How to Use Your Skills and Passion to Create Success

sara-lopez-WHNEditor’s note: This is a guest post from Sara Lopez

You never quite realize how much your job affects your happiness until you have had a truly terrible job, or a truly phenomenal job. Just think about it, you spend 2/3 of your awake time at a place, surrounded by certain people, working for a specific cause­– this is called your career.

My name is Sara Lopez and I am the Brand Ambassador and Social Media Strategist for 8th Continent Soymilk. I quite possibly have the best job in the world, however it was not always this way.

At one point I worked for a consulting firm in San Francisco that was so unappreciative I would trudge home considering where I went wrong on my career path and how I would ever fix it. I dreaded going in to work in the morning because I knew my skills were not utilized, nor did my employer notice them.

Utilize Social Media

The consulting firm was paying massive amounts to maintain communication and promotions with their clients. From email blasts to buying address lists they were scurrying to discover a way to inform the public of updates, send messages and create a virtual community. The one thing they were not doing was utilizing social media to reach new potential clients and to develop persistent two-way communication to promote loyalty.

The weekend before I was let go I went through raw data and cross-referenced it with all of the clients that were either on Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter accounts. Keep in mind; this was nearly two and a half years ago. I had brought up the importance of social media in countless meetings prior to this only to be dismissed as a young Gen-Y’er who was addicted to surfing the net for fun. I attempted to explain that with the curve of technology fast approaching­­– marketing and advertising was quickly slipping into a conversation and participation realm. The “Naïve Public” television and print had once targeted was shrinking at an alarming rate and would soon be miniscule or nonexistent.

Untapped Passion

As you have probably gathered by now, I have always been very passionate about social media, so I spent hours working on this report during the weekend– during my “free” time. After presenting this report to my boss, he quickly smirked and said: “Thanks Lopez, I’ll take a look at this some time.” Within three hours I was let go.

The next several months were one of the most challenging times of my life. What went wrong at my last job? Will I ever find a position where I can finally experience that feeling of accomplishment? Am I just not cut out to be a businesswoman even though that is what I had been striving for my entire life?

Questions were crowding my mind and fogging up my once clear vision of my future. The only thing I could do was try to focus and stay motivated; to sculpt myself into what I wanted to be. I stopped hiding and exaggerating attributes to fit into a mold of what I thought would lead to success.

Be You No Matter What

When I was a senior in college I interned at an amazing marketing firm in Toledo, Ohio. The CEO of that marketing firm found out I was moving back from California, he dialed my cell phone number and said he had the perfect opportunity for me.

8th Continent Soymilk was looking for a Social Media Strategist and Brand Ambassador! I am lactose intolerant so I have always been a huge fan of 8th Continent Soymilk, so I decided to create an audition video and send it in. The video featured me dancing on desks, mentioning all eight of my tattoos, speaking Spanish, all while sporting my bright red faux-hawk haircut. Several other people had sent in videos, but they chose me!

Turning Point

From this point on, everything turned around. The people at 8th Continent Soymilk listened to my ideas about social media and encouraged contribution. They recognized my accomplishments and praised my creative outside-the-box thinking. 8th Continent Soymilk agreed with the fact that open communication between customers and a company was not only good for business, but would also help form and shape the future of 8th Continent. They wanted a person that people could go to and talk to that could be a direct voice from the company. I created a Twitter, Facebook, Brightkite account along with a blog and profiles on several different message boards and forums. From those accounts I would provide people with coupons, recipes, and tips on how to live a happy healthy lifestyle.

After laying the groundwork, I ventured out on my 8th Continent Soymilk Taste of Life Tour. This was a road trip all throughout the US to the coolest places that you would not typically find in an itinerary. The entire adventure was documented online with blog posts, tweets and Youtube videos. I thrived off of the connections and interactions that occurred online whether I was behind my steering wheel, or at my desk.

Enjoy What You Do

Not only do I enjoy my job immensely but also my self-confidence, self-image and sense of self-worth have grown exponentially. Everyone around me has noticed my change in attitude. My smiles are now wider and more generous than ever. I truly understand the meaning of a successful and happy career. Not only am I in a field that I adore, I also truly believe in the product I am promoting.

If I had to give a tip in these times of economic uncertainty and devastating unemployment I would say this: Concentrate on your skills and develop your passion, stay confident, and eventually an employer will appreciate you for exactly who you are and what you offer.

Sara Lopez is a social media superstar at 8th Continent Soymilk. You can learn more about her on Twitter and Facebook.  Check out her blog and find out how to get a $2 coupon for 8th Continent Soymilk.

* Are you on Twitter? Then join over 2,900 people who get my stress relief tips, happiness ideas, and thought provoking quotes. @workhappynow

* The Change Blog has an excellent post called How to Build the Confidence Habit. Confidence at work is very important. Check it out.

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  1. @Nadia
    Thank you so much!
    You know being laid off was the first time I had ever felt rejected. But little did I know that an employee has to evaluate their employer just as much as it is the other way around!
    And I am so glad you found what truly makes you happy. It is a path with many many risks and doubts, but once you have walked that path- you never look back!
    I am sure I can find another vendor that sells 8C around you! If you provide me with your zip code I will hunt down a store!
    Hope you are having a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
    And let me ask you this- what do you think is the top sign that you have finally found the right job for you?
    Sara Lopez

  2. Hi Sara,

    That is awesome how you found a new job that suits your skills and passions.

    Your advice is perfect. I was laid off back in September and that was a huge blessing in disguise. For it forced me to look at my career path in another way and it changed my life around.

    It is so important to follow one’s passion. It is a risk worth taking!

    And btw, the chocolate version of 8th Continent Soymilk totally rocks! They used to sell it over here but they stopped and I so miss it.

  3. Your taste of life tour sounds like it was a ton of fun and it’s great how social media tools let us do things more on the fly as we go versus try to plan everything up front.

    I too am a fan of living your values at work and either finding the job you love, or love the job you’re with.

  4. Your spunk and enthusiasm jumps off my computer screen! Yeah for you and yeah for encouraging all of us to be true to ourselves and our path. Thanks for sharing your path to success. Thanks Karl. This is the best yet!

  5. @J.D. The 8th Continent Soymilk Taste of Life Tour was one of the most amazing adventures have been on! I mean- a three month road trip around the US? Now that is something I can really get behind- and it was all spent promoting a product I believe in and meeting new people.

    @Tess and Alex Thank you both so much! I truly do believe that a day spent unhappy is a day wasted.

    A while ago- I ran into this flow chart:×555.jpg
    And it was just so simple, but so powerful.

    The first step is the hardest part- because your footing will not be steady on a path you are unfamiliar with. But as long as you remember that each unsteady step will be followed by a steadier one- you can endure the tricky times and find that life-changing career opportunity and field you have always deserved.

  6. I agree with Tess. Enthusiasm is contagious and Sara’s is overflowing. There’s no coincidence that when we are happy, we feel unstoppable, passionate and worthy!

  7. Hi Sara

    Great post and it is s true – once we align ourselves, it is like everything else changes in our lives too and becomes better. It is definitely a great thing to find what we like and follow our passions.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your story here too!

    • Thanks so much Evita! I am still amazed at how even people with a good work-life balance still need to realize that without a rewarding job, their “free-time” is still affected.
      Have a great evening!

  8. Hi, Sara! What a great story, and congratulations for finding your true calling. AMAZING! If more people could monetize their passions, the world would look a bit different. More smiles, more laughter, less stress, … Of course, all of this is just my opinion!

    Like you, I believe that when we stay true to ourselves, then the right opportunities appear. I’m a huge believer in the law of attraction, and have manifested some pretty spectacular circumstances in my life that otherwise would seem impossible. I’ve been able to do so, I think, by staying heart-centered and having fearless faith.

    Things have a way of working themselves out for our highest good. Oh, and my favorite quote with regard to getting fired/dumped/what-have-you by a person or organization is this: Man’s rejection is God’s protection.

    Have a beautiful week!

    • That is an awesome quote and I completely concur. I look back at the times I have been upset about things that seemed like missed opportunities. However, I wouldn’t be in the amazing position that I am in if it hadn’t been for those closed doors.
      And I think this another favorite quote of mine:
      Everything will be good in the end. If it isn’t good, then it isn’t the end.