On “Leaning In” and following my passion

I recently left my job to pursue a career in the craft beer industry.  No job offer, I just left. After 8+ years in marketing, I’m following my passion and making thoughtful decisions about where I want my life to go from here… and do you know what the best part is? I’m not afraid. Not afraid to fail, and perhaps more importantly, not afraid to succeed.

For years (seriously, years!) I thought of changing careers, feeling like I wasn’t reaching my full potential at my current company. Each time I thought of leaving, it just didn’t feel right. I hesitated because I felt like asking for more was asking for too much. After all, I liked my job! I was good at the work I did; I had built friendships with my coworkers; I made a decent salary, had plenty of leeway to  make my own decisions about how my role was structured within the company… to many of my friends, I had it made! With so many people facing company layoffs and unemployment, it felt wrong not to just be satisfied with the career I had.

hesitatedBut finally, through a mix of careful preparation and spontaneous bravery, the timing felt right and I made my move. I left on my terms, with nothing but words of thanks and encouragement from my boss and coworkers… it felt great!

In the weeks since, I’ve been pursuing a number of career opportunities in the craft beer industry and my decision to change careers is continually reaffirmed by people around me. However, I find myself unexpectedly struck by how insightful this experience has been for me as a woman.

This morning, I came across part of a story on NPR about Disruptive Leadership, in which they speak with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, about cultivating women leaders. They reference a TED Talk Sandberg gave in 2010, about stagnation for women achieving leadership roles, and a follow-up interview with Pat Mitchell from 2013. As I listen to her speak, light bulbs go off and I find myself nodding… Not because what she’s saying is anything that I haven’t thought about before, but because it hits home, especially now. I am reminded that it’s OK to acknowledge my talents and accomplishments, and own them without feeling guilty, or that I’m being arrogant, too aggressive, etc.

The reason I post this here, on a blog about craft beer, is two fold. First, this blog has always been about my personal beer journey and the decision to work in the industry is a huge part of that. But I also want to connect Sanberg’s point to women in the beer industry, and how, even though progress is being made and we’re seeing more women enjoying and working in beer, we remain an underrepresented demographic. Krystal Baugher helps illustrate the problem in a recent article for theAtlantic.com:

In Colorado, one of the most brewery-rich states in the country with 154 individual facilities, there are only 10 women total who are known to be a part of the main brewing process.  The main obstacles that women continue to face in this industry include perceptions of taste, media influence, and preconceived notions about their skill and ability.

So, I’m sitting at the table and raising my hand, and I’m not afraid to be called on, and I’m not sorry. I won’t go on and on, because you need to follow the links above and listen to Sheryl Sandberg speak. Thank you, Sheryl, for saying that the status quo is not enough.

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Categories: Craft Beer Jobs

Author:Amy Ellsworth

Amy Ellsworth is The Craft Beer Girl. Follow her as she discovers the world of craft beer through brewery tours, beer festivals, reviews and homebrewing. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and .

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13 Comments on “On “Leaning In” and following my passion”

  1. Alexis
    October 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM #

    As a woman in her early 20’s this was truly inspiring. All the work that you have accomplished is so amazing to see. It gives me hope that I will be able to one day as well take a stand and make my voice heard in an industry that I find so intriguing. I hope to also work in the marketing and communications of the craft beer industry because it is lacking the female representation of an untapped market, the women who truly love beer. Keep up your awesome and inspiring work. You are a great motivator and inspiration to us all.

    • October 21, 2014 at 11:49 AM #

      Alexis,

      Thank you so much for your comment! As a woman in her early 30’s, I remember what life was like, just a short decade ago… your 20’s can be a confusing time!

      My advice to you is this: work hard and have fun, trust your instincts, don’t be so hard on yourself, and stand up for yourself when you need to.

      Whether it’s work, relationships, big life decisions, or just figuring out which outfit to wear… you know yourself better than anyone, which makes you the most qualified person to decide which path you’ll take next.

      Cheers, my dear. These are exciting times!

      -Amy

  2. May 3, 2014 at 2:07 PM #

    Did you find a job in craft beer?

  3. Krystin
    April 7, 2014 at 10:24 PM #

    This is why I absolutely love being involved in the craft revolution. Women are not as well represented as they could be, but they are quickly proving they are a force to be reckoned with. I feel that the industry is blossoming into a more welcoming atmosphere compared to other fields that women in general have encountered. And as for making that (now fairly recent) leap, kudos. Our entire family slowly transitioned into making the leap from “traditional” careers into ones of self employment and ownership. It can be very rewarding to follow your heart into change!

  4. March 23, 2014 at 11:26 AM #

    Awesome! May you Lean In, Sip Up & Taste Your Way! 😉

  5. Miss Lupulin
    March 11, 2014 at 4:43 PM #

    Good luck, Amy! Making that leap is so, so scary (and not one I’ve been able to fully take, yet). You are a serious inspiration.

  6. Adam Byrd
    January 29, 2014 at 11:44 PM #

    This is awesome and inspiring! I haven’t quite left yet, but I am already starting to pursue a craft beer position! 😉

  7. January 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM #

    Congrats Amy and kudos! It takes a lot of strength to do this. I did it myself at the end of 2011. I spent those first 6 months of 2012 getting certified as a life coach. Wow, did I discover so many ingrained thought processes holding me back!

    As you know, my Craft Beer Bio and The Wort Series’ are all about empowering others to discover the skills and traits brewers and brewery owners utilize to lead their own fulfilling professional lives.

    Feel free to reach out if you “get stuck” as you explore your new path.

    • January 24, 2014 at 5:51 PM #

      Thanks, Joe! I’ll definitely keep that in mind… I’m sure I will hit some bumps in the road ahead, but I’m ready for the challenge!

  8. January 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM #

    Congratulations! For some reason the hardest thing to do in America is leave a job you don’t enjoy. The hard part is behind you with limitless possibilities ahead.

  9. January 22, 2014 at 1:09 PM #

    This is really encouraging and I am glad to hear you are following your calling. Thanks for sharing it and motivating others. I trust you will lead the way. Congrats!

  10. January 21, 2014 at 8:16 PM #

    Congratulations on your decision! I look forward to hearing about the new journey you are beginning

    • January 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM #

      Thanks so much, Sarah! Cheers to more women in beer!

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