How To Know It's The Right Time For A Career Leap

AHAlife founder Shauna Mei had a dream job at Goldman Sachs when entrepreneurial fever took hold--but she didn't immediately act on it. Here's how to recognize the right time.

AHAlife founder Shauna Mei believes that if you're truly meant to do something, the moment of clarity will be easy to identify. And if it's not, don't take the leap.

Before she founded the luxury e-commerce hub (and one of 2013's Most Innovative Companies), Mei had a "dream job" working in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. And yet, her entrepreneurial vision was at the forefront of her mind.

“I went to my boss and said, I’m thinking about starting my own company. What do you think?” said Mei. That boss told her that the fact that they were having that conversation meant she wasn't ready. And he gave her some revealing insight on how she'd know the time was right. A short while later, his premonition proved correct, and she left Goldman to start AHAlife.

Shauna Mei

Despite the fact that she was jumping into the ring with industry titans like Gilt Groupe and Amazon, her gamble has paid off. AHAlife’s high-fashion, hyper-curated platform is turning heads in the e-commerce industry and in less than 3 years, the company has expanded to include 45 employees, 187 countries and it now accepts 48 currencies worldwide.

Bottom Line: Knowing the right time to break out means waiting for "a moment of clarity where you’re absolutely 100% determined that this is what I’m meant to do."

[Video produced by Shalini Sharma // Camera & Edit by Tony Ditata]

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10 Comments

  • Cazzzjames

    Do it with no money in the bank, one to three kids, bad credit, no collateral or anyone to help you along and give you advice and with no one else believing in what you want and no contacts. If you can do that, I want to hear about so everyone can become wealthy. Oh yea don't tell me to work somewhere for a long time and try to save money and live like crap, that is bull crap. Around 90% of those that become wealthy have lots of help or lots of contacts that want to help.

  • Ria Fernandez

    I work for Fashionbi Newspaper, and ive been doing research particularly on luxury ecommerce websites who are making it big. I think its inspiring to read about people like this. Yes, Im sure she was able to launch her business via earning money from her previous career, but it still takes a lot of courage to leave what has made you comfortable. And lets face it, she wouldn't have been able to otherwise. Goldman Sachs - which is already impressive - was simply a stepping stone. There are people who dream big, and there are the people who are actually able to achieve it.

  • Annalie Killian

    I've just returned from an extended Spring Break to contemplate my moment and strategy for break-out too. The entrepreneurial spirit has never left me despite the fact that I have seen 51 birthdays. A great role with lots of freedom with a great company, earning a good income as sole parent of two kids has set a higher threshold for making damn sure that I don't make a bad decision. Like Shauna says, you have to let it emerge. You also need to give it SPACE to emerge. Which is how an 8-day  time-out break in a relaxed environment far far away from work has helped me. I seeded my subconscious mind with questions I have been pondering for a long time ( 2 years!) and much to my surprise, when I least expected it, clarity and certainty emerged. The most important thing was to immediately seize that insight and energy to plan the strategy and execution of my next step- and that included both an all-out as well as a stepped approach that allows me to test the waters without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I have picked my timing- 3 months out at the conclusion of a career milestone around IP i created and developed- something I don't want to walk away from but leverage in the re-invention of my next stage. For this reason, maintaining trust and relationships with my employer of the past 14 years will be important. But I feel so relieved to have "seen" the route out- I was unable to act till I had a clear vision. 

  • george clooney

    The real takeaway: with the salary and connections you make at goldman sachs, you can start up a company no problem. 

  • Cindie Klein

    This looks like the icecap on a terrific story- great introduction to this rising enterprising female star

  • Valerie

    Not sure I agree. Sometimes that moment of clarity never comes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take a risk. With great risk comes great reward. Don't wait for some lightning bolt to come down from the sky...take a leap and go after what you want.

  • JoelABryan

    Clearly she was not afraid to fail, what gave her that confidence and what was her backup plan?