Why I Followed My Personal Calling, Even When It Led Away From A Great Job

Why I Followed My Personal Calling, Even When It Led Away From A Great Job

I realized over 10 years ago that I have a calling that cannot be ignored — a calling to create opportunities for the next generation of leaders in under-represented communities. After years as a corporate communications executive, I saw an opportunity for my employer to be a more socially responsible company, generate positive news stories, and support public policy goals by creating partnerships with leaders of under-represented communities. After all, these growing communities are the users, customers and supporters of the companies that serve them. But the notion of working closely with them was unfamiliar to leadership primarily because they are not represented in decision-making roles.

As an executive at a Fortune 500 company, I created a new role focused on developing a network of relationships and partnerships with under-represented 
communities. The idea was supported and after several years, there were tangible outcomes for the public policy, human resources, and diversity teams and noted benefit to company value. There was also significant progress in the community as a result of our collective work together. At last, I was able to fulfill my personal calling while contributing to the good of the company. This calling eventually led me to Facebook.

The “Director of Community Engagement” position didn’t exist when I met the leader of public policy at Facebook almost six years ago. I convinced him to create this role, pointing out that Facebook needed to have a Community Engagement strategy and a network of strategic relationships with diverse communities and their leaders. Thankfully, he agreed and we embarked on the journey together.

Initially, community leaders were surprised that Facebook was interested in working together with them so early on in the company’s life. But they quickly learned that Mark and Sheryl’s commitment was sincere and we solidified an open dialogue and collaborative relationships with many leaders and organizations.

I spent five years creating a solid network of relationships and partnerships with leaders of various diverse communities and served as the company liaison. This network resulted in close relationships with the country’s most reputable under-represented leaders from the African American, Asian American, Disabled, Hispanic, LGBT, and minority small business communities throughout the United States. We created opportunities together and continually educated key leaders about important Facebook business and policy issues. The outcomes were measurable and rewarding for everyone.

And once again, I was affirmed by the value and power of establishing strategic and diverse community-centered partnerships.

After building a solid foundation of Community Engagement at Facebook, I was inspired to follow my calling again by expanding my reach as an independent consultant. I wanted to multiply my success at Facebook through working with others in the technology sector and different industries. Reactions to my decision to leave Facebook, after five years as a senior Latina in the company, ranged from dropped jaws to looks of confusion. But when I met with Sheryl Sandberg to thank her, she supportively focused on the contributions I made to the company and the exciting opportunities in my future given my experience. Sheryl encouraged me to share my story to inspire other women.

Telling my elderly parents was tough, as their generation did not believe in leaving “a good job.” Taking risks in Hispanic culture isn’t typically encouraged. Taking risks was only for the privileged. I believe this cautious approach to life is based on centuries of working hard and being grateful for having a job and food on the table.

My heart broke when my mom said, “Oh, I wish you weren’t leaving Facebook, they have been so good to you.” Ultimately, my parents were fully affirming, knowing that I am a natural-born risk-taker.

Telling the network of diverse leaders that I was leaving was the most difficult part of my transition. I felt like I was abandoning them. So many thoughts raced through my head in those conversations. Was I letting down the under-represented community? Was I letting down the next generation of Latinas? Was I letting down Mark and Sheryl? A sense of guilt loomed over my decision, though there was always something exciting about what opportunities awaited me.

Now, on the other side of it all, I couldn’t be happier with taking this leap. I find solace knowing that my intention as an independent consultant is to take the success at Facebook and my previous experiences to others interested in developing a broader strategy for success. I also feel as passionate about conversations around corporate and community engagement. Let’s talk about about how to effectively work together and make it happen!

Susan Gonzales Consultant, former Facebook executive. Expertise in public policy strategy development with diverse communities.

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Who Wins in the Gig Economy, and Who Loses

Who Wins in the Gig Economy, and Who Loses

The winners and losers in the U.S. economy have traditionally been easy to identify. If you had a full-time job, you won. A full-time job provided the steady income needed to support our traditional version of the American Dream: the highly leveraged, high-fixed-cost house; the cars; the latest consumer goods. A full-time job was also the only way to access important employer-provided benefits, such as health insurance and a pension, as well as protections against workplace injuries, discrimination, and harassment. Without a full-time job, a true sense of security was elusive, benefits were inaccessible, and you were more likely to be stranded on the fringes of the labor market, observing rather than living the American Dream.

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Is This Wildlife Conservation PhD The Steve Jobs Of Impact Investing?

Is This Wildlife Conservation PhD The Steve Jobs Of Impact Investing?

Did the people who met Steve Jobs in 1976 have any inkling that they were talking to the person whose name would for a generation be synonymous with “entrepreneur”? More often, people have believed to have found the next incarnation of Jobs only to be disappointed. Perhaps you can help me determine if the subject of this article could become the Steve Jobs of impact investing.

From my perch in Salt Lake City on the west side of the Rockies, over the last few years I’ve been hearing rumblings from the other side of the mountains. In Denver, Dr. Stephanie Gripne has created one of the most dynamic centers of impact investing and social entrepreneurship in the world. With a goal to catalyze impact investments of over $1 trillion and a plan to get there, it is about time that people outside the Rocky Mountains took note.

Dr. Gripne founded the Impact Finance Center as a partnership between the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business and the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

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Starting Your Own Midlife Internship

Starting Your Own Midlife Internship

“Let’s take some time off.” That’s how Susan Corvino of Pasadena, Calif., remembers her husband’s reaction when her communications job was eliminated four years ago. At the time, her husband was working long hours, so they agreed she would stay home with their three young children.

But returning to work two years later when her youngest daughter began preschool wasn’t so easy. Interviews in her field led nowhere, particularly when she asked for a flexible schedule.

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Working It Out: Is outsourcing your best opportunity?

Working It Out: Is outsourcing your best opportunity?

For many young companies, the pressing question is whether to commit precious resources to a full-time hire — or to outsource some tasks

It’s no secret that Colorado is an entrepreneurial mecca. The state was ranked fourth in startup activity nationwide, with 350 people out of every 100,000 adults becoming entrepreneurs every month, according to The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship.

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Canopy Advisory Group’s “Third Way” Expands to Seattle

Canopy Advisory Group’s “Third Way” Expands to Seattle

Canopy Advisory Group, a Denver-based portfolio of multi-disciplinary consultants who received national attention for offering seasoned professionals a “third way” to approach work-life mix, announced today an expansion to the Seattle market. Canopy’s alternative solution effectively serves both highlancers – professionals with big-firm, big-brand training – who intentionally left the full-time employment landscape and employers seeking strategic support without the nuances of onboarding a new employee.

Complete article at DenverPost.com.

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Canopy Advisory Group’s “Third Way” Speaks to Top New Year’s Resolutions: More Meaningful Work, Reduce Stress

Canopy Advisory Group’s “Third Way” Speaks to Top New Year’s Resolutions: More Meaningful Work, Reduce Stress

According to Forbes*, today’s professional hopes to welcome the New Year with new outcomes including more meaningful work, less stress, and better work-life balance. As these professionals search for career opportunities that are right for them, a third way – something between opting out and leaning in to the big firms – has begun to take hold. One such example of the third way is being coined the “highlancer,” a model proved lucrative for early entrant, Canopy Advisory Group.

The term refers to a new breed of freelance professionals who are highly qualified, having typically attended prestigious undergraduate or graduate schools and later honed their skills at a big firm. Their experience in the corporate world, however, has left them feeling disillusioned, dissatisfied and looking for an alternative.

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Confluence Denver features Canopy as a leader in the rise of the ‘Highlancer’

Confluence Denver features Canopy as a leader in the rise of the ‘Highlancer’

Canopy Advisory Group is featured today in Confluence Denver, a publication that highlights Denver’s game changers with a specific focus on entrepreneurship, startups, place building and arts and culture. We are proud to be a leader helping ‘highlancers’ create fulfilling careers as independent consultants. There is a true third way between opting out and leaning in; we are at forefront of this evolving on-demand workforce and passionate about connecting our talent to the needs of the business and nonprofit communities.  

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Denver Job Market Lures Millennials

Denver Job Market Lures Millennials

Millennials are flocking to the Mile High City, but it isn’t the nearby ski slopes, microbreweries or urban hiking trails that are attracting them: It’s the jobs.

A shared office space called Industry, in the popular River North Art District, stands as an example of the entrepreneurial forces that are luring a flood of young professionals here.

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Working 9-5 Becoming a Less Popular Way to Make a Living

Working 9-5 Becoming a Less Popular Way to Make a Living

If you want an income, or you’re an employer looking for help, it may be time to scrap the idea of the traditional 9-to-5 arrangement.
For workers, it has become easier and less risky to go solo. Affordable health-insurance plans, which kept many workers shackled to traditional jobs, are more accessible because of the Affordable Care Act. And companies are increasingly open to hiring freelancers and independent contractors. Many say independent workers bring fresh ideas without the long-term commitment.

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The On-Demand Economy – Worker on Tap

The On-Demand Economy – Worker on Tap

In the early 20th century Henry Ford combined moving assembly lines with mass labour to make building cars much cheaper and quicker—thus turning the automobile from a rich man’s toy into transport for the masses. Today a growing group of entrepreneurs is striving to do the same to services, bringing together computer power with freelance workers to supply luxuries that were once reserved for the wealthy. Uber provides chauffeurs. Handy supplies cleaners. SpoonRocket delivers restaurant meals to your door. Instacart keeps your fridge stocked. In San Francisco a young computer programmer can already live like a princess.

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Rethink What You “Know” About High-Achieving-Women

Rethink What You “Know” About High-Achieving-Women

As researchers who have spent more than 20 years studying professional women, we have watched with interest the recent surge in attention paid to women’s careers, work-family conflict, and the gender gap in leadership. Among the most visible contributions to this public conversation have been Anne-Marie Slaughter’s 2012 Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” and Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, both of which ignited fierce public debate.

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6 Ways to Make Freelancers Some of Your Most Valuable Employees

6 Ways to Make Freelancers Some of Your Most Valuable Employees

Today’s businesses have a new secret weapon: Employees who are available at any time from anywhere in the world.

Do you need a blog post written, but don’t have the time to do it? What about a new logo? Freelancers are perfect for tasks that you can’t complete internally or those that would be cheaper to outsource.

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Female Lawyers Still Battle Gender Bias

Female Lawyers Still Battle Gender Bias

Despite Advances, Women Still Lag Behind Men in Billing Rate, Management Roles

Despite notching significant gains in the legal world, female law-firm partners continue to lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to billing rates, commanding on average 10% less for their services, according to a new analysis of $3.4 billion in legal work.
Lawyer Patricia K. Gillette said some female rainmakers ‘are not getting the credit for what they do.’ Ramin Rahimian for The Wall Street Journal

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How Tech and Social Go Hand-in-Hand

How Tech and Social Go Hand-in-Hand

Q&A: Brad Feld talks how tech and social go hand-in-hand
With a Klout score of 79 and over 220,000 cumulative followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s safe to say that when Feld talks, people listen.

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For Smaller Projects, Try Renting an M.B.A

For Smaller Projects, Try Renting an M.B.A

Got a small project and a small budget? For some companies nowadays, the solution is simple: Rent an M.B.A. to do the work. Companies get trained talent to help with marketing, financial modeling and investor pitches for a fraction of what they would have to pay big firms like McKinsey & Co. or Boston Consulting Group Inc.

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Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption

Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption

After years of debate and study, in 2007 McKinsey & Company initiated a series of business model innovations that could reshape the way the global consulting firm engages with clients.

One of the most intriguing of these is McKinsey Solutions, software and technology-based analytics and tools that can be embedded at a client, providing ongoing engagement outside the traditional project-based model. McKinsey Solutions marked the first time the consultancy unbundled its offerings and focused so heavily on hard knowledge assets.

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On the Job: Here Come the Supertemps

On the Job: Here Come the Supertemps

Some 58 percent of companies plan to use temporary employees — at all levels — over the next few years, the Harvard Business Review reports. Authors Jody Greenstone Miller and Matt Miller say that temporary employment is no longer limited to administrative assistants, warehouse workers, or other low-level work. High-level people are choosing to work as temporary employees and earning money comparable to what they would have earned as an employee, or even as a partner, in a traditional company.

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