For over 25 years, Changing Course has been teaching people how to find their calling and create a life and livelihood they love, outside of the traditional “job box.”
Chief Empowerment Officer
I’ve been working in office jobs since I was 16 years old, and babysitting long before that. I often had two jobs – one in the office that paid well, and one in a retail store or other environment that felt more creative and let me be around beautiful things. I grew up on the east coast (New Jersey), moved to Hawaii (Oahu) in my early 20s, and eventually settled halfway in between (the Pacific Northwest). My career, such as it was, took me to law firms and on to a burgeoning tech industry.
As an employee for a large internet company that was in its toddlerhood when I worked there, I was exposed to a lot of innovative thinking. The prevailing attitude was “if you think you can do it, and you want to do it, go for it!” I loved this energy and really loved my job … until … they started to grow and put “structures” in place. My “job box” began to narrow, and I no longer felt that sense of contribution, or the camaraderie of everyone working toward the same goal.
I wanted to make a difference. I wanted the freedom to make my own schedule, and not be bound by the two or three weeks of vacation they allowed. I wanted to be paid well and have the right resources for the work I did. That’s where I was when the Changing Course training came along. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
I became a Changing Course Outside the Job Box Career Expert (later known as Profiting from Your Passions coach) with the class of 2007.
I was raised to be a rule follower but it slowly dawned on me that the “rules” were set by someone who did not necessarily have my best interests at heart. Then I stumbled on the Katherine Hepburn quote: “If you follow the rules, you miss all the fun,” so my mantra became “My Life, My Rules.” I even designed a t-shirt with the slogan for one of my clients.
I’ve learned how to make my own rules; to create the life that I want, regardless of what others thinks I should want. I want the freedom to do work I love, work with people I love and for whom I can make a difference, and to create prosperity and abundance for myself and my family. To own my time and my livelihood, and to contribute in the same spirit of “if you think you can do it, and you want to do it, go for it!”
And I want that for you too!
The idea of loving my profession came during my senior year of college. I was a marketing major and we had to select a project around which we would create a promotional campaign. I wanted to create a campaign to encourage people to register as organ donors, but my team and my professor outvoted me. Instead, we worked on a project to launch a new luxury car.
That was a pivotal experience for me. I made a promise to myself then that I would never again work at something that I didn’t care about deeply and for the past 30 years, I’ve kept that promise.
I’ve worked in education supporting low-income students in the financial aid office of a major urban university, running merit scholarship programs for minority medical students, facilitating strategic planning with public charter schools and helping low-income and first generation students get to college.
I’ve worked with nonprofits focused on a women’s leadership development, education, community development, teen pregnancy prevention, arts education, and teacher education.
I worked for the government to engage nonprofits and individuals with the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps national service programs. I’ve worked to engage millions of people in community service across the nation.
I’ve coached people to find jobs that they love and after completing the Profiting from Your Passions coach training with Changing Course in 2007, I began coaching people to create work they would love.
In addition to Changing Course, I coach and train nonprofit leaders and volunteers on issues of leadership and organizational development, and volunteer and consult with youth development, anti-hunger, workforce development, and higher education organizations.
I did some of this as an employee and some of it as an entrepreneur and I have loved it all! The common thread is I love doing work that helps people and communities. I want you to love what you do too. I excel at creating strategies to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
For me, Changing Course is about doing work that you love and living life on your own terms. Do you love your work? If not, are you ready to Change Course?
Founder & Dreamer-in-Residence (retired 2020)
Note: Although Valerie has retired from Changing Course, she continues to serve as an advisor, collaborator and cheerleader.
Sooner or later everyone gets a wake-up call. Mine came in 1993 after my mother Barbara died unexpectedly of a heart attack. My mother was just 61 and five months short of her much-awaited retirement.
Soon after I said goodbye to my 90-mile-a-day commute to my corporate job to become the Founder and Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com.
Like all transitions, success took time and effort. But the hard work paid off because today I get paid to help people just like you to connect the dots between what you love to do and how you can make a living doing it… without a job-job.
I’m also considered a leading expert on something called impostor syndrome. That nagging sense that you are in over your head and they’re going to find out. Been there? I know I have!
Today I’m a well-paid speaker for such organizations as Boeing, Apple, IBM, Procter and Gamble, Facebook, Merck, McDonald’s (Europe), Chrysler, Microsoft, and over 85 colleges and universities in the US, Canada, and Japan.
I was honored to receive a six-figure book deal from Random House for The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.
Writing that book was, hands down, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I don’t need a fancy degree to do any of the work I’ve done.
But early on I did earn my doctoral degree from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in social justice education. At, by the way, the same university where my Mom was working as a second shift custodian when she died.