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Making Leaps, No Matter the Landscape

Posted by: Jena McGregor on March 16, 2008

I was reminded of Kate Hanni today when I was traveling back from a weekend trip to Atlanta. The air travel activist was one of those sad remnants on the cutting room floor of my Consumer Vigilantes story, part of the Customer Service Champs package which ran a few weeks ago. Hanni was essential in putting me in touch with a number of passengers with nightmare stories, including a few who took matter into their own hands, such as Ron Dee, who made it into my story.

But what made me think of Hanni wasn’t a hellish wait on an airport tarmac. After an hours-long ordeal trapped on the tarmac of an American Airlines flight, Hanni, out of passion, left behind her California real estate practice and joined the ranks of consumer activists. Whether out of passion, boredom, lack of security, family changes or mere experimentation, I’ve been struck recently by how many people I know recently are making major career shifts. A friend is leaving behind a nonprofit management job at a top-flight business school to pursue a potential career in sales. Another friend’s husband is headed into academic research after an illustrious career in business journalism. Still another is leaving a top New York editing job to join an Internet start up. (Remember those days?)

That’s especially interesting given all the economic turmoil the world is facing right now. Seems like a time many would buckle down, fly straight, and pray that they wouldn’t become casualties of the chaos. But more and more, it’s becoming clear that those rules don’t always apply to the truly talented. There’s a Bipolar Talent Market going on out there—a dichotomy that’s long existed, but one that seems to be growing ever sharper in its contrasts, no matter how bad the economic outlook may be. Talented people seem to still be able to take risks, leap out of their comfort zones, and are in more demand than ever before, no matter how tight the purse strings may have gotten in recent months.



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