I was pretty much as corporate as they come. I spent 10 years of my life working at global media agencies, advertising for major brands, managing multi-million dollar ad spends, and becoming the first head of marketing for a successful fitness start-up. Every summer in college, I interned for major ad agencies in Boston, and even competed against other schools in national advertising pitches (nerd alert!) You could say I was heavily committed to my marketing career. After graduating, I quickly found a job at a top media agency in NYC. Everything was going according to plan.
Fast forward a few years, and I was sleeping with my Blackberry under my pillow for fear of missing a call from a client, working 100hr weeks in front of two laptops and answering emails at all hours of the night. My first wake-up call came when I developed stress-induced stomach ulcers and ended up in the emergency room. This happened two more times before I finally decided to make a change. However, it wasn’t the decision to leave my desk job…yet. I made small shifts in my career trajectory to try to find a suitable fit: change of countries, change of companies, change of business, and change of company size.
But no amount of pivoting my marketing career was making me happy.
My second wake-up call came when the co-founders of a start-up I had been working for unexpectedly fired me. At that moment, I realized I’ve been ignoring the truth for years: I was no longer passionate about marketing. After dedicating so much of my life to my career, coming to that realization was like getting the wind knocked out of me. What was I supposed to do now? A part of my core identity was “Hana the marketing expert,” and suddenly I felt dizzy with uncertainty. I grieved my failure, the loss of my job, the lack of direction and felt the full impact of letting go. I lost a part of myself that day.
After some serious soul searching, I decided to stop with the small shifts.
It was time to make a major and radical change.
I no longer wanted to be asleep at the wheel of my life. I needed to wake up and take full control and responsibility for where I wanted my future to go. In order to find my purpose and direction, I knew I needed space and time away from all that was familiar. My desk job and NYC would always be there waiting for me, and the only thing I would sacrifice would be time.
Inspired by my love of travel and the ocean, I stumbled upon the yachting industry. I decided to pack up my life in NYC and moved to Florida to pursue an unknown industry to live and work on a megayacht.
Since that day, I got to swim with nurse sharks, feed wild pigs on a remote island, freedive for lobsters in the Bahamas, swim at the base of a volcano in Sicily, eat fresh croissants in the South of France, party in Monaco, drink rum punches at the British Virgin Islands, and spend days at sea with nothing but the ocean and stars surrounding the yacht. Swimming into the unknown was the best decision of my life.
I never thought that I would end up where I am today. I left everything I knew behind, successfully navigated a career in yachting, found the space and inspiration to start my own company (Crew Compass), and I now work remotely from every corner of the globe to encourage others to make a radical change in their lives. “From Desk to Deck” is about recognizing that we are all in transition and in a state of constant change. Sometimes it’s not about making small changes, it’s about taking a giant leap of faith and being surprised by what you find on the other side.
Do you have the courage to take the plunge?