Dallas Founders Share How They Quit Their Jobs and Found Purpose

The founders of Project Mockingbird, Grit by Brit, and Break Bread, Break Borders were virtually brought together to share their stories of how their companies came to be.

Three CEOs discussed what compelled them to be the directors of their own happiness and how they used strategy to make their dreams a reality during the “How to Quit Your Job and Find Your Purpose” panel at Dallas Startup Week.

Lauren McKinnon, founder and CEO of Project Mockingbird, says she started her journey by saving money. After saving for 5 years, she had the means to fund her own strategic communication agency.

“Before I knew my purpose, which is what we’re going to talk about today, I started to save dollars,” McKinnon said during the event. “For me, it was a little bit. A little bit every single month that my husband and I would put away, and we had two small children and childcare, and so that’s how I started it. Then every month I would educate myself a little more.”

Similar to McKinnon, Brit Rettig, founder and CEO of Grit by Brit, began her journey with a side hustle and sufficient savings. While working full time for three years in time management consulting, Rettig began a fitness blog in addition to her part time gig as a fitness instructor.

Rettig’s ability to learn about the industry in a safe space gave her room to take risks that helped her find her place in the industry. She eventually created her own fitness studio that promotes holistic wellness through community.

“In that time, I had a really safe space to take some risks in the area that I was trying to start a business and to learn the industry, go and feel it out so that I had some critical skills,” Rettig said. “When the day did come for me to take the big leap, something that I think you know going away from the tactical side of how to make the jump, but more of the emotional and intrinsic internal evaluation that I had to do was I vividly remember being really frustrated with my work and not being able to articulate why.”

Jin-Ya Huang, founder and CEO of Break Bread, Break Borders, gained inspiration for her business by looking up to her role models and connecting with her creativity.

As a young girl, Huang admired the way that her mother showed leadership through her job as a chef. Bringing a community together through food influenced Huang to create a catering business that provided jobs for refugees.

“I’m still juggling the mix of everything,” Huang said. “But the thing is, everything that I’ve learned from the private sector I’ve taken to the public sector and vice versa. Everything that I’ve learned in the corporate world is really helping me unpack the creative solutions we can come to for this global migrant crisis and for the social enterprise. It’s one of those things that cross pollinate, and so that’s how I got there.”

While these women built their empires in different ways, one idea stayed consistent. Quitting your job and finding your purpose is only possible if you find something that you’re truly passionate about.

“The ‘why’ is so important, because you have to do more than just saying I hate my boss,” Rettig said. “To know that ‘why’ grounds you into sort of that soul work.”

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