“Changing Jobs When You’re Already Successful”

I’ve been working in the travel and tourism industry for 15 years, and five months ago, I made a career decision to leave my role as Vice President of Marketing at VisitLEX to take on a new role as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Destinations International.

It wasn’t an easy decision for me.

Over the course of my career, I have been blessed with tremendous opportunities to grow, learn and change this industry for the good. I’ve been on the speaking circuit for tourism conferences for almost 12 years, sharing all the great work we’ve done at Louisville Tourism and at VisitLEX. We’ve won countless local, regional and national awards for our work, and I was fortunate to lead these marketing efforts and elevate our destination marketing to prominence. I was also fortunate to win several individual awards along the way. And because of that success people would want to learn how we accomplished what we accomplished, being in state like Kentucky that hadn’t been known more marketing excellence. People would want to know how can destination marketers from Kentucky be so creative, and what is our process for success.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to do more.

While I enjoyed sharing with others how we got to be successful, I also wanted to have a platform that would allow me to help my fellow destination organization professionals become better at their jobs. I wanted to help them become better marketers, better sales people, better service people and better leaders. I wanted to help them become more creative and help them to think different. While I was able to do a little bit of that work through speaking engagements and industry board roles, I knew that if I really wanted to make an impact on this industry, I would need a bigger seat.

Now, I was not actively looking for a new job – I loved working in Lexington and loved working with the team at VisitLEX even more. But the phone rang one day from an executive recruiting firm and I answered.

My first five months in my new role have been both exciting and overwhelming. Moving from marketing a destination to marketing an association is a tale of two cities. I’ve been drinking from a firehouse and will continue to do for the foreseeable future – but I’m ready for the challenge.

However, people still ask me, “why did you leave?” I got the same questions when I left Louisville to work in Lexington, and I had my set of reasons. To leave your place of employment, where you are seeing tremendous success, for the unknown can be scary. I’ve always been ambitious with my career and the impact I want to leave, so for anyone who might be thinking about changing jobs or changing careers, here are three reasons why you should take that leap:

In order to create change, you have to be the change. So many of my fellow marketing colleagues are looking for inspiration on how they can do their jobs better and different. I’ve always done destination marketing different, which is why we put Go Pro cameras on horses to shoot commercials five years ago, and it’s how we created the viral ASMR video called “Neigh-SMR” with a horse (2 million views and counting). I’ve never followed the traditional way of marketing a destination. Because I wanted to see change in our industry, I became the change. And now, I want to use my new role to spread that change throughout our industry so that we can become more creative. There’s nothing wrong with being confident in who you are as a leader, and believing that what you bring to the table will change things for the better. If you want to make a real impact on people or on industry, it’s going to require things to change, and that change starts with you.

Success is not sedentary. If you look at people who have experienced success in their professional lives, they’ve moved around – sometimes a lot. Moving around could mean changing positions within your current company, changing companies within your industry or even changing cities. Moving around could be serving on an internal committee or task force within your company, or taking on a board seat for organizations within your industry or working more with organizations that you are passionate about. No matter what you do, being active is the root of success. Geoffrey Chaucer said, “Time and tide wait for no man.” If you’re looking to start your path to success or want to further grow your successful career – move around.

It’s not about you. Career moves and success will bring you accolades and attention. But the true measure of your work is the lasting impact it leaves on your places of employment, your old colleagues and the industry in which you serve. While your moves will bring you the fancy titles and perks, real leaders know that just comes with the territory. What real leaders understand is that it is no longer about them, but about how they can help others achieve what they have achieved and hopefully go beyond that. I’ve helped re-shape work cultures and environments. I’ve established new ways of doing business. I’ve sat on several tourism industry boards and each board role I had, I was able to help create industry changing programs that were not to my benefit, but to the benefit of those coming behind me.

Being the change, moving around and using your elevated platforms to help others is the true measure of a man or woman.

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