How to Find and Transition to Work You Believe In

How to Find and Transition to Work You Believe In

In our careers, it’s normal to crave more—more recognition, more responsibility, or more money and benefits. Many people also crave more meaning from their jobs, especially if they feel like they’re stuck in a rut or that their company doesn’t value the same things they do. If you feel like the work you’re doing isn’t meaningful, take some steps to make a change. While making big career changes can feel daunting, there are ways to make small changes along the way, easing an eventual transition to work that feels important to you.

Defining Success: Danya Shults

Danya Shults is a connector who aims to build and strengthen communities, create greater access for more people, communicate with transparency, and promote learning through sharing. Inspired by her “Jewishly sourced” pop-up restaurant, Pop-Up Shabbat, and her digest of all things Jew-ish, The Ish, Danya founded ARQ, a lifestyle brand and platform that helps people connect with Jewish culture in a more modern (read: relevant, inclusive, and convenient) way.

Previously, Danya created the marketing and community functions at Spark Capital, was a founding employee and leader of culture and community at Skillshare, and fought for educational equality as a Director of Recruitment at Teach For America.

How do you define success?

Success is about knowing what is enough for you. Not for your boss, your frenemy, that person who has more Instagram followers than you, or anyone else. Your definition of “enough” may evolve - I always maintain the right to change my mind about what I want! - but it’s crucial to put your expectations of yourself into words so you can recognize when you’ve succeeded and then celebrate yourself (SO important) and create the next goal post.

How do you measure your own success?

I regularly reconsider what success means to me at any given time, personally and professional. I put into words what it looks like and feels like, what identifiable impact it would have on me and those around me so I can actually recognize success when I’ve accomplished it. I come from a very metrics- and results-driven professional backgrounds, so I’m also big on setting actionable, realistic, tangible goals on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis for my business.

How does success feel?

When I’m successful, in the larger sense of the word, I feel like I’m truly living out my values. When life is good, when it feels like everything is going right and I’m accomplishing what I’ve set out to do, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for and from others, I feel totally free, I’m collaborating with inspiring people and learning something new every day.

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

How do you celebrate your success?

This is SUCH an important question! I’m an incredibly impatient person, so this is a huge challenge for me and something I’m working on constantly. As soon as I accomplish one thing, I’m ready for the next and barely pause to congratulate myself. I celebrate by taking a minute to recognize what I’ve just done and I share my excitement with my husband and my family and my friends. I journal every Friday and write down my ups and downs for the week, as well as what I’ve learned and questions I have - it helps me celebrate the small and big things that have gone well, in addition to the things I’m still trying to figure out and obsessing over.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

I just saw the most perfect cartoon about this very topic and it totally grounded me in the midst of a stressful time. The headline was “The People Worth Impressing” and a picture of a little girl with the caption “Your 5-year-old-self” and a picture of an older woman with the caption “Your 85-year-old self.” If you want to be successful, you have to start with the hard work and identify your values and the impact that you want to have on the world and the people around you and on yourself. Once you do that, you’ll know what success looks like to YOU - stick with that and don’t worry about the noise.

Connect with Danya: 

Twitter: @danyacg | Instagram@danyashults |

Top Music Picks of 2016

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to listen to all the playlists I made throughout the year and review what my favorite albums and songs were. This year was unique because there were so many individual songs that I absolutely loved yet didn't have many albums I loved in full. So, with that being said, this list is going to be different from the past years where it was strictly 10 songs and 10 albums. I couldn't figure out 10 albums and I had more songs. Changing things up on you.

Have a look and then a listen to my favorite music of 2016 (in no particular order).

(You can listen to it all on my Spotify playlist here)

  • James Vincent McMorrow, Get Low
  • Maggie Rogers, Alaska
  • Car Seat Headrest, Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
  • Lucy Dacus, I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
  • Field Music, The Noisy Days Are Over
  • Empire of the Sun, High and Low
  • Father John Misty, Real Love Baby
  • Gordi, Avant Gardener
  • King Creosote, You Just Want
  • Michael Kiwanaku, One More Night
  • Okkervil River, The Industry
  • Peter Bjorn and John, Breakin’ Point
  • Ra Ra Riot, Water
  • Caveman, Never Going Back
  • The Avett Brothers, Ain’t No Man
  • Graham Nash, This Path Tonight

The three albums that I loved the most this year were:

  • Jim James, Eternally Even <---I could not love this man more. He is absolutely brilliant. 

  • Local Natives, Sunlit Youth <---finally saw them live this fall, oh how I love them. 

  • The Head and the Heart, Signs of Light


  • Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

  • case/lang/veirs, case/lang/veirs <----brilliant performance at Newport Folk Festival especially when they sang Helpless. Watch here. 

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway

  • Bon Iver, 22, A Million <----after seeing them last night, I am adjusting to this newness but it's not the same. This will take some time.

  • The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come to Expect


Hope you enjoyed checking out my list -- I'd love to hear what your favorites were this year so feel free to email me or tweet me your favorites @harper_spero.

Defining Success: Emily Merrell

Emily Merrell, also lovingly referred to as "20 Questions", has always loved figuring out people's stories. After six years in the fashion industry, Emily became an entrepreneur and created Six Degrees Society, a women's focused networking organization that specializes in taking the guesswork out of networking through curated connections with each event having it's own unique theme (personal branding to calligraphy). In their first year Six Degrees Society has expanded from New York City to eight markets.

In her free time, you can find Emily exploring new restaurants, drinking bold bottles of wine, taking early morning workout classes, planning her next trip or playing the name game. 

How do you define success?

Success to me is being acknowledged for what you’ve created by people that aren’t your family or close friends. When strangers, who have no obligation to say nice things, start recognizing the value of what you are creating, that to me is success.

How do you measure your own success?

That’s a question where I’ve recently been doing a lot of soul searching to understand better. At the moment success is equated to survival. I want to be able to create a company that sustains me and no matter how large the network grows or how the media views it I still need to accomplish basic needs like paying my rent, paying off my credit card bills and finding money to travel. It doesn’t mean being filthy rich but just plain and simple sustainability.

How does success feel?

Success is a hit of pleasure. It encompasses me with every “thank you” email that crosses my inbox and it has the power to push all “am I crazy to have given up stability of the corporate world” behind.

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

This past week was one of the time’s I’ve felt successful. I had 3 events in a row and was running around like a crazy person and it’s that couch session with some.

How do you celebrate your success?

I don’t tend to celebrate success but rather acknowledge it. I do however, sleep sounder knowing that what I’m building is positively impacting others lives. I think I will officially celebrate success when Six Degrees Society has become a household name.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Listen carefully to advice that’s given to you, process it and apply the advice that resonates for you and your business. At the end of the day it’s your business and although everyone has an opinion you have to listen to your guy/heart/mind on what feels right to you.

Connect with Emily:

Twitter: @six_society | Instagram: @six_degrees_society | Facebook/sixdegreessociety | Website:

Defining Success: Flora McKay

Flora McKay is a mother, yogi, recipe writer, nutrition and wellness educator, and environmental advocate.

With her background in sustainable development and a passion for educating children and families about healthy living, she finds joy in sharing her love of of life with others!

How do you define success?

Success is your own happiness currency. What makes you the happiest, and what do you value the most? For me, success is deeply rooted in making a positive change or impact on the world, and to be in service to others. Success is grounded in a profound sense of gratitude for all things.

Success is bringing love into everything that you do, following your intuition, living life to its fullest, facing adversity with grace, listening to yourself, loving yourself, and deeply enjoying the sweetness that life has to offer. Success is learning from your mistakes, asking questions when you don't know the answer, allowing yourself to be vulnerable so that you can grow.

How do you measure your own success?

Being able to manage many different tasks and challenges while remaining at peace deep inside.

How does success feel?

It feels celebratory and empowering, sparking an increase in energy and overall happiness.

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

One work related example was when I was helping a student overcome her parents perception of being a picky eater. After encouraging her to try foods in a small sample cup, she decided to get a full portion of that food (to the parents surprise). After my intervention, this child was much more open to eating new foods (at school and now at home). Knowing that my efforts helped expand this child’s palate gave me great pride in my ability to affect change.

One personal and most recent example was my experience giving birth to my son naturally. Switching from a generic OBGYN practice to a midwifery practice when I was 30 weeks pregnant was not easy, but led to the most magical birth experience I could have ever imagined. Following my intuition, and trusting the wisdom in my body (and mind) allowed it all to unfold as it did. I felt empowered!

How do you celebrate your success?

Well, I celebrated my birth experience with a nice cold ginger ale (I never drink soda)! But seriously speaking, I celebrate success by smiling and cultivating an inner glow that can only be created when you are truly happy or proud of yourself.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Follow your gut. Be proactive, kind and compassionate. Listen to others, and digest all of the information before reacting. Be your own advocate, and celebrate others on your team.

Connect with Flora:

Where can people find you (Website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)?

Twitter: Butter_BeansInstagram: Foodie_Flora | Website:


Defining Success: Brooks Dame

Brooks Dame is the founder of Proof Eyewear. The Boise, Idaho-based business is the leading sustainable eyewear brand in the world. Brooks has founded a handful of startups, as well as supported his family’s global business that was started by his grandfather more than 60 years ago. He and his brothers/partners survived ABC’s hit show Shark Tank while pitching Proof Eyewear to the Sharks. He’s filmed two full length documentaries in South and Central America.

Brooks lives in Idaho with his wife and three sons. He's a graduate of Brigham Young University and received his MBA from Thunderbird. He enjoys the working in the non-profit, startup and entrepreneurship fields and can often be found speaking about related topics at universities and in the community. In his free time, Brooks likes to travel and spend time outdoors, with family and with friends.

How do you define success?

Success to me is not a short term thing. It's longevity. It's continuity. A one-time win is easily accomplished, but true success is a legacy. It doesn’t matter if it's in business, life, family, or school. The journey for success should be continuous.  

In a nutshell, I'd define success as happiness -- true happiness in what you are doing. Can you wake up in the morning and feel happy with where you are, where you are going and how you treat others? It is a journey for sure and not a destination.  

How do you measure your own success?

For me personally, it comes down to asking myself 'do I feel fulfilled? Do I feel like I’m contributing to my community, my business, and my family in a positive way?" I want to be net positive in my relationships by giving back more than I take. I’m a big believer that I’ll give your 51% and only take 49% and be happy with that, because I’ve given more than I've taken.

I think a lot of people measure success in wins and losses, but I don’t think that tells the full story. I measure things in terms of w’s and l’s, but for me its wins and learnings. Winners get the hype, the glory and that feels really good. I’m a little odd in that i don’t mind taking an L if I can learn from that loss, if I can grow from it. And usually I do. People rarely win all the time (regardless of what you see on their Instagram feed or what they tell you). Losses should equate to learnings. I measure myself off a loss that I can learn from as much as I do a win. You have to learn how to take an L and spin it into a learning.

How does success feel?

Success for me stirs two feelings: temporary and empowering. Babe Ruth once said that, "yesterday’s home runs don’t win todays games". I feel that’s very true. I’m not as impressed with a resume that’s got a lot of success early on but nothing more recent, because things are constantly evolving. So the fact that you graduated with honors carries some weight with me because it tells me you’re smart but what did you do last year? What were you involved in? What did you achieve? What did you build?  

The moment success strikes feels great but that feeling for me is very temporary because I know that I’ve got to push for the next success. You can’t ride that success wave for too long before the it's over and you have to hop back in line again.

My goal is to figure out a hack so that the wait “in line” isn't so long between successes. For example, can I leverage this success into my next success? What can I learn from this success to speed up the cycle of success? The other feeling is quite the opposite in that it makes me feel empowered and strong. You often hear people say, “He’s on a roll”. Winning and success begat more winning and success, I think because of what I explained above about it being temporary and wanting to have it continuously. Once you figure out how to hack success, it becomes easier to do it the next time. 

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

Coming home after a long day when one or both of my oldest boys gives me a hug and yells, “Dad!”. To be honest, this feels like success, because for that moment (in my kids eyes) I’m cooler than the cartoon they're watching or toy they're playing with. That happened last night and felt pretty good, so chalk it up to a W.

How do you celebrate your success?

I’m actually not good about doing this. I need to be better at accepting the victories as they come. I’m often accused of moving to quickly off one success to try to catch the next. It's something I need to work on more not so much for me but also for those around me.

They deserve a moment to be recognized for their role in OUR success. I do always acknowledge it and there’s a high five or two thrown around.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Be patient. Success doesn't come overnight. I often see people trying very hard at something and getting frustrated because the results aren’t coming as quickly as they like.

I get that. Creating success is not easy and there is no formula. I often laugh a bit when people say, “Wow, Proof Eyewear has blown up this year, you guys have come out of nowhere”. We’ve been at it for over 6 years now and are always hustling with our team everyday to get there.

Remember that people rarely see the late hours, long trips, struggles. They only see the finished product. But we were in my garage when we started, not our flagship store and HQ downtown. So stick with it. Grind it out. Enjoy the journey and be patient. Good things take time.

Connect with Brooks:

Twitter: @brooksdame | Instagram: @brooksproof |

Defining Success: Brittany Wright

Brittany Wright is a Seattle-based food photographer who sees food as an opportunity to do something creative, not just tasty. With a background in technology, she has combined her passions for both tech and food, into running the Instagram account @wrightkitchen.

Brittany's art focuses on food culture, as well as its aesthetic, and she showcases the beauty of locally produced foods. Brittany has been featured in numerous media outlets including: The Food Network, Buzzfeed, Business Insider, New York Magazine, and Forbes. Some of her client list includes: Samsung, Food & Wine, Sur La Table, American Express, and Target. Brittany’s favorite food produce often changes with the season but she’d be unlikely to complain if cherry season was year-round.

How do you define success?

My personal goal for success is to be at a point where I am able to not only take care of myself, but the ones around me whom mean the most. Being able to see this becoming a reality, all while doing something I’m so passionate about, is incredible.

How do you measure your own success?

I have been a firm believer in creating goals my entire life. Big, small, hourly, daily, 10 year-goals for everything. I see them as a to-do list in my mind, and it gives me something to work towards. Accomplishing and creating more items to work towards is how I measure success.

How does success feel?

It hits deep into the soul, in the best way.

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

I spent the past year thinking about and creating my first book, turning in the content last month was the biggest accomplishment I have felt in a while.

How do you celebrate your success?

One of the non-materialistic things I’ve been doing is to take a moment and breathe, then in my mind tell myself ‘great job’. Self-love is important but so easily forgotten.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Find what makes you unique. We are so lucky to live in a world where we likely all have near countless amounts of inspiration around us. My advice is to take all of these things that inspire you, intertwine them with your goals, and then make something unique out of it that has yet to be done. Search online and throughout other references, try to find something that you can’t find.

Connect with Brittany:

Instagram: @wrightkitchenFacebook: Wright Kitchen |

Defining Success: Krista Gray


Krista Gray is web producer, content creator and strategist who helps people and companies shine online. She launched GoldSquare, a boutique production company for Squarespace websites and digital marketing strategy, after leaving the third startup she helped build in San Francisco. 

Passionate about travel and culture, Krista has successfully grown her business while working in different parts of the world. She's also collaborated with international clients based in Hong Kong, Melbourne and Peru to date in 2016 -- just to name a few!

How do you define success?

For me, success is two-fold. First, it’s helping my clients get to a place where sharing their work, passions or business online isn’t overwhelming or difficult anymore; instead, bringing what they care about or do into the digital space is exciting and full of comprehensible possibility for growth.

Second, success means that I can live the kind of life that makes me feel as healthy and happy as possible. Basically, I feel successful when I’m able to do work I love while maintaining a state of financial stability and well-being.

How do you measure your own success?

I measure success by my happiness, quality of life, and project queue. 

How does success feel?

Success feels like a new stepping stone for the next challenge. I basically see it as a huge ‘check!’ before seeking out a new opportunity to learn, improve and grow.

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

I recently celebrated a year of being a business owner and in my reflection, realized I’ve accomplished a handful of things that I would have only dreamed about a short twelve months ago.

I’ve been so fortunate to work with clients (both people and companies) that I admire on projects that I truly light me up inside. When I think of the work we’ve done/are doing together, I seriously have to stop and pinch myself. It’s pretty awesome.

How do you celebrate your success?

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t celebrated it *specifically* to date -- at all. On a day to day basis, I try to take advantage of the opportunities I have because I’m self-employed.

In a small way, waking up without an alarm (most days), taking late morning walks through my neighborhood, working at coffee shops I love and calling it quits early on the occasional afternoon are all mini-celebrations of the life that I’ve worked so hard (and been so fortunate!) to build. 

I also travel and work from different places as much as I can, whether it's at a coffee shop that's a short walk away or another country on the other side of the globe.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Figure out what sets you apart and how that skill or trait can be valuable to others.

Be open to the idea that something you think is a flaw right now could actual be a major strength in the right role or environment for YOU. For me, it was always being a generalist. It turns out that while my varied background across content and marketing roles left me feeling like I wasn’t outstanding in any single role on a  team, it’s actually what allows me to produce client projects from end-to-end because I understand enough about each aspect of the work.

Everyone has amazing talents and areas where they're skilled or can learn quickly. Figure out what yours are and get to work!

Connect with Krista:

Twitter: @thekristagray | Instagram: @wanderandlove | Website:

Defining Success: Taylor Goldsmith

Photo credit: Matt Jacoby

Taylor Goldsmith is a professional singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, born and raised in Los Angeles California. He's best known as the guitarist, lead vocalist and primary songwriter of the band Dawes. After forming Dawes in his early twenties alongside his brother Griffin and lifelong bass player Wylie Gelber, Taylor has stayed busy cultivating and expanding his catalog.

Often noted for his lyrical and melodic aptitude, Taylor has found himself on stage, in the studio and shoulder to shoulder with greats such as Elvis Costello, Jim James, Jackson Browne, Conor Oberst, and others.

How do you define success?

It's always meant staying busy and staying mindful of when things are good. Success means making sure I don't lose sight of that.

How do you measure your own success?

More than the amount of fans or records sold, I like looking at things like how many records we've made or how many shows or songs I am in some way a part of. To me, success looks more like a large body of work than some huge house or a bunch of money.

How does success feel?

I don't feel particularly successful. At least I don't put it in those terms in my own head. I feel really lucky and grateful to be so busy but otherwise I'm always focused on what comes next.

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

Every night on stage is a reminded of how lucky we are as a band. Any moments of feeling like we are losing sight of how lucky we are to do this for a living are immediately cured by a show on any given night.

How do you celebrate your success?

I don't.

Again, I just try to be reflective of the wonderful experiences I've had and make sure not to take those memories for granted.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Be obsessed. The hardest working, most motivated, most obsessed people always are the most successful in their field. It's never been about who's the most talented, but simply who wants it most.

Connect with Taylor:

Facebook: Dawes the bandTwitter: @dawestheband | Instagram: @dawestheband | Website: