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To say life has been good the past month is an understatement. Some incredible opportunities have been coming my way. I’ve always been one who is comfortable with “paying my dues,” but I’ve never been one to give much thought to the payoff.

I love to work, and I love what I do. When I leave Rackspace after a long day, I typically uncork a bottle of wine {on the days I don’t work out, which unfortunately has been more often than I care to admit} and get to work on blogging and social media for Mayhar. That’s just who I am – working is often times a hobby. And when it becomes too much, I take a weekend off or start planning a fantastic vacation {which, by the way, comes way too infrequently}.

So, imagine my surprise when I received something I was not working toward and that I had no idea existed. Pretty spectacular.

Two days ago I received an invite to become a Fellow with the Next Generation Project Texas through the Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin. It’s a mouthful, I know. Ultimately, it’s an organization/network that works together to produce “cutting-edge ideas for the next generation of global challenges.” In other words, I get to sit with like-minded young go-getters who are the leaders of tomorrow, and talk about challenges facing our country, the world and public policy.

Thrilled and honored as I am, I also am wondering “why me?” There are so many incredibly talented people within my generation – why am I one of the 40+ fellows selected?

I’m still sorting that one out.

Ultimately, I am completely aware that this is not about me. It’s more and more obvious every day that I am not worthy of the blessings my Savior continues to bestow upon me. Yet, in spite of my inadequacies, He continues to love me and bless me.

As each day goes by, I greater understand and appreciate His perfect plan. I realize this past month has been about peeling back a new layer that He is revealing to me…and it’s more beautiful than anything I could have ever planned on my own!

February 7 marked my one-year anniversary at Rackspace Hosting. To say my experience has been great would be an understatement. I have learned so much, and have been surrounded by brilliant minds on my team. An added value has been the great friendships I have already built.

My position as a Marketing Automation and Lead Nurturing Analyst is embedded in the Online Marketing team. I have already said the team is brilliant, and they truly are at the cutting-edge of B2B marketing. We are challenging so many walls, and breaking into uncharted territory – and rocking it!

With this move to a company that now employs more than 4,000 people, many people ask me if the transition has been difficult. I used to work at home, accompanied only by my two precious kitties. While I do miss their purring little faces, I have gained so much knowledge and challenged myself to grow as a marketer.

So what have been those areas of big or worthwhile areas of growth and learning?

1) Confirmation. It’s wonderful to have a team of colleagues who you highly respect, that look to you for your own expertise. Working on your own can sometimes cause doubt as to whether you are approaching opportunities in the right manner. Having a team, though, helps to confirm you when you have doubts, and helps tremendously to built confidence.

2) Celebration. Working as a team also means joyous celebrations. Projects successes, birthdays, career anniversaries and more are all areas that are praised and enjoyed at Rackspace. You’re not going at things alone, and it’s so wonderful to have a team who goes through it all alongside you.

3) Collaboration. As any company grows, so is the need to work across multiple business units and departments. It can be quite challenging at times, but it’s helped my communication and project management skills. Reaching out to sales operations, sales, finance and legal helps me to look at projects holistically, and to understand the greater impact across the company. It’s been quite a mind-shift, but has challenged me to learn process across the entire company.

My communication skills have grown tremendously as have my problem-solving skills. Every day brings new challenges and opportunities, and I cannot wait to see where I am in another year. I am so blessed to be part of a growing, thriving team at Rackspace!

Ever notice that your brightest ideas seem to come to you when you’ve relaxed after a hard day of work, had a few glasses of your favorite adult beverage, and are ready to finally take a break from it all? Irony.

In one of those pondering dazes, I’ve realized that it’s not really irony at all. It’s in these moments that we can let go of all perceptions of who we are supposed to be and what is expected of us; we can finally let our individuality shine through with no false facade. And that’s why your best ideas come when you relax and let your inner talent shine true.

All too often, we get caught up in what others think and how others say we should run a business. I think this is why the word “corporate” has such a negative connotation; stereotypically, it’s dripping with the essence of no individuality. If we let others dictate who we are, we’ll never come to know our own true potential.

High school is over – don’t let insecurity drive you back into that funk.

I thrive on running against the grain. It’s just who I am. I tend to think outside the box – I believe this is the lifeblood of any entrepreneur. It makes us tick. Makes us bold. And makes us strike out on our own accord, ignoring the failure rate of so many businesses before us.

Social platforms have created a “shrinking” of geographic distance, putting incredible resources at your fingertips. Brilliant minds and communities of collaboration exist to make everyone better. But, this also comes with a tendency to fall in line with what everyone else is doing. After all, if the experts are doing it, how can it be wrong?

I believe a corporate mentality can begin to exist as we fall in step with trailblazers in the community and fail to follow our own instincts as entrepreneurs. As wonderful as each trailblazer’s mind is, they are meant to be unique. Not simply to be emulated. They are meant to offer suggestions and arouse ideas, not serve as a blueprint for your own situation.

The avid salmon in the stream must keep swimming upstream. If not, we as entrepreneurs fail as a species.

Your challenges are unique to you, but common in the business community

I used to step back and filter my blogs, filter my thoughts and believe that I was somehow “not accurate” in my challenges and successes. This simply isn’t true. As I’ve worked at Rackspace, I’ve come to gain confidence in my instincts and talents as a marketer…and most importantly, my unique voice. If we all sang in unison, it would sound nice. But just imagine how much more beautiful would be the sound of voices coming together, slightly off step with one another…each ringing out loud and true to their own journey.

So to everyone whose voice feels stifled, take a deep breath. Shed that skin of insecurity, and be strong in your own talents. Business can be tough, but it only beats you down when you aren’t being true to you.

High school is over, no one is judging you. In fact, they probably have a lot to learn from you.

So think outside the box and dare to do something bold. If you wholly commit yourself to this endeavor, you’ll be in line with the greatest thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs and philosophers of all time.



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