January 2, 2013: New Year, New Career...

My daily office view 
Time to come out of the closet and confirm that the rumor is true...I am leaving Lutz for a new venture (or better said, adventure?). I decided to make this big move last year after being approached to be part of a healthcare start-up business. More to come on my new endeavor, but I will summarize the business model by saying it is a perfect match of my skill set and my core values. I am excited to play a part in changing healthcare for the better and in turn, help people have better lives. That simple.

Although my title for this new entity is CFO, I have been wearing many hats during the start-up journey. Even with my twenty-two years of consulting in healthcare, there is still much to learn about the intricacies of a very complicated industry. The entrepreneurial spirit of this venture and the people I have met along the way have more than exceeded expectations (each a bloggable story by itself). I can honestly say that I am LOVING every minute without a hint of regret.

Let me regress just a bit on my mid-life crisis mindset and my courage (less liquid) to make the big jump from  a firm I love and a very comfortable career. I would also add that I am within the minority of people who actually enjoy going to work every day. And I've done this for the last twenty-two years. So why the change, you ask?

Well it really goes back to the Hobby House. Yep, you heard me right; the Hobby House. That was the mom-and-pop business where I worked my college internship. My job was to set up the manual accounting system for this small business situated on main street LeMars, Iowa. Although I loved the accounting challenge, I was equally intrigued by the crafts and bins full of treasures that filled the store front. I would listen to the hum of people filling the store and the flow of creativity while doing the books quietly in the back room.

The owner of the business needed to step out one afternoon and asked me to help with the retail side in her absence. Her daughters worked at the store and were busy figuring out how to design the front window displays. As I contributed my thoughts and sketched up some drawings on displays I visualized in my mind, they quickly deferred to my creativity. The energy was high as I twisted paper raffia into dolls and formed patterned bows from ribbons. I drew colorful posters to draw customers in while displaying our new products for sale with class schedules on the latest hobbies. Euphoria was high as the three of us stared at my finished window creation. It was good. Really good. And I knew it.

When the owner returned, I was expecting surprise and appreciation on my work. Instead I was deflated with her reminding me that I was the accountant and my hourly rate was too high for me to be working on the windows. Although she was kind, she was correct that my job description was to do the books. I am quite sure her daughters were as deflated as me as we had envisioned a newly formed collaboration on future Hobby House products and presentations. But it wasn't meant to be.

I completely forgot about the Hobby House until late this summer. I randomly took a left brain/right brain test with the same result that I always get...I am a perfect split between the two. I can very effectively run off of either; thus the resulting mix of debits and credits with innovation topped off with a high desire to interact with people. So as I stared at my brain results and reflected on my halfway birthday of forty-five (halfway through my lifetime and halfway through my work life), I remembered the words of my prior boss and decided it was time to design windows. Yep...halftime adjustment of using my right brain predominantly down the final stretch.

Some think I'm crazy and that this is a shiny nickel. All I can say is that I am forever grateful for the friends and great relationships I have gained at Lutz, but am only excited for my second half of life. This opportunity was nothing short of a Godwink. Anyone who knows me understands that I don't pass up Godwinks. And if my new venture doesn't work out (and we all know that there are no guarantees in life), no worries...I have a VERY long list of right brain skills that look great on a resume :) But let's stick with optimism and the project at hand. I look forward to tackling the healthcare debacle and being a part of positive change. Let the new journey begin!

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