4 helpful tips for starting over

Madlen Popignatova 17
Article by: Sophie Poulsen
4 helpful tips for starting over

It's the beginning of a new year, a time for fresh starts, blank slates, and new beginnings... Or is it?


Changing your behavior takes more than changing your mind. Whether you're simply thinking about making a change or already jumping into a new opportunity, take some advice from THNK participants who have experienced "starting over":







Hear the supporters and the critics

starting over
'Hear the supporters and the critics… Their voices are important. They help you move forward and stay grounded.' – #THNKer Ruth Wilson Click To Tweet

Ruth left a large pharmaceutical company to start a nonprofit that explores what it truly means to be healthy.

In October 2015, I moved to Amsterdam to take an amazing job: Global Head of Patient Advocacy at an international pharmaceuticals company. I worked with a fun and energetic team, I had a great boss, and I was growing professionally. I felt enabled and I was happy.

As with any job, there are frustrations. In late 2017, the company announced a significant restructuring. I was retained, yet felt disappointed.

I joined THNK Class 13 in March 2018. The very first day was also my birthday: THNK was a present to myself. It gave me space to explore my “what if” ideas. The faculty and my classmates helped me strengthen my confidence and in August – between module 2 and 3 – I made the change. I stepped away from my job, I freed myself from a corporate agenda, and my ideas started to become real. The first #PersonBeforePatient was born.

Emotionally, I felt elated and terrified all at the same time. I had spent the majority of my working life in a structured working environment, with a regular paycheck. I also felt passionate about the new, and this made me feel calm – the eye of the storm; chaos around me, but in the middle there was a peacefulness.

#PersonBeforePatient is now an incorporated and registered not-for-profit organization in the Netherlands. We are exploring what it means to be healthy: physically, emotionally, socially, environmentally, and economically.

Find your purpose and run with it

starting over
'It is not about the place where you work; it is about the purpose that you were called to fulfill on a daily basis.' – #THNKer @johanmrllo Click To Tweet

Johan left HP to start LEAD&PLAY, a studio dedicated to empowering leaders to unlock creativity and collaboration to produce positive, vital change.

When I started LEAD&PLAY, I was not leaving the corporate world; I was embracing what the corporate world taught me. HP was my school, my boot camp, my sandbox. It was the place where I learned that amazing experiences could start in a garage, in a space where you can create and design solutions for others.

I left my own doubts and fears about how I could continue developing my career behind. The fact is I was leaving opportunities within the company and it felt awkward. It was a tough moment and a transformational one at the same time.

In the end, I learned that it is not about the place where you work; it is about the purpose that you were called to fulfill on a daily basis. I jumped out in order to create a new space for myself, my own garage, a place to unleash the power of play in me, so that I can empower leaders to unlock their own creativity and collaboration to produce vital changes, even in the corporate world.

Embrace the journey

starting over
'It's okay not to have all the answers and to be scared. Take it as a journey and be open to all the opportunities that are out there.' – #THNKer Karen Rauschenbach Click To Tweet

After spending 15 years in the aerospace industry, Karen founded the Blue suit to empower women through ethical fashion.

One question has bothered me for a while: Can you do business while doing good?

I am a mother of twin girls and I want to provide my share of protecting our blue planet for generations to come. And I believe that impact-driven business models are one of the major keys to doing that.

To transition, I needed guidance and a plan – so I took a 15-month sabbatical. After taking a course at Oxford University to learn about the basics of social entrepreneurship, I joined THNK. I found my tribe of inspiring kickass leaders from around the world, all driven by the same idea on how we can solve the world’s most pressing problems. During the THNK program, I started to work on the Blue suit.

The decision of whether to go back to the corporate world or continue my journey with the Blue suit was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Somehow, going back felt like letting my dreams go and quitting my job was too scary. My family was very supportive and so was my THNK tribe. I thought, “If I don’t do this now, I will never start my own company.”

the Blue suit has been on the market since September. My Co-Founder Yvonne, a denim designer by heart, and I worked hard to find the right organic materials to provide working women an alternative to fast fashion. The feedback from the market has been very positive – and this is just the beginning.

Make it work

starting over
'For me, it did help to ask, 'What do I have to lose?' And the answer was: You'll figure it out, You'll make it work.' – #THNKer Leon Varitimos Click To Tweet

Leon is just beginning his transition from Communication Director at Greenpeace to Head of Communications at FlixBus.

Being someone who needs challenge and excitement in his job, I never expected to stay for almost nine years with Greenpeace when I joined the organization as a press officer. What kept me engaged were the countless opportunities and adventures that crossed my path. In 2017, I joined the management team and set up a responsive and agile campaigning department, a first for Greenpeace.

In Dutch, we have a saying that roughly translates to, “Stop at your highpoint,” which is what I’m doing now. Love had been calling me to München for a while, but I couldn’t let go of my pride and joy at Greenpeace before I found an even bigger and more exciting challenge. Becoming Global Head of Communication at FlixBus is exactly that. Working for this young and booming company that is offering a green and affordable way to travel the world is a dream come true. Being only a bike ride away from my partner is an amazing benefit!

To follow your passion and embrace your journey of starting over, join the THNK Executive Leadership Program.