One of the original technology catalysts (or ‘tech cats’), spends her days facilitating communications between storytellers of all kinds and technology companies; anticipating trends, and curating high-level plenaries at the likes of the (CES), and through her weekly business channel broadcast, the ‘.

Schwartz, the co-founder and principal of the aptly named , was previously the Chief Technology Catalyst for in North America and the key principal who launched the first iteration of the , an in-house technology lab owned by McCann’s parent company, (IPG).

Schwartz is a master educator, curator and translator, which made me wonder…how did she translate her fears into success in the early days of her business and how did that process change over time.

Yes and no. In my previous corporate job, I came up with a new idea to build a technology lab inside the larger organization, where marketers could explore new technology. Company leadership funded the lab and it became the first of its kind. I think I always placed myself in environments that had some structure, but were set up to let new ideas grow with some support and a lot of hard work and perseverance.

I was traveling a lot and having to leave my family, including my two-year-old daughter. I remember thinking, “Here I am walking into yet another meeting, trying to convince yet another group of agency employees to try new things, bring their clients new ideas, blow up the status quo. All they’re going to do is fight me on it because all they’re worried about is their jobs.” I would often see the fear in the faces of those around the table when we talked about what was possible. They just wanted to get through the day.

I understand the fear part — the potential of losing a paycheck in an uncertain economy — but I didn’t want fear to drive my choices. I had to ask myself two questions: Is this job enough of a reason to leave my daughter so often? Is this the legacy I want to carve out?

I’ve had career opportunities where the title was great, the status high and/or the money good. At certain times in your career, any one of those can define success. But the most successful gigs I’ve had are the ones where I’m having the most fun. In those situations, I’m literally enjoying what I’m doing so much, that the days and weeks fly by and the rewards from what I’m doing are extremely satisfying. Those rewards can be as simple as watching something I’ve built grow or meeting great people or doing something I’ve always wanted to do. But when you can connect passion and fun together into what you do during the day (and make money doing it), well, that’s success across the board.

Like most people, when they leave a steady gig, I was worried about the paycheck. I initially had trouble visualizing how I was going to make my monthly nut. It was really jumping off a bridge — a true leap of faith that I was capable of doing anything I set my mind to. I remember the initial months of setting up everything: from health insurance and an S-Corp to a website, my own phone account and creating my logo. Sometimes the simple things were the most daunting. But what I started to realize is that a career is the sum of a number of parts, not just one job to the next job. It’s really all an aggregate of your experiences. As I moved through building my business, I began to notice that people who I had never worked with before, but knew me through various connections, were hiring me. The fear of what was going to happen next disappeared into the energy around shaping and guiding this larger tapestry of what would become my business. The mastery of relaxing into my own hard work, and confidence about what I brought to the table, knocked away any new fear that would occasionally bubble up.

Talking to other business owners and colleagues about the tools and tricks of growing their businesses helped a lot. It helped to know that there was a community of people who were all at it, building their businesses brick-by-brick. A lot of networking also helped — talking to people about what I was doing, what I wanted to do and how I saw it all rolling out…planting seeds that would grow later.

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