Tracy Candido (at right), director of programs and events for LMHQ, knows what risk-taking is all about. During her career, she has literally quit her day job, launched her own company and now works to help other businesses grow through collaboration. Ahead of her appearance as a panelist at the May 18, 2017, event Courage v. Fear: Navigating the Big Risks to “Go Big”, we spoke with Tracy about what it means to show courage in the workplace.
What are some small or big worthwhile risks you have taken to grow your career?
I’ve quit a job that had a dysfunctional work environment without having anything else lined up. I’ve been raised to never quit something you make a commitment to and to try to embrace the things you like about it. But when there’s nothing left to like, you end up suffering. Granted, I didn’t just irrationally quit one day: I took a personal finance workshop and saved 3 months of my salary in order to do that. It was a calculated risk, but it allowed me a lot of freedom. I could accept a freelance gig, work on a side project, and have the time and space to prepare myself for my next move.
When you found that courage, what opportunities opened up for you?
After I quit, I got offered a big dream freelance gig and took it, instead of looking for full-time work. The gig was really hard but taught me so much. I kept freelancing for the following year and was able to make 30% more money that year in 9 months that I had made in 12-months at my previous full-time job. I grew my portfolio and my network and developed a thicker skin working with various personalities.
And then, when I wanted to find full-time work, I was a desired talent because I had built up all of these desirable projects and skills, and I was able to choose between a few great offers.
In your professional life, what have been your greatest fears and why?
I’m trying to stay calm in the face of fear when dealing with my impending life as a working parent. I’m currently 8 months pregnant, and my career has always been my baby. For a long time, I’ve had side projects, such as Lady Boss, that have been a strong creative outlet for me. My fear is that my identity as a creative person who has a lot going on in terms of work and projects will be lost when I have less time for pursuing career ambitions. I know that having a kid is a constant negotiation with myself, with my wife and with my job. So I’m trying not to get too freaked out!
How would you encourage young professionals to be actively courageous in their work?
I would encourage them to be their own best advocate while also making sure they are being a supportive coworker and team player. It’s a balance for sure — it takes a certain level of good nature, relationship building skills and communication in order to make it work. But no one is going to advocate for you except yourself. It can be hard to imagine yourself asking for more money, or a more flexible schedule, or more responsibility, but it’s rare that those opportunities are handed to you based on merit, so you need to ask for them. Be strategic. Be kind. Go above and beyond. But also, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. It’s courageous to actually get what you want at work, and it’s even better when you’ve made your own path to success!