Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have Patti Pokorchak sharing the adventures of her multi-layered life.
Patti at her IBM Graduation[/caption]Until I was 25, I was a pretty normal but driven kid. I skipped Grade 4, graduated with a computer-programming diploma from Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (college) and started working at IBM when I was still a teenager. Having vowed to never go to university, I returned to Ryerson to get not one but two degrees. My first never say never episode. Returned to IBM where I proceeded to make too much money at a young age.
What triggered the need for change?
The fear of regret was the impetus to leave everything behind including a promising career, boyfriend, and lifestyle that was supposedly everything most people would ever want. But, I was neither happy nor content. Having spent six weeks in Europe between my two degrees, I had vowed to return for a longer period of time. I had saved $20,000, so money was not the issue. It was not waiting around for someone else to come with me. Time to act or regret it for the rest of my life!
After my year of travel, I didn’t want to go home, back to all that was so familiar to me. I found a job and place to live in Munich where I had an established base of friends that I had made. My German was pretty basic, but my IBM training was a great foundation. My MBA was not recognized at that time in Germany but my tech background was attractive to startups. Being a foreign female in the technology world had its challenges AND perks. I rapidly made a name for myself, got headhunted for my second job by the American President because my English was so poor (yes, it is my mother tongue but I had so integrated myself into the German language, that my English was rusty).
After four years of working at three start-ups in Germany, it was time to leave, as I had had to change my personality in order to succeed in business in Germany. Life’s too short to do that for long. Plus I had a British boyfriend who lived in Geneva and I loved the British sense of humour as well as their more open and equitable business culture.
With a few months as a ‘homeless’ person (British car, German driver’s license and Canadian passport but officially did not live anywhere), by the time my UK work permit came through, I was ready to be laid off again. Technology – gotta love it. My second company proved to have more staying power and I finally returned to help start their Canadian operation, based in Ottawa.
After trying another large tech company for a horrible seven months, in 1992, I finally said enough and started the first of several businesses. I helped start and run a software company for 10 years before moving to the country and opening up a garden center and hobby farm (Act 4?).
Where are you now?
Back in Toronto, my hometown after my 30-year detour, I’m now the Small Biz Sales Coach — my final business (I swear it is!). After 35 years of selling and starting from being a geeky shy insecure introvert, I know what it’s like to be scared of selling and eventually learning how to have fun with it. I love helping others get over the fear of sales and asking for more money!
To have fun and make money is the only way to live!
Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?
Imagine yourself at age 95 – what would you regret not having done? Those are your dreams of today.
Remember you’ll regret NOT having done something when you’re older and no longer able to do whatever that is.
Just do it!
My Book – The Reinvention Rebel – Live Life Without Regrets!
Make your passion profitable with my proven practical advice!
Where to find Patti…
Patti, thank you for sharing your adventures. You are definitely a poster child for reinvention. I look forward to the release of The Reinvention Rebel.