Season 1
45 Minutes

Ep. 33 | Ozlem Brooke Erol | How I Became a Corporate Drop-Out


Ozlem Brooke Erol, born in Turkey and now a Southern Californian, passionately champions a more purposeful world. Ozlem worked at IBM for 11 years and held positions as VP of Sales and Marketing in several other companies. Ozlem left her native Istanbul at the age of 33 to come to the US with her family.

A happy corporate drop-out, Ozlem launched two businesses that support a greater sense of personal purpose and more humane places of work. Brooke is a co-author of “From Hierarchy to High Performance” and the solo author of “Create a Life You Love: Reflections on Living Life to the Fullest.”

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These show notes come via the Otter.ai service. The transcription is imperfect. But hopefully, it’s close enough – even with the errors – to give those who aren’t able or inclined to learn from audio interviews a way to participate.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  00:00

I lost all my identities when I came here. As a work, somebody who works for IBM, you build the identity even around that, oh, I work for IBM now. I mean, there’s that, or I’m coming from this intellectual family, well, no family here, or I went to the best schools that are available to me in Turkey. And in Turkey. If I say what, which schools, I have graduates from immediately, like, You’re like a Harvard graduate, right? Everybody knows what it takes you to get there. So here you lose all of that.

Achim Nowak  00:35

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans, who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you’re listening on. Let’s get started.  I am just so happy to welcome Ozlem Brooke Erol to the My fourth podcast. Ozlem is a Turkish American Trailblazer who champions a more purposeful world, both in our individual life choices and in our places of work. As Lim worked at IBM for 11 years and held positions as VP of sales and marketing in several other companies. She left her native Istanbul at the age of 33. To come to the United States with her family. I think of Ozlem as a happy corporate dropout. Via her business, your best life Inc, or Ozlem has helped individuals to more deeply connect with their dreams and passions. She’s also one of the co authors of the wonderful book from hierarchy to high performance, and committed to helping humanize our places of work. Welcome, Ozlem.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  02:00

Thank you. Thanks for having me. unfort. Such a nice introduction. Thank you for being here with me.

Achim Nowak  02:07

Oh, my pleasure, thank you. For both of us being together in this moment. I just had a confession first, I was interested in what you do for so many reasons. But on a very personal note, I am a German man who spent part of his childhood in Turkey. And I know that you are from Turkey from a city that I adore. And I hope we get to talk about that as well. Before we get into what what you’re doing now, which is really cool. When you were a young girl growing up and you stumble? Who did you think you want it to be when you grew up?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  02:43

Good question. I think I had I didn’t have one dream, but several, and I think it changed over time. One of them was definitely because I was reading a lot of books. I thought like Why don’t I become a writer one day and write one of these books. So that was definitely one of them. That stayed with me until now, obviously, but then I at some point, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, because I love being around kids. Those are the two that I can remember vividly. I’m sure there were some others. But those two just came to me as soon as you asked that question.

Achim Nowak  03:20

And you have written what one book of your own, you’ve contributed to another. So you have been a writer, you are a writer, and there may be many more books lurking in your mind. Who knows?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  03:34

Yes, and I can actually contributed to four or five different books out like but the ones that I always say is, of course, the two that you already mentioned in the introduction. But my first one was very early on probably I was 18 when a little piece that I wrote was like, publish at a Turkish book. So I was getting very excited about that at the time. Yeah, I remember that for sure.

Achim Nowak  04:00

Yeah. So you definitely have a streak of a writer inside of unit started early. Wonderful.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  04:06

That’s my therapy, I think.

Achim Nowak  04:09

what’s what’s therapeutic about it, I’m a writer too. So I fully understand but what’s therapeutic for you about writing.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  04:16

I think like I’ve been writing my at least I have my diary since I was seven. It’s just like sharing what’s happened to you your feelings with the paper in front of you, I think gets it out of your system instead of staying up there in your mind. And I think just really, and then the second part of it is if I also share with share them, whatever I write, I think it’s also the sharing piece that helps me heal too. Because then you find one more person who feels the same way or agrees with you and say, Oh, I’m a human being. So there’s the different levels of writing that helps me I think,

Achim Nowak  04:55

nice. Now I mentioned introduction that you left is assemble a 33. But let’s look at your life before then. In my mind, it’s a beautiful city that I know well from my own childhood. I believe you worked for IBM while you were in Turkey. Is that correct? Correct? Yes. And I know when we hear a company like IBM, which is so iconic, I have a hunch said that there was some highlights some wonderful things where you would think, gosh, this is why I loved what I got to do at IBM. But there also may have been moments where you go, Why the hell am I doing and let’s talk about IBM first. And then let’s talk about his temple is a city but take us through the highs and the lows of that period in your life.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  05:41

Sure, if we start with work, of course, I was thrilled to be working for IBM. And you know, at the time, at least, there were like three, four different interviews that you had to go through. And they were doing the stress test on you, which you be tabled to take that much stress at work and everything. So it was a whole different way of getting hired, I think. But at the end, just joining the company, and international well known company, which was I think, in the top 100 Fortune Magazine, like companies was a great thing to achieve, because she was so big at the time for me. And then to get to meet a lot of people around me, I still have some of them friends for life, we had an amazing group of people who worked with me, and our company, our offices was so nice and beautiful. We had the best cafeteria in town. And then of course, the I think the most important part of it was really they were investing so much in us. I was learning so much that I’m still using to this day with our soft skills, like lots of different things that makes us a better person. Besides making a good employee. I think I owe them a lot about what I have learned when I was working there. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  07:03

Well, this that what you just said, it’s such a beautiful testimonial to workplaces that invest in the people that work there. And I know this from my own life when somebody Invest in me, I commit to you, I feel valued, I do better work. You’d say this so beautifully. Was there any dark side at all? Anything any frustrations, challenges, were a days where you maybe were tearing your hair out?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  07:30

You know what, like, it made me think I always had that dream. At some point. While I was working there, I came to a place where I wasn’t so happy. Obviously. That’s why I quit my job on my own too. But I was this dream, like, what if I leave everything on my desk on touch and disappeared and never come back. So that’s not a good dream for the managers and supervisors. But that was one for me. I think I didn’t in hindsight, I know what was bothering me. I think it was a conflict of values, which is so true for so many people now that I work with clients of my own. It’s always some conflicting values. Like it was always short term, like goals that the company had. And I had amazing relationships that I built with my customers and I treasured that I love that. Because I’m such a people person, I think the best part of my work was to build those relationships with my clients. But then when I was forced to sell them more, which was like products that are in the million dollar zone at the time, I was like so not happy with being pushed to sell more when I believe they didn’t need that. And it was only short term goals of the company or the shareholder value. And those things were very, very difficult on my emotional state of being. So those things did not work for me at all, for sure.

Achim Nowak  08:58

Since you mentioned that you left on your own. What pushed you over the edge? Like what happened where Ozlem went? I’m out of here.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  09:07

Yeah. So first of all, I think after five, six years of working there, I did start the purpose question, which was not commonplace at all. But I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know what triggered me. But I really specifically remember the day even that I asked myself, what’s my purpose of working here? Not only doing my daily tasks, my customers my proposal, preparing those and everything I said, like, Who am I contributing to by working here? And since if you said it out loud, nobody had an answer to that, let alone thinking that it’s a good question to ask yourself, they shut you down immediately. I had to do the answering of that question on my own. And that made a difference for me because I found out that what I’m doing every single day aim was to help my clients help their own clients serve them in a much better way, because of the technology, I was able to offer them. Just to say that made me feel better about what I do, because it’s not only daily repetitive, mundane tasks, but oh, I’m serving something in my own country, because of this international company that I’m working for. But the next question, of course, that followed at the time people work for the same company for their whole lifetime. I said, like, does this gonna satisfy me as a person as Ozlem? Because Is that something that’s fulfilling to me? No, the answer was no. And that’s when I said, Okay, obviously, this is not the right thing for me. But did I know what was right for me? Not at all. But I felt like, I’m getting physically sick, too. Right away. So that was, of course, a big red flag for me all the value, conflicting things that I was doing, and also not feeling like so purposeful, and aligned with what I’m doing. Like really pushed me to the edge. In our terms. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  11:11

Because I’m really curious, because you described it beautifully. You were in Turkey, it almost probably felt like a privilege to work for these big American company. It’s a prestigious company, like you’re so in quotation marks fortunate to work there. How did people react when you quit your job? People in your circles? What did they say?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  11:35

No, on the river, very, very few people who could understand it, first of all, because you know, everybody, when they asked why you left, everybody wants to have some analytical, amazing left brain, like satisfying answers. And I in that did not have any of those except what I shared with you, I wasn’t aligned with what I was doing, I wasn’t aligned with the values, I wasn’t aligned with the short term gain of helping their holders be happy. So a lot of people could not be supportive, because they really didn’t understand what I was trying to do. And the second thing is I didn’t have anything lined up after that. So that was surprising. And the third thing, I wasn’t wealthy to be on my own for years to come with a lot of savings. So it was very shocking and surprising. Especially I think, of course, the family my mom still did not get over it. So she didn’t leave IBM, although she knew I was getting sick, and I wasn’t happy. So I mean, at the time, right now, there’s so many people who are putting their corporate jobs, it’s just a normal thing. But it was not normal. So I did kind of feel like I’m the black sheep or something. I did feel strange or weird or odd in some ways.

Achim Nowak  12:55

Yeah. I’m really curious, because many people fantasize about, especially when people get older, to Oh, let me go to another country and start a new life and do something different. You know, a lot of Americans retire dream about retiring in Costa Rica, and these sexy and expensive places. You at the age of 33, you and your family left Istanbul, which is a glorious city, that I happen to know well, to come to a very different country, very different kind of life. What prompted you all to make that move?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  13:37

Look lot of different things. But I think the main and the major one was to, like many immigrants in the whole world do it for the same reason, from what I see, is to give a better life for their children, at least with the hope of giving them a better life. What we were seeing in Turkey back in Turkey, just like what I told you about on my work life, if I’m not aligned with my values, I’m in trouble. I don’t feel good, I get sick. The same thing applied to when we had our son. We felt like we couldn’t teach him the same values we were raised with because he would not survive, or he wouldn’t be happy in Turkey. So and then since we were like traveling people we have seen Europe and United States so many times. We felt like we could give him a better life. So that was number one for us for both my husband and I. And I think we did have some adventurous part in us to try different lives and see what it works. And we had no idea how long we were gonna stay. But we wanted to try this thing on and we got the Green Card Lottery, but of course we weren’t the ones to apply for it. Right. We had an intention to move out of the country and it could have been Europe because we looked at Europe as well, but also to states and I always felt comfortable coming here for one reason or another. Before we even move to when I came to United States, every time I came here, I felt like, Oh, this feels so familiar, maybe because I went to American schools back in Turkey to I was like, raised by my parents, but also raised by American teachers, I read so many American books in my library, because I’m such a big reader too. And then I went to an American college and had all my classes in English, then I joined the American company. So I think there’s definitely something in there, that got embedded in me that I found familiar with the American cultures. And the very last one, but also very important to me was I had experienced when I was 20, to go to a youth camp in Italy, and I loved love loved being around. It’s like people from 60 different countries, I said, Oh, my God that we are so the same. Why is this political world doesn’t look like that and look at these people, I love them all. And I wanted to live in a place where I could definitely be in a much more diverse environment than my country was able to provide. So all it’s a blend of all of that that brought us here really,

Achim Nowak  16:21

as somebody like you, I’m an immigrant to the United States, I came here when I was 16. And I was in Turkey before then, the experience of changing countries, it’s very familiar to me. And especially since you went as a mature adult. And I want to invite you to tell this story for everybody who’s listening was thinking of switching cultures or making move. Usually, we gain some wonderful things, but we also lose some things. What are some things you lost by leaving, it stumbled, and what are some things you gained by coming to United States.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  16:58

So some of our losses, of course, like being in touch and being together with my family, and usually Mediterranean countries in general are very close to their family. So again, I was the first one to leave the country to come to a whole totally different part of the world. So that is definitely a loss. And it’s a loss for my son too, because I grew up with my grandparents, getting their love on top of your parents love is I think a beautiful thing to experience. So I was losing that. And also like losing I wouldn’t say losing because I did not lose my most wonderful friends and they are all spread out around the world right now. I never lost them, but I was scared of losing them because my friendships are very very important to me. And we have a wonderful culture in some ways like we’re so much purse and you have experienced that like we’re so personable we have smaller personal spaces in a good way. And like people are such more like not so individualistic but like more like they love being together with love big groups. I even had that gave a talk years ago in Turkey in in future work and I said never ever please lose that wonderful smell. You have every time you meet a customer when I met a customer United States they immediately went to business they did not offer me Turkish tea or any kind of tea or coffee and they went straight to business and I love that part of our culture which is gonna build relationship First of all, we have the business talk. So all of that is what you lose of course, but I think I lost less than I was scared of losing it like especially my relationships because I’m a big relationship people person like I said before, so if you’re really careful and if you’re really adamant about that, you don’t lose them. But of course you don’t get to see them as much as you want to in person. So that’s the parts that you lose but the parts that I gained I think the most important is like I lost all my identities when I came here as a work somebody works for IBM you build that identity even around that oh, I work for IBM now. I mean, there’s that or I’m coming from this intellectual family Well, no family here or I went to the best schools that are available to me in Turkey and in Turkey. If I say what which schools I have graduated from immediately like you’re like a Harvard Graduate right? Everybody knows what it takes you to get there. So here you lose all of that. Besides that you also lose all your financial security too because here they start like you know very well. Okay, what’s your credit score, you have zero credit. I think you’ve seen visa American Express for years, they say, Nope, that was international way. So you have to start from scratch. So that’s very, very hard at the beginning. But at the same time, that’s the start to your inner journey, at least, that’s what happened to me. I said, Okay, who am I, without all of these identities that I built around myself? Who is Ozlem Brooke Erol without any of that. So that started the big, long inner journey for me, which got me today to today. So that’s very precious. But as everything else, it’s painful at the beginning, because you really feel like Okay, I’m gonna like it here, starting from scratch at 33. Yeah, that’s not easy at the beginning.

Achim Nowak  20:47

Word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast www.my. Fourth, act calm, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. What are some things you discovered in your journey? As Lim?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  21:25

Yeah, so much. Of course, it’s like the onion peel, like the peel. And it’s still going on, of course, first of all, that you didn’t need to have the titles, my definition of success has nothing to do with how much money I make which company I’m working for. That’s why I was able to quit and start a whole life, I obviously, but one part of me had the voice of my parents or my society telling me what success looks like. But then I had to get rid of them and feel like, okay, we are worthy. And we have, we deserve everything good just because we’re born. And it’s our birthright. And it doesn’t have to come with a zillion different kinds of achievements. But that’s the way I was raised, right. And it’s just like you find your inner self, your essence of who you really are without any of the external stuff. So you get to know more about you really yourself. And I’m still in that process, I’m sure, but it feels better. Because now if I were to lose anything, like I did when I came here, it’s not gonna take anything away from me, I’m still the same person.

Achim Nowak  22:39

But I know a little bit of your story. So I know you told Doc, so beautifully about why’d you had to leave IBM. And you got some good jobs when you came to this country, but at some point, and if I say this wrong, correct me. You basically said screw corporate life, and I’m going to do my own thing. You said no to IBM, and then you said no to all the other stuff you did here. And in a way you lived a fantasy that a lot of people have is let me start my own business. But that can be scary in a whole other way. Talking about your best life, Inc. and starting that and what your journey was that got you to say, you know, I want to do my own business. And it’s about purpose. Just Could you talk about that?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  23:20

You’re sure. And yeah, I think every job that I tried, and every culture that I experienced, felt like there’s something wrong here. Why do we only have to work for weekends? Why am I gonna go to work only for paycheck that did not ring well with me at all, in any part of my life. So I always wanted to have this culture where I can be myself, I don’t want to wear a man’s hat, what they told me before, or I don’t want to leave part of myself at the door as I went into the office space. And I did have that experience. Actually one of my jobs where I worked for seven years, I was completely myself. They were the most equal, less people. I mean, they didn’t act with their egos. My boss, allowed me to be who I am. He was able to accept like different ideas just right there as I speak to him. So having experienced some work cultures where you didn’t have a voice or you couldn’t be yourself, and you couldn’t be aligned with who you are, versus this culture made me think twice. I said, Okay, this is obviously possible, and think, and I also experienced how much more willing I am to work for that company and how I gave my heart and soul to them. I’m not kidding. I was like, because they saw me as a human being before anything else. I was so much more loyal to them like never before. So just having those different experiences in different places made me think okay, this is possible. I always knew in my heart of my hearts, it is possible, but I got to even experience it. Look at it. Love My Mondays not only my Fridays, I was excited about the work I do, they were willing to listen to all my ideas. And it doesn’t mean, we did go with every idea I had, but like, even to be listened to, and not killing your ideas was a big deal for me. So that’s when I said, Okay, first of all, I found my purpose by then, which made me very excited. Because what people don’t still know about purpose is like, it taps into a very different kind of energy you have in yourself, which I don’t even know that exists. So having that extra energy, all of a sudden, I say, Yes, I can do it. Yes, I can be an entrepreneur. So of course, at the very beginning, like they have this graph for an entrepreneur. So you have this big high, right, that first, oh, I can do everything in this world. So I had that, of course. But I know that of course, you don’t know what else is waiting for you. But the beginning was very, very exciting, of course, and your best life really came from getting coaching on what my purpose is, what my gifts are, my talents are. And it spoke so much to my heart. And it just created so much extra energy in me and said, I want to do the same for other people who are looking for meaning at work. Because I had that experience, obviously, so many other people are looking for meaning not only a paycheck, let me do that. That’s where your best life came from.

Achim Nowak  26:31

So if I hear you correctly, was your purpose at that time, to help other people find your purpose. So your purpose was to be a helper in the purpose playground for others,

Ozlem Brooke Erol  26:43

for sure. And it’s I was mostly tailored to work to find purpose will work not only purpose in life, which always comes up, of course, my coaching, but I want them to really love their jobs fulfilled at job, and that only comes to me, I feel like it’s only when they find meaning in what they do. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  27:03

But what you spoke about so beautifully, when you talk about IBM, you describe how you found your own purpose when it wasn’t immediately apparent around you? Is this something you help other people to do? First question, second question. Is it always possible to find our purpose in situations or might it sometimes become too hard?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  27:31

Yeah, it’s definitely an not an easy task. Because you have to have this inner journey without the inner journey, there’s no way you’re finding it, I should say No way. Sometimes life finds your makes you find your purpose. Like I had a friend, for example, she had a tough time with her second child, and she had some, like illnesses, that’s not gonna go away. So that brought her a lot of purpose to help other people with the same illness, right? Sometimes life finds you with your purpose. But if you are trying to discover it yourself, then you really have to spend a lot of time to figure out who you really are, and what is what keeps you in the flow, what makes you feel more energized. So some people are not willing to do that work at all. So that’s why it’s hard. But I always if they already have work, they already have a job. I always want them to start with the existing job, just like what I did at IBM, let’s find your purpose in what you do right now. Because it doesn’t have to make the headlines. It doesn’t have to be huge, right? I have worked with like janitors in or like in a school where they feel like I find so much purpose, because I keep this safe and hygienic so that the children don’t get sick, right? So when people think about purpose, sometimes they have this overwhelming, huge, big thing that and it’s not that at all. So I think I started helping people with like, it’s an existing job, is this a new career? Is this starting your own business, or if you’re not even working, maybe it’s volunteer work that you’re going to do, which is going to be so aligned with who you are. So there’s many different choices to come to that.

Achim Nowak  29:17

I really appreciate it a phrase that you said earlier, which is sometimes life comes to you. That’s so beautiful, and the other thought I had and if we can expound on that. I would argue that life is always coming to us. But we often don’t notice right? Can you talk about the noticing part of what’s already there.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  29:40

So true. I think the way we are mostly right race, like I’m raised the same way. I mean, just as the same formula, good grades, good school, good job, and then don’t nobody talks about the details. And because our definition of success is so much related to our achievements, our time titles or which company we work for promotions, we’re not even paying attention to what the life is throwing at us, like you said, if we pay more attention and more self aware, and pay attention to what’s happening to us through our life, then we can be even, like understanding what we need to do with what we came here for, right? But just like the self awareness, and being very, like insightful, and observing what’s coming to us is very important. But I think it’s not being reactive, but also being proactive, too. Because there’s certain questions. I mean, that what does a coach do? What do I do as a coach? There’s those certain questions we ask, and we never tell anybody what to do, they already have the answers. It’s just that they don’t do the reflection time, they don’t spend the me time to observe what’s only did there.

Achim Nowak  30:58

We spoken so far, a lot about what I call individual awareness and individual finding a purpose, and the choices we make. But you also play in what I call a bigger playground, which is the future of work playground. I’m going to drop a name right now because it’s a fella we both know and adore. Kirkpatrick who, a lawyer by training, but some of the people in this base of very radical thinkers that their thinking goes beyond find your own purpose. It’s about changing the whole workplace and how humans are valued. And, and you know, you’re drawn to that space to the, the big playground of the future work. What draws you to that, or Ozlem?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  31:46

Yeah, thank you. That’s a great question. And it really started with my first business and seeing hundreds of people as my clients, I saw so many of them are so unhappy, so unhealthy, and so miserable at work. And then when you see so many of them, and also, of course, I’m a big reader, I read the research and everything that blew my mind away, at some point, I said, like, okay, one to one, work is great, but lets me go to the organizational space, again, see, what are they doing to make all these people so miserable, and they’re very talented, capable, wonderful people, right? And I see all that potential is going to waste, which is what we’re doing, unfortunately, throughout the world, by the way, so that triggered me to say, Okay, this is great. But let me go back to the organizational space. And let me talk to the leaders so that if they do understand the damage that they’re doing, and how much better they can do in the workplace, then we’ll have a much bigger impact. So my word was impact, okay, I’m having this one to one conversation, which is great, because everyone was transformed and sees their potential and lives it is gonna also have a huge impact on people around them. But if we’re talking about leaders of organizations, they’re going to impact the 1000s of people who work for them, but also their families. Because all those wonderful companies that I’m following and working with, it’s not only the people who are fulfilled at work, but those people go to back home at night, and they’re happy, they’re their children that look up to them and say, oh, work could be a good happy place. And that’s what they’re going to look for. Right? So that’s why I was so pushed into creating my second business, which has a whole different target market purpose, more business, because we have to work like change what organizations are doing. And that’s why I love dogs work, because I’ve known him for probably six years now. And I know he wants people to get their brains back. We don’t we make every day, right? We make decisions every day on so many stuff. Why can’t we make it at work? Especially we’re hired for our experience for who we are. And then for our talent and our potential, all of a sudden we have to be micromanaged and told what to do. That never worked for me in the workplace anyways, of course, self management being more human centered, having meaning at work, and everybody at work, knowing that the company stands for something more than making money more than only growth. And especially looking at our world right now. We have so many crazy problems. Why can business be have a better impact on all these problems if we are more conscious, right? So that’s why I have been always progressive and radical in my thinking. That’s why I was the black sheep and the odd and weird one. But now we came to a time where this we’re talking about having more conversations around it. And we have to, I feel like the work as we know it is not sustainable at all, it is not going to be sustainable. I know it. I mean, I believe it’s 150%. In my heart.

Achim Nowak  35:13

One of my many favorite sayings of Doug’s is hierarchy is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet. Which is what you’re talking about as well. I want to take the conversation to you and where you are in your life right now. I hope it’s okay to say that you are a woman in your 50s. So you have a lot of spaces where you can play, you can make choices where you go. And the question that always interests me at any given point in life is what would you like to do more of? And what would you like to do less of as you chart your own path forward?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  35:55

Thank you. Yeah, that’s a good question. I think we all should be asking that pretty frequently, I guess. And I try to do every end of the year do a reflection on the whole year, what worked What did not work for me this year. So I would say definitely do more of the work that I saw believe in have more impact in organizations especially because look, look at what’s happening after COVID this was a great opening for everyone to have a better and open mindset, because there’s nothing new it’s just like what was broken is even more revealed right now. So if we can have an open mind as leaders with there’s a great opening for transformation for like betterment in the world. So I want to do more of that work, for sure. That’s why I’m working with more teams instead of being on my own. Because as a team, you can do so much more in this world with people who are like minded and hard like with the same intentions. So that’s what I want to do more of, I don’t want to spend time with things that do not matter to me so much. So that’s what I want to do less off and focus on this more than anything else because I have 150 different ideas usually. Sometimes making me like okay, not focused on my soul, I want to do less of like spreading myself thin over different projects. But being more like intentional about what I’m spending my energy with.

Achim Nowak  37:31

You made this beautiful reference just a couple of minutes ago about you know, having creating workplaces where somebody comes home from work and the children look up to her or him and go, Oh, Mom and Dad are actually happy. And they had a good day at work. Instead of this stressed out defeated kind of person. Then if I put some language around it is and relate this to you is how do you in your own life. You have a spouse, you have a son, you’re creative thinker, you’re a writer, you’re a Dewar, you’re a manifester. How do you juggle all of this in your own life, so you bring energy back to your family and energize them.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  38:15

First of all, for me, it’s always family came first, always. So all our decisions like the one even you the one you asked, coming to United States was like, my son, and my family comes first saw it. That’s why I had a very hard time in my first job, because it wasn’t like expressed that way at all. Everyone would say, family comes first what everybody wants to do to put work first, what worked for me, so if I had somebody sick at home, I wanted to go to them. But I was felt guilty, I was made feel guilty if I went home. So to talk in my life, it’s going to be always my family and my closest friends coming first, if they need me, that’s my priority, for sure. And then if everything is going well, and thank God, everybody’s healthy, Dan, my work is my life. I don’t have separation between the two. That’s why I’m working at night at weekends, but it doesn’t feel like work. So I’m just like, having a kind of a schedule in front of me every day of the things that I want to do, I always want to walk my dog twice a day, I’m going to have some workout time, I’m going to have some time to write, I have some time to meditate, and then the rest is my work. But what I’ve learned over the years is not to have 20 to do lists, but have three items on my list and then make it to the fourth or fifth if I have time because I overwhelmed myself so much in the past with because I have too many ideas. I would put all of them in front of me every day, which was like oh my god, this is so overwhelming. So I learned that I can only do so much. So start with three and if that If you have time to the fourth and fifth, and pay attention to where I’m spending my energy, or the people around me, I’m such a big people person, I could have 100 people to talk to. But now I’m being more selective because I have so much time. And I want to be like more mindful of that, too.

Achim Nowak  40:20

I appreciate your frequent mentions of the word energy and being mindful of our own energy, what energizes us, and energy is the essence of life, I think, and it’s, I appreciate you mentioning it so much. Here’s a question I asked every guest in a different way. But since you sort of labeled yourself as the black sheep in some places, but I’m gonna label you as the successful black sheep, who is deeply involved in purpose and creating what he wants to do. But based on what you have learned, and coming from a background, where as you said, it’s about the right school, the right education, the right this, whatever, if you could whisper some advice to young Ozlem, not to change your life, what happened, but just share some wisdom that you’ve learned, what would you want to say to

Ozlem Brooke Erol  41:11

her? Well, definitely listen to your gut even more, I always like I never only listen to my mind, always to my heart and my gut. But I would even tell the little Ozlem to even believe in herself more, because I felt like it was so ahead of my time, in some of my thinking that it always feels a little bit weird. And I did hold back some of it. If I were to go back to I said, Don’t hold back anything. Just shout out what you believe in. Because it’s telling do the right thing. And don’t ever be shy. Don’t ever like, yeah, just be bold, and say whatever is in your hearts in the bomb this way possible. That’s probably what I would say to her for sure.

Achim Nowak  41:55

And the words you just uttered, I think might be really good advice for I would say, other fourth actors who are listening to us who want to try something new, or want to go on a new adventure, because maybe their purpose is speaking to them. And I think what you’re saying, just listen and go for it, right?

Ozlem Brooke Erol  42:16

Yes. And whatever age you are to, I don’t have that’s a very limiting belief that a lot of people have, especially in my culture after 30. You don’t do that after 40. Don’t do that. I mean, it goes on forever, and I am so against that kind of thinking, except when you have disabilities and things that they cannot do. Of course, I understand. But the rest is really the older limits are in our mind. So yeah, fourth act, we can still do so many crazy and wonderful things. I believe that

Achim Nowak  42:46

I celebrate those two adjectives crazy and wonderful. Thank you. That’s a beautiful note to go out on. Before we leave. I’m sure there will be listeners to say I want to find out more about what Ozlem does. And if you had to direct them to public places, websites, social media, where will people find you.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  43:06

I’m also almost in every social media. But I think the easiest place would be to find me at LinkedIn. And I’m pretty active there. I right there, I post there. And then I have a YouTube channel, purposeful life channel, which is I’m sure I have a link on my LinkedIn site too. So LinkedIn is a good place to start. And of course, anybody who wants to connect, I would love that. I love getting other people’s ideas, and also getting them engaged and understand their work on their question. So I would love to meet anybody who’s interested. But thank you, thank you for the opportunity, of course to have me on and have this very different conversation than my other podcast. So it’s so much more personal and my life and everything. So thank you for doing that not only with me, but other people, because hopefully some people get inspired by that.

Achim Nowak  43:59

I appreciate that you went personal with me. And may our conversations continue. Thank you so much.

Ozlem Brooke Erol  44:06

Yes, thank you. Thank you again for your time today. Thank you.

Achim Nowak  44:10

Bye for now. Bye bye. Like what you heard, please go to my fourth act calm and subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao

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