Only Intrinsic Motivation Lasts

Why I Quit a $250K Job at WeWork to Work For Myself

2020 has been wild. Yes, that is a heavy understatement.

And in June 2020, I decided to layer in a new personal challenge. In the midst of the pandemic, I decided to leave my cushy Senior Sales Leadership role at WeWork after 2.5 years.

Despite getting rewarded repeatedly with promotions, compensation, recognition, and praise, I wasn’t motivated enough to do another year at a commercial real estate company.

I spent my time at WeWork building out the West US Enterprise Account Management team. I interviewed hundreds of people, built a team of 25 employees, and scaled our team to $25M in ACV. I liked the real estate space but I certainly was not fulfilled.

Everything was going well and getting better. But despite all this, my motivation to go to work each morning was decreasing — almost in an inverse trend to my career and income growth.

Despite getting rewarded repeatedly with promotions, compensation, recognition, and praise, I wasn’t motivated enough to do another year at a commercial real estate company.

I spent my time at WeWork building out the West US Enterprise Account Management team. I interviewed hundreds of people, built a team of 25 employees, and scaled our team to $25M in ACV. I liked the real estate space but I certainly was not fulfilled.

Everything was going well and getting better. But despite all this, my motivation to go to work each morning was decreasing — almost in an inverse trend to my career and income growth.

Rewards up, motivation down.

It would have been foolish of me to expect my motivation to start increasing if I got yet another promotion, compensation bump, or big leadership opportunity. But there was something else that was trending down with my motivation. It was my freedom and inability to focus on my true passion.

The Motivation Decline

For the first couple of years of my career, my motivation was off the charts. I had the opportunity to experience incredible roles in civil engineering, project management, customer success, and ultimately sales. I worked hard and was often rewarded with recognition, promotions, and pay. However, I realized that I would always have to work on somebody else’s terms if I stayed at a large company.

Early in your career, the terms are relatively simple (do the work 10% better than the next person), but then they get more complicated as the years pass by (maximize all goals; satisfy all stakeholders). And then, most organizations start to tell you how to do the work, what work to do, what goals to set, and what business is and is not worth pursuing. This situation was squeezing me into doing things that I’d rather not do, and vice versa.

So What Did I Realize?

As someone who immigrated from Ukraine to the United States at the age of 4, I had a tough time assimilating in K-12 and my early adult life. I was growing up in a household with loving parents that grew up in a completely different environment. They thought differently. They solved problems differently. They showed compassion differently. Between my immigrant upbringing at home and attending American schools, I often felt conflicted, misunderstood, and truthfully, confused about what was the ideal way to operate and show up in society.

I felt the same way in college and for many years in the workplace, constantly battling between “the immigrant way” of doing things and the current American way of showing up at work and in life.

My immigrant family instilled in me the discipline and focus necessary to be successful but did not provide me the tools, strategies, and communication skills to confidently convey my innate ability coupled with emotional intelligence. I was taught to get a steady corporate job with benefits, similar to those afforded to them by the government in the Soviet Union. I experienced limiting thinking because of my ancestral lineage.

After obtaining a Bachelors’s and Masters’s in Civil Engineering, an MBA, and multiple certifications, I made countless pivots, suffered through a layoff, and ultimately did the deep mindset work necessary for me to overcome limiting beliefs. My greatest realization? The path toward life and career fulfillment and financial independence are not linear, it’s dynamic, and opportunities and money are abundant in the United States.

Through my upbringing, constant self-identity struggle, a great deal of education, hard work, and perseverance, I was able to break through my own limiting beliefs, gain the respect I craved, earn the promotions I wanted, and make money that my parents never thought was possible. Ultimately, I was able to thrive as a senior leader at WeWork, one of the fastest-growing startups in the world at the time, and eventually go on to start my own leadership coaching practice, Career Meets World.

What’s Next?

I’m going all-in on independence, and I’m going to make a living with my own bare hands starting from nothing.

When reflecting on all of my experiences, I became committed and focused on sharing everything I have learned with other growth-minded immigrants and first-generation professionals so that they can break through limiting beliefs, bypass obstacles in the workplace, and earn the promotions they want with the lucrative pay that they desire.

My parents afforded me a life in America coupled with tremendous courage. Now, as a leadership coach, I am partnering with people who have walked a similar pathway and empowering them to unleash their full potential at work and in life.

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Originally published at www.careermeetworld.com on December 1, 2020.

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Helping ambitious immigrants and first-generation leaders thrive in business and life. CEO of Career Meets World.

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Edward Gorbis

Edward Gorbis

Helping ambitious immigrants and first-generation leaders thrive in business and life. CEO of Career Meets World.

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