Chapter 14 – Quitting Corporate

As I began to imagine and pray about the specifics of Story that God wanted me to live, the possibilities were endless. Should I become and international missionary? Maybe I should teach or work for a church? Perhaps, I could start a non-profit? Shamefully, no matter how God-centered and good the story started, it always ended with me writing a book and making a million dollars, which I assumed was more my plan that God’s.

No matter what possibility I dreamt up, none of them involved me staying in my current job. Each time I asked the question: “Do I really think God’s main purpose for my life was to be the greatest semiconductor salesman I could be?”, the answer was always no. Even so, just the thought of leaving my job was ridiculously difficult. I had worked so hard to get the job and the pay and the benefits and the perks were so good! Yet, I spent all day dreaming about what kind of life God had waiting for me if I could only empty my hands.

Over the next few months, I went back and forth about the possibility of quitting my job. Could I really sacrifice the salary? Maybe I could keep my job and just volunteer at a non-profit after work? What if God sends me to be a missionary in Africa or China? I’ve worked so hard to be rich, I don’t want to go back to being poor. But I knew, somewhere deep inside, that it was inevitable that I was going to quit. God was changing my heart and my desires to the extent that everyday at work seemed to be getting longer and less meaningful.

Then one day, I was hanging out at the bookstore and I ran across “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. It had been recommended to me a few of my family members so I decided to give it a try. Little did I know that this book was going to push me over the edge and convince me that I had to quit my job.

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The question now, was how? How should I quit my job? Better yet, since I wasn’t simply moving from one high-tech corporation to another, how should I quit my career? To take it a step further, as I was planning to go from the for-profit world to the non-profit sector, a more appropriate question would be “how should I quit my lifestyle”?

Should I quit “cold-turkey”? Pull a “Jerry Maguire”, make a big scene, and take the gold fish with me? Should I get another job before I quit and try to make a seamless transition? Or should I save up as much money as I can and then take some time off?

Wait a minute… What are my parent’s going to think about all of this?

It was mid-July of 2007 and I had made the decision that I was definitely going to quit. The question was when. As much as I wanted to quit immediately so that I could start living the life God had waiting for me, I just wasn’t ready to make that leap of faith. Instead, I decided I was going to give myself some runway and I set in my mind a quit date of March 2008, right after I was set to receive my annual bonus. This would give me approximately nine months to get my finances in order such that I could take some time off to explore.

Unfortunately, God didn’t seem very happy with my timeline.

Each day of work became more and more pointless when compared to what He might have in store for me. Meetings were torturous and conferences were even worse. What was I still doing here? I felt as though I had been called to something different, yet I was still doing the same old thing.

At that point, I started speaking with some close friends about my plans which seemed to evoke the same emotions over and over again:

“You’ve worked so hard to get here!” they would say. “Do you really want to throw it all away?”

“Are you sure you can’t just do some volunteer work?”

“Does God really call us to be reckless and irresponsible?”

“Perhaps you’re taking this God thing a little too far.”

But with each passing day, I knew that it was only a matter of time. At the beginning of this journey, I would think about a career change ever six months or so, but the feeling would pass and work would be good again. Then, the periods between the feelings of unfulfillment began to grow shorter. At first, I would get anxious to make a change every three months. Then it was every two months and then it was every month that I would have to struggle through a couple really tough days of “I need to get out of here!”

“But this is such a good job?!” I would try to convince myself. “I used to love this job?! It doesn’t make any sense that I’m feeling this way!” And that’s when I realized what was really been going on: It was a great job with great perks and great benefits and none of that had changed. But I had changed!

For the past few months I had been trying to convince myself that it was a terrible job in order to justify my desire to leave, but that just wasn’t the case. It was still a great job, but it just wasn’t the job for me anymore.

If I were twenty-two years old again, I’m sure that it would have still been my dream job, but I’m wasn’t that guy anymore. Twenty-two year old me was different than twenty-eight year old me and I wanted different things now. Yes, it was a great job and it was going to be a great job for someone else in the future, but I had outgrown the position and it was time for me to move on.

It was Monday morning, right after we had a week off for Thanksgiving and I realized that I was supposed to have a conference call with my Area Director that morning to discuss numbers. Up until the week before, my plan was still to hang on until March before submitting my resignation, but I had reached the point where I couldn’t stomach one more minute of the grind and I was about to get on the phone with my boss’s boss to talk about a bunch of shit I didn’t give a rat’s ass about.

“I can’t do it. I can’t bluff one more conference call. I have to quit. I have to quit now.” I thought to myself.

So as not to do anything too rash, I called my trusted advisor Heather as she was an Executive with the company and she would be able to give me a point in the right direction.

“Just submit your letter of resignation and state that your last day will be January 1st so you can finish out the quarter / year and still get your bonuses.” she said.

Simple enough! I had twelve minute before my conference call. Plenty of time to draft a resignation letter! At that point, I would have done anything so as not to half to speak about any more revenue numbers! Not that the numbers were bad, in fact that last quarter was my highest grossing quarter ever. Even so, it was time to write the letter:

November 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Burn,

This letter is to inform you that I will be resigning from my position as the Florida Market Distribution Business Manager for Texas Instruments, effective January 1, 2008.

Over the past five years, my experiences at TI have been nothing short of amazing! I have had ample opportunities to contribute, develop, and succeed, both personally and professionally, and I am absolutely thankful for this. TI and the Florida Sales Team are second to none and it has been an honor to be a part of this winning team.

After taking some time off, I will be pursuing full-time employment opportunities in the non-profit business sector, completely outside of the semiconductor industry. That said, if there is any way I can help out during this time of transition, please let me know.

Omar J. Bravo

Promptly at 9am, my phone rang. It was my Area Director, calling to talk about the numbers.

“Before we begin, I want you to take a look at an email I just sent you. It has my resignation letter attached to it.”

Just like that, my corporate career was finished and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I still had no idea what I was going to do, but I had enough money in the bank to hold me over for a few month until I figured things out.

During that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I made the rounds to all of my clients offices to break the news to them. Reactions were definitely mixed. Most people thought I was crazy to be ditching such a high paying job while others were genuinely happy for me.

“If I could afford it, I’d quit too!” and “Take me with you!” depicted most of the comments I received. All in, it didn’t really matter one way or another. I wasn’t quitting to gain approval from the world. I was quitting because I wanted to change my priorities and thus, change my life.

I believed that God had a plan for me and there was no way to find out what it was without simply following after Him.