Picture this: You’re 58 years old, have built a successful career in financial services, and wake up one day as the owner of a lavender farm.
Yes, you read that right: a lavender farm.
Sounds like a dream, but it’s the real life story of a friend and colleague of mine, Rita Robbins. She bought a lavender farm in the middle of farm country in Michigan – an area made famous by Hemingway – sight unseen and closed on the sale last month.
And even she describes it as a dream come true.
While a lavender farm in and of itself sounds amazing (and literally breathtaking), what is most inspirational is how far afield it is from how she currently lives her business life. It seems so brave to think that a woman who has been very successful in her lifelong career chose to pursue an opportunity like this at this point in her life, one that would make her feel even more fulfilled and whole.
Rita is the President of NYC-based Affiliated Advisors, managing in excess of $2B of assets for clients around the country. She has more than 100 registered reps working under her umbrella and she just built a beautiful new office on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a project she is incredibly proud of because she bought the apartment-turned-office and renovated it completely. As a soon-to-be “empty nester”, she could easily use this time in her life to kick back, enjoy the fruits of her labor, and coast into retirement.
Instead, Rita chose to pursue an opportunity that felt soulful to her – one that allowed her to tap into an as yet unexplored piece of herself that yearned to do something more creative and with a closer connection to nature.
It was never a fully articulated fantasy, but rather a nagging thought through the years. She isn’t giving up her existing business: far from it, actually. She’s in major growth mode in her financial services practice. Yet she plans on jumping into this new venture with her heart and mind. Most meaningfully, Rita said, “We have a lot of work to do from a management perspective as well as an agricultural one and I am ready, willing and able to roll up my sleeves and get going.”
Far from the world of finance, her new team is comprised of women who love the farm and are crazy about lavender. There’s a small group of local women who earn money and “stay sane during the long cold Michigan winters” by hand sewing the neck pillows, eye pillows and sachets they sell in the on-site shop, and where local artists display their work. Ultimately, Rita said, “Community and economic development is of paramount importance to me.”
I have no idea how much money Rita will generate from this new business and I’m not sure she does either. What she makes clear, though, is that the motivation for it had little to do with the money and much more to do with fulfilling a dream and living a life that feels congruent and passionate. And this venture speaks to her on those same terms.
This story is one to share for many reasons, but here is what speaks most clearly to me: So many of us go through the motions of the daily grind, and then end our days feeling unfulfilled and exhausted…only to start the same pattern the next morning. Rita didn’t spend her life dreaming of a lavender farm, yet she knew she needed to do something different. And the key is that she was open to the opportunity when it presented itself. She says it best: “Sometimes, in retrospect, things that seemed impossible are actually inevitable.”
So take this thought with you: There is a “lavender farm” out there for each of us. Be open to allowing it to enter our lives, and be willing to take a chance. Therein lies one of the keys to living your Best Business Life.