing retargeting to prevent human trafficking? You bet.
There are several other examples that demonstrate the significance of the effects that Media Cause has on the world today, but I’ll stop here.
2. Can my job really be fulfilling?
During my years at Google and Rocket Fuel, I often found myself at the end of a long day thinking, “We just drove another consumer to purchase something they probably didn’t need.”
“Although, we did help the client spend their marketing dollars efficiently.” Yes, that was my silver lining.
I can wholeheartedly say that it feels completely different to write creatives for an organization eradicating the world water crisis vs. a campaign encouraging sorority sisters to buy a third bikini for summer. And successfully increasing the number of new memberships month-over-month by 300% for an online arthritis community is pretty cool, too. Finding out my mom is one of their newest members doesn’t hurt either.
3. I have several years of online marketing experience, but I don’t have any experience working with nonprofit organizations. Would they hire me?
If you’re ready to use your skill set to help companies that are in the business of promoting good in the world, now is the time to make a shift. It’s never too late to modify your career path in order to focus on growing areas of yourself that keep you energized and curious. This can help prevent you from becoming complacent.
Also, how could you fully realize the extent of what you’re able to accomplish without pursuing a new opportunity?
As it turns out, having a decade of experience working in a revenue-driven media industry allows me to bring something to the table that other folks in the nonprofit space might not have insight into. I am able to contribute at a high level in a fast-paced environment, and my accounts are kicking a**. It’s a win-win.
4. Final point (and this is an important one):
You are in charge of your own happiness – and that includes happiness at work. You can use your skills to make a difference in the world. You can find balance and fulfillment.
In closing, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from Melvin Jones:
“You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”
If a wife / mother of two children / obsessive-compulsive perfectionist can figure out a way to achieve fulfillment – both personally and professionally – you can do it, too.