Listening to Kaye describe her previous working environment as a sort of second home, I start to wonder what could ever make her leave.  After all, a teacher’s salary and the security of the pension that go along with it aren’t things you easily walk away from.  So why, after 22 years, did she?  Despite having strong connections to the families and students she taught, something was missing.

Finding Fabulous can sometimes be closer to home than you think.  This is Kaye’s story, and this is what she taught me…

Words of Wisdom:

Preparation is key.  Build up enough money to do without a salary for a while.  If you are only concerned about making money you won’t be valuable to your clients.

Key Learning:

I had to learn to set goals, and then just let them go.  Once I started concentrating on being valuable to clients, just like magic, they started showing up!

Definition of Success:

Success for me is having the freedom to pursue my own goals.

 

Although her mother recounts her always wanting to be a teacher growing up, Kaye wavered during university, trying her hand at chartered accounting and clinical psychology before landing herself in teacher’s college.  Perhaps those early experiences affected her enough to give her a different perspective from most of her colleagues.  “I always felt like a square peg in a round hole,” she admits.  The rules and regulations that accompanied structured, federal education were often challenging for Kaye, as she struggled to understand various initiatives and why they were being implemented.  It didn’t provide her enough flexibility or autonomy to express her creativity as an educator.   She adds, “Sometimes I don’t like to play by other people’s rules, especially if I don’t think it is in the best interest of the children.”

More than two decades of frustration and feeling hemmed in hadn’t been enough to instigate change.  Kaye envisioned her future coasting along nicely until retirement, where she would have the freedom to do what she wanted.  Then one day, her eyes were opened to new possibilities, when her teaching partner of 12 years made a bold choice to retire early to explore new artist endeavors.  Seeing how much she blossomed as a result was the push Kaye needed.  She remembered how rewarding tutoring during summer breaks had been for her.  The emotion in her voice is evidence of her passion as she recounts;  “A parent was thanking me profusely when her son, who had struggled for many years prior to working with me, graduated high school with honors.”  Feeling like she could make a bigger difference working with individual students, tailoring her teaching to their needs, she decided to open her own tutoring company.  Finally she would be able to leverage some of the business skills she learned in university, while stretching her creative muscles to find new ways to break through to struggling students.

Although the day-to-day logistics and financial issues of running your own business are part of her new reality, she has already learned a really important lesson.  “I had to switch my way of thinking.  It wasn’t about acquiring clients.  I had to focus on how I was going to be valuable to people,” she says.  Her advice to others interested in taking a similar path, is preparation.  Whether starting your business on the side, while keeping your job, or finding money elsewhere, she believes one should plan for having twice as much as they think they will need.  It can take awhile to get the business up and running, and profitable.  She warns, “Once you become desperate to only make money, you are no longer valuable to your clients.”

Focusing on what value she can offer each client has been her best strategy.    As she started to release her anxieties about money, the clients she needed to make her business successful appeared.  “It was kind of like magic,” she says with a laugh.  Summarizing the main reason for starting her new business, Kaye reveals her definition of success.  For her, it is all about having the freedom to set and pursue her own goals, while being able to support and spend time with her family.  In the end, her ultimate dream is to have something of a legacy she can leave for her children.

As the interview comes to a close, I start to consider how applicable Kaye’s story is to so many people.  She demonstrates what can happen when someone, who already loves what she does for a living, dares to go on a quest to Find Fabulous.  Leveraging skills she already had, tapping into a friend’s experience for inspiration, and being brave enough to try something new, Kaye is building her own version of fabulous.  As for the outcome, it is easy to see how the children she teaches, as well as Kaye herself, are thriving in this newly created, fabulously customized environment.