I'm a 3rd generation Canadian, born in Toronto and raised in Vancouver, BC. After high school I accepted a full-ride athletic scholarship to play D1 field hockey in the USA, regretted that decision, and returned to Canada to finish my degree with an honours specialization in Media, Information, and Technology with a Minor in Creative Writing from Western University in Ontario. Straight out of school I landed a job at the world’s largest independent public relations agency, Edelman, and spent the next little while in the fast-paced, multi-faceted, full-scale digital marketing and traditional media advertising campaign world, and loving it.
I felt like I could have stayed at Edelman for my entire career, but one day my boyfriend asked me a question that changed the course of my life:
"if you quit, would they take you back?"
He wanted to travel with me, I didn't have the freedom, and this single question shifted my mindset so that I no longer saw my coveted job in PR as something to lose, but as a huge industry I could return to after some time away. I gave my notice and booked a one-way ticket to Kathmandu, and spent the next three months travelling through Nepal, Thailand, and Indonesia with my boyfriend and my brand new DSLR.
I came back from that trip completely broke and spent the following 12 months in a funk. I didn't have a job, didn't have money, and didn't know what I was supposed to do with my life next. I knew I wanted to work in media, photography, and PR, but I couldn't find any available jobs that felt right for me. The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to return to another 9-5. I couldn't get past the thought of how little of this world I would see with only two weeks vacation per year.
My boyfriend took care of me all year long - bless his loving soul - and it gave me space to self-educate. I taught myself how to build websites on WordPress, edit in Photoshop, and cut simple videos in Premiere. I read books like Tim Ferriss' 4 Hour Work Week, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, and The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I tried to make the most of my unemployment phase by adding to my skill set and growing as a human, but the truth is that I was constantly struggling with a negative headspace - from wasting my life, being a burden to people I love, and feeling so frustrated that I couldn't seem to bridge the gap between making money and maintaining freedom. Why did it have to be one or the other, but never both?
I turned to vision boarding during my personal all-time low when my mom surprised me with all the supplies to make one after watching an episode of Oprah. I pieced mine together with one question in mind:
If I could live out the perfect day, every day, for the rest of my life, and have my finances taken care of in the process, what would that day look like?
My board reaffirmed that I wanted to work remotely, travel, create content, and celebrate the finer things in life, but I never would have guessed that this exercise would be the catalyst out of my slump and into the next chapter of my life. Shortly after completing it, I landed the exact job I had described on my board. It was a social media role in the cruise industry that was listed as an in-house 9-5 position, which I was able to negotiate into full-time remote work in the interview for the job itself. I suppose I should have been willing to take any job at that point, let alone a job that paid nearly double my previous salary and was also in the travel industry, but I knew from the job description that everything could be done from anywhere, and since the 'remote work' aspect was the only missing piece from my vision board, I explained that I was only interested in the role if I could do it on a full-time remote basis. It was definitely a gamble on my part, but my future boss accepted on the spot. As they say.. if you don't ask, the answer is always no.
I loved having full-time work without having to go into office every day, but my boss made sure I had plenty to do so that I had no time to do anything but work if I was to accomplish everything I was responsible for. There was enough stuff on my plate that if I wanted to fulfill my role requirements without cutting corners, I would need to operate at 900% capacity, all day, every day.
This situation lead me into the world of virtual partnerships, digital efficiency software, and outsourcing. I never could have excelled in this role otherwise. In a few months I was able to turn my task-based coordinator position into a management role by outsourcing 97% of my responsibilities to people I hired off of websites like Elance and Fiverr to fulfill the tasks remotely, and together, my tele-team and I increased the total social media exposure for this company from 21.7 thousand impressions per month, to 21.6 Million, over the 8 months I was with the company... and I made it happen from behind my laptop in the Caribbean, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Once I had this system figured out, I began working independently with other companies to execute similar systems as well as create custom content on their behalf. This is when sociallume.com was born, my social media consultancy, which I continue to run on a 100% remote basis to this day. Since June 2013 I have worked in various capacities with several notable brands including The Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La, Four Seasons, and the Dorchester Collection hotels. I now spend 6-8 months of the year travelling for content creation & influencer campaigns, and the remaining 4-6 months working from home in Vancouver.
Aside from running my business, I'm incredibly passionate about encouraging others to do their own thing. The 9-5 system isn't a good fit for everyone, and it can be tough to find genuine happiness while relying on life advice from other people. If there's one thing my experience has taught me, it's that the name of the game is to figure out what you enjoy doing, and to combine that something with your natural talents in a way that helps other people. Our days dissolve at the same rate regardless of whether we spend them numbing ourselves from the life we have or actively creating a happy life we're proud to live, so why not choose happy?