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It's Never Too Late to Unlock Your

Work. Life. Passion.


By: Orly Benaroch Light

Midlife Crisis in Women

Living our passion is more than just a whimsical idea. It's an integral key to our personal development. When we align our careers and interests with what genuinely excites us, it doesn't just bring us joy—it can dramatically impact our lives in ways we never anticipated. Passion isn't just about happiness; it's about fulfillment, a deeper sense of purpose, and genuinely connecting with what we do.


However, our passions and interests naturally evolve as we journey through life. When I think back to what captivated my attention thirty years ago, it is quite different from what I’m interested in today. Our personal growth, life experiences, and changing circumstances lead us down different paths, allowing us to redefine and discover new passions. For instance, while I was deeply engrossed in the demands of work and family, as those demands began to recede in my mid-life, I found a new opportunity to redefine the meaning and purpose of my life. This evolution is a testament to the fluidity of our passions and the endless possibilities that await us if we remain open to change.


Rediscovering Purpose in Mid-Life


My initial stride towards a renewed purpose in life was in recognizing my innate interests. The world of travel and tourism has always resonated with me. It wasn't just a profession but a source of immense joy and excitement. Every day in the industry felt invigorating and brought me closer to what made me truly happy. Yet, I felt a growing urge for independence, to carve out my own niche rather than working under someone else's banner.


This urge led me to the world of Continuing Medical Education (CME) conferences, a discovery I made during a volunteer stint with a San Diego medical group. Organizing their annual Palm Springs retreat gave me insights into the intricate blend of medical education and travel. When the possibility of turning this volunteer role into a salaried position didn't materialize, I took it upon myself to establish my own CME conferences enterprise. This new venture aimed to amalgamate learning for healthcare professionals with rejuvenating breaks in exquisite global destinations. It was not just about business; it was about creating a platform that reflected my identity as a woman and would inspire countless others in their journeys.


Building a Visionary Business


Quality continuing medical education (CME) is not just a formality; it's a cornerstone for healthcare professionals. In a field as dynamic as medicine, professionals rely heavily on ongoing education to equip them for the relentless pursuit of better patient health. But it's more than just accruing a certain number of CME credits per licensure cycle—it's about genuine learning that goes beyond maintaining professional credentials.


Embarking on this endeavor, I realized that to truly make an impact, I had to be well-equipped both in knowledge and skills. I delved into research, connected with industry insiders, and understood the intricacies involved. Recognizing the importance of both hard skills—like the technicalities of the business—and soft skills—like management and leadership, I sought out courses, workshops, and further education. This holistic approach enabled me to navigate the complex world of CME without attending a traditional business school.


But acquiring skills was only part of the equation. Networking was pivotal. Building professional relationships and creating a solid network opened doors to insights, advice, and new avenues. Although initially faced with resistance from entrepreneurs wary of sharing their success secrets, I persevered. From reading extensive literature on entrepreneurship to attending industry events and establishing online connections, I left no stone unturned.


However, building a visionary business wasn't without its challenges. My initial approach focused on integrating medical conferences with cruise trips, a personal favorite. But this brought forth a glaring oversight—I had designed a product I loved, but it wasn't what most American health care professionals wanted. This revelation underscored the crucial need to understand customer preferences, spending power, and scheduling constraints. The essence of a successful business isn't just about offering a service but ensuring that service aligns with what the customer truly desires and needs.


From Setback to Success: Understanding the Customer


Cruising has always been a personal escape for me. As a mother of two, cruises represented the ultimate stress-free vacation: an all-inclusive haven where every need was met, from daily room cleanings to 24-hour room service. The beauty of unpacking once, letting the ship's crew handle every detail, and simply enjoying the journey was unmatched. Infusing this concept into my CME venture, I organized medical conferences aboard these cruise ships, targeting the world’s most popular cruise destinations.


However, what seemed like an innovative idea soon revealed its pitfalls. The allure of cruises was not universally shared. Despite my enthusiasm, I faced the harsh reality that 85% of Americans never cruised and didn't share the same sentiment. Years of hard work, investment, and hope were at the brink of sinking, much like a ship facing turbulent waters.


It was during this challenging phase that a serendipitous encounter with a marketing maestro, a relative who taught at the esteemed Wharton School of Business, provided the guiding light. His advice was transformative: "Understand what your customers truly need. Look for gaps in the market, where competition is sparse or non-existent. That's where you should channel your energies." This insight was the catalyst for change, prompting me to reassess, shed preconceived notions, and base decisions on concrete data and a deep understanding of my customers.


Lessons Learned and Finding Triumphs


The journey of building my CME company was marked by a series of lessons, both taught by successes and setbacks. Each day presented its own unique challenges, driving home the idea that entrepreneurial growth is rooted in continuous learning and adaptation. From understanding market dynamics to navigating customer preferences, the road was paved with invaluable experiential knowledge.


But as with all endeavors, perseverance bore fruit. Over time, the company evolved, grew, and solidified its position in the market by being the first to introduce a half-day CME format without commercial support at resort destinations. We managed to cater to the needs of our clientele, offering them unmatched value, which in turn fostered loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. This synergy between our services and customer satisfaction was palpable, translating into heightened retention rates and a widening brand reach.


The culmination of this journey came after 14 years of unwavering dedication. Reflecting on the company's journey from its infancy to a well-established entity, and due to a serious health event, the decision was made to sell. As the gavel came down, it wasn't just a business that was sold; it was a testament to the power of passion, resilience, hard work, and understanding the essence of one's audience. The sale ended up not only being just a financial transaction; it was a celebration of every lesson learned, every challenge overcome, and most goals achieved.


The Time is Now


Age is but a number when it comes to pursuing our true passions and finding purpose. Societal constructs or external pressures don't bind our life's timeline; it's about the moments we choose to seize and the paths we dare to tread. Reflecting on my own journey, from the ebbs and flows of mid-life to the peaks of entrepreneurial success and beyond, it's evident that passion and purpose are timeless pursuits.


So, if you find yourself wondering about the next step or are hesitant to chase a dream due to age, remember that there is no perfect time but now to embark on a new venture, dive into a hobby, or transition into a fulfilling career. Let your passions guide you and work relentlessly towards what truly makes you excited to wake up every morning.






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