Becoming CEO

The News.

I was on a break from island life on vacation at my friend’s apartment in New York City in August 2016. I was sitting on the living room floor, looking out the window at the hustle and bustle of Harlem. The phone rang, and it was my boss, then CEO of the Branson Centre, Lisa Lake. I figured it must be important as she usually tried not to interrupt vacations.

She asked if I was sitting down, and I immediately worry: had something bad happened? “No, it may be something good, actually,” she said, “I’m stepping down as CEO at the end of this year, and I think you should apply for the job.”


What? My first thought was that my beloved leader and friend was abandoning me. She gave me an opportunity to find my purpose. She gave me the freedom and flexibility that I needed to love my job. She gave me the autonomy to be a senior decision-maker in the organization, while shielding me from the battles at the Board level. And now she was leaving me?

My second thought was that I wasn’t sure I wanted to be CEO. My life as number two was pretty good. I worked four days a week, with Fridays off for personal projects, I remote worked from anywhere I wished, I set my own schedule. I was quite fulfilled.

On the other hand, I had watched Lisa for three years negotiating difficult issues the Board, taking hits for the team, spending nights and weekends working, and having little time for self-care. I knew what this job required and I wasn’t sure that I wanted that life.

Applying for the job.

So I went back and forth in my mind about applying for a month, but ended up submitting my application shortly before the deadline. I decided to submit because I couldn’t shake the advice from the gurus that when an opportunity presents itself that you’re not ready for, you just have to jump in and do it and figure it out as you go. I was curious to see who I would become by stepping up in this way. I felt called to apply.  

Getting the job wasn’t a done deal. Many people in the entrepreneur ecosystem in Jamaica that I worked with were surprised that I had to go through an application process – they thought it would be a straight promotion. Some even said that they would have applied but didn’t because they viewed it as “my” job. That was interesting to me because it I wasn’t sure I wanted it. But, after multiple rounds of interviews with the Board – who also interviewed other candidates – I got the job.

When the moment calls.

I was so apprehensive about it, filled with dread in the weeks leading up to the start date. I knew my life would change forever. I knew that it would be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had to move to a new city, leave behind a new boyfriend, and put my needs on the backburner for a while in order to give my all to the role. But I also knew that I would learn more about myself than ever before, and unlock a new level of my potential. So I took the leap.

When the moment calls, you have a choice. You can stay in your comfort zone, but stay stagnant, or you can step up to the plate, do the thing that will challenge you to your core, and level up in life. What will you do when it’s your moment?