9 Lives for Women Blog

Baby Steps to Big Reinventions | March 26th, 2013

Reinvention is one of those words that brings to mind people of great strength and force. The fact is, though, that many women who are masters in reinvention experience healthy fear and trepidation as they reach toward a new work or life stage.

With an email moniker that includes “on the go”, and an impressive resume that covers many pages, one would think that Janet Verney of Higganum, Connecticut leaps with great confidence from one career to another. To the contrary: she says each new move has required a confidence boost and often the ability to take baby steps toward big goals.

Today Janet is the engine behind a biotech start-up (the fifth one she has helped build). But her career had much more humble beginnings—when she taught nursery school in a small suburban town.

Janet wasn’t just a nursery school teacher for too long. While still a young teacher in her 20s she took a deep breath and assumed the responsibilities of assistant director. Then she took a deeper breath and became the regional manager of the fourth largest childcare company in the U.S. Then the same woman who had once built Lego structures with toddlers became the director of operations for the childcare company—managing a $22 million division and building new schools throughout the northeast.

The pace of reinvention continued until Janet’s son was born and she had to cut down on travel. She took a brief hiatus from the workforce, volunteering in her community and taking on occasional freelance work as an educational consultant.

Soon Janet was itching to work again—but this time closer to home. She saw a newspaper ad for a job at a biotech company that aroused both interest and fear. The role of “coordinating director” seemed to have parallels with her operations work at the child care company—but the biotech field seemed out of her realm.

When Janet realized many of her skills could easily be transferred into this new industry (hiring staff, creating structure for divisions, financial oversight, facility management, etc.), she decided to throw her hat in the ring. She got the job and the informal title of “Jane of All Trades”—managing every aspect of the business that supported ground-breaking scientific work.

After orchestrating multiple biotech start-ups, Janet is now preparing for her next reinvention. This is not something she will do tomorrow—she’s following a baby step approach and holding fear of income dips at bay. While still working full-time in the biotech field, she has pursued certification as an integrative health counselor (remember that email moniker, “on the go”!). She is building a web site for women and girls focused on health and wellness and “recipes for life”, www.optimizeyourbesthealth.com.

Another baby step has been research among community organizations to see what’s being offered in the nutrition niche. This led to a request from one organization to develop a curriculum for middle school girls—bringing her back full circle to her early teaching roots.

When Janet finally steps boldly into her new reinvention, she will be fully ready—financially, professionally and emotionally. She’s a big believer in positive thinking and planning—and her reinventions have been inspired by a “vision board” that illustrates how she wants her life to unfold.  She allows herself the vision, but never holds herself to any deadline for change. With a lot of practice, she’s learned the reinvention baby steps that reduce fear and increase success. —KAS

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