I’m Trying To Figure It Out
Get to know me + the starts of my podcasting journey
Some backstory on your girl
Before I realized I wanted to move to Israel, I figured that after graduating from the University of Michigan as an Organizational Studies major, I would take some kind of service corps route, either working to strengthen the Jewish communities abroad in Mumbai or Ethiopia, or more locally in the states. I thought that at some point I would create some kind of nonprofit, maybe a community garden and wellness facility in Detroit? Perhaps I would do some kind of consulting for a big name firm? Whatever it was, I wanted to do something big. With impact. Whatever that means.
Those question marks were put on hold when I decided to move to Israel immediately following graduation to join the IDF as a tank instructor for 2 years. Putting professional ambitions aside, at 22 I joined the ranks with the rest of the 18 year olds in the country, learning how to instruct soldiers on tank shooting techniques in Hebrew and facilitate shooting simulations, a mix of frontal classroom instructing and one-on-one training in a simulator. The 6.5 hour weekly commute to base in the middle of the desert, the sharing of a bunk-bedded room with 7 other women, getting interrupted when teaching for someone trying to guess the origin of my accent every day, the gut-punch felt at every meal from the horrific smell of the dining hall… let’s just say I passed on the opportunity to try out for the officer training course. I was trying to keep my head above water, and couldn’t fathom the thought of doing another training or putting in another year of service. Ultimately, I felt extremely fulfilled and proud of my time and efforts, and I felt that I had successfully completed this prerequisite to join Israeli society.
Joining the adults in the real world
After taking the classic “post-army trip to India,” I moved to Jerusalem to work in community building. I had spent a semester at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, so going back to my old stomping grounds after the army felt somewhat comforting. My job in Jerusalem was to help connect young Israelis with new immigrants, religious folks with secular, and help foster community. My target audience was my peers around me; I organized various dinners, events, and workshops, trying to understand what the people wanted and the best way to provide it. Great friends, good food, lots of wine, and the creative control to build and execute programs to help connect people to each other. Good times!
I decided to make the pivot into the tech sector. No tech background, and little understanding of the big startup-nation and all it had to offer, how hard could it be? Did I want to work in content marketing or customer success? Maybe community building at a co-working space? Or is that really just facility management? I couldn’t put my finger on which was the right role for me. The seven month job hunt really taught me how to network and the importance of following up, and ultimately led me to Tel Aviv for a foot-in-the-door position at a corporate venture capital fund.
After a year of learning about corporate innovation, about the talented startups coming out of Israel, and experiencing more than my liking of what a corporate bureaucracy feels like, it was time for the next move. I started working for a corporate startup accelerator program, where we work with startups to help bring their solutions to our customers, and create a win-win-win. My job is to help bring value to our startups, and help communicate their stories to relevant stakeholders. This is where I am today. While I enjoy various elements in this role, I continue to question where I ultimately want to end up, and what steps are needed to get there.
A podcast, you say?
I had been thinking about starting a podcast for a few months. I would play around on Canva trying to make cool graphics that got me excited, thinking of different concepts for a show. A burst of excitement and energy from the thought of starting a podcast would last about two days. No topic was “sticking” or “felt right.” What was I passionate enough about to invest time and energy into for such a side project? I was feeling low on energy and motivation. This would just be another idea I have to add to the laundry list that doesn’t come to fruition.
Despite the uncertainties that ebb and flow in my life, there was one uncertainty that remained constant in my head: what the hell should I do with my life? What do I ultimately want to be doing every day? What do I enjoy doing? What gives me energy and fills me up? Will I ever be happy if I don’t figure out what my passion is and live it? Why do I equate my worth with my work?
There is a lot to unpack here. I clearly cannot figure it out all on my own. I invest a lot of time and energy in self-reflection as well as working through these issues with others.
Importantly, I realized, it’s not just me. A lot of us feel this way. A lot of my friends are in jobs they feel like they should be in. Are we all chasing this ideal of passion and a feeling of fulfilment through our careers? How come so many of my friends equate their worth with the prestige of their job title? What are we after? What’s going on here?
It hit me in the kitchen. Let’s do it NOW
As I was pondering yet again what my career path should look like, I was standing in my Tel Aviv kitchen when I thought — I should really talk to Ronnie! Ronnie Elkus, my dear friend and travel buddy, had recently retired after 30+ years running a successful retail store. I should talk more to him about his job and what fulfilled him! We are so similar. Maybe I need to go into retail? Maybe I need to be more like Ronnie. I need to hear more about his professional journey. I need to set up a call with him to talk about his career. Hell, maybe i’ll interview him and record the conversation! Maybe I should talk to my Dad, too! He went from paperboy to journalist and publisher. Maybe I should do something with these conversations! Maybe this could be helpful to the many people who are trying to figure it out, who want to pursue their passions but don’t know how, or don’t know what their passions are. I texted Ronnie who said he was down for an interview. I called my Dad and said “wouldn’t it be funny if my podcast was about how I don’t know what to do with my life?” as a joke. LOL.
OK! Let’s make this into something! When I get excited about an idea, I spring to action with little strategic planning involved, just impulse. Let’s make a graphic NOW. Let’s announce I’m starting a podcast on Facebook NOW! Let’s tell everyone about it NOW. “Wait.” said a friend. “See if you like it first. Try it out. See how it goes before you go all out. You might hate it! Editing is rough.” Be patient? Test it out before putting it out in the world? This was a challenge for me. My patience was wavering, although of course this was the most rational approach.
My first interview: Dad, of course!
I scheduled my first interview with my dad for the end of June. I wasn’t entirely sure what would come of this interview- would I share it? Would it be an interview series on youtube? Would I really make it into a podcast?
I was nervous! I felt like I was a 4th grader at my Jewish Day School interviewing her hero for a class project. My dad is an excellent speaker and storyteller with quite a journey. My dad shared his wonderful story and gave great insights, and I… I was very hard on myself. I felt like I was interrupting when I would ask a question. I didn’t know how to respond or react to what he was saying. I was far from finding my own voice in this process and felt self conscious about my lack of anything coming from my side of the interview. I also hadn’t even purchased a microphone yet…
We are doing this thing.
It was time to be a big girl and buy a microphone. What an investment! But I have to say, buying the microphone is what made it feel real. It made me feel like I could do this. It energized me. I went on to interview Ronnie and started to find my voice. I devised a plan to debut my podcast with 5 episodes. I started by interviewing friends in my network who I felt comfortable with, who each have pretty amazing stories that I thought would be interesting and insightful to others. I started learning how to edit out “likes” and “ums” and sound clicks. When I made a teaser post on facebook that I was doing a podcast, I was immediately hit with a wave of anxiety. Who is going to listen to this!? What am I doing!? Who am I to do this?! The imposter syndrome kicked in REAL STRONG and my nervous stomach and pounding heart made me question everything. After some pep talks from friends, I tried to relax. What’s the worst case scenario? Nobody listens. And… that’s ok! I am doing this for ME. Exploring this new potential passion. Talking to people and hearing their stories (which I LOVE!)
So here we are…
I have now shared 12 episodes of What Should I Do With My Life? Figuring It Out From Those Who (Seem to) Have It All Figured Out. I get nervous before each episode. I am finding my voice. I love connecting with others. I still struggle editing with Garage Band. I am trying to figure out a marketing strategy to get these unique stories heard. I learn so much from each special person who joins me on the show. I am trying to share these stories to those who are also on a journey of self and career exploration. Who want to make a career pivot. Who are trying to find their passion, or trying to make their passion a central part of their working day. Who are trying to figure it out.
I hope this story resonates with you. I hope these 12 stories resonate with you. I invite you to stay up to date on the latest episodes of the show here: https://anchor.fm/stephanie-horwitz.
And as for the rest of my story, stay tuned.