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EvolveMe #40over40: Robin Merle

This is our time! We’re stronger when we work together to lift other women up. EvolveMe's #40over40 list curates profiles of women who have or are in the process of reinventing their careers in their 40s, 50, 60s, and beyond. We're thrilled to share these stories of reinvention - women returning to work, pivoting careers, or launching new ventures!

Meet the inspiring and resilient Robin Merle, Senior Fundraising Consultant, Board Member, Speaker, and now Author of the must read book: Involuntary Exit: A Woman's Guide to Surviving After Being Fired. If you've found yourself suddenly let go from your role, or know someone who has, Robin gets you and offers great perspective to picking yourself up and moving forward with confidence.

What is the current focus of your career?

I have a multi-faceted portfolio, which I created after resigning from my position, along with the millions of others who left their jobs as part of The Great Resignation. For the first time in nearly 40 years, I am not an employee, which brings considerable freedom.

I was in the c-suite as Vice President of Advancement and Executive Director of a nonprofit foundation. Now I am a full-time consultant and author, promoting my new book: Involuntary Exit, A Woman’s Guide to Thriving After Being Fired.

Whether planned or unplanned, we all struggle with beginning again, and my goal, like EvolveMe's, is to help women navigate forward. I’ve embarked on a promotional tour, which is exciting. At the same time, I’m coaching women based on my book while consulting for nonprofits, which helps me give back to my profession.

What prompted your career reinvention?

Having worked in the top ranks of major, complex, non-profit organizations, I have always tried to help women rise along with me, as much as possible. Having graduated from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and being one of the first women to desegregate Rutgers College, as an English major no less, I love writing and the art of communication.

So, my reinvention was in some ways a return to what I had always loved doing: writing, building relationships, and mentoring, sponsoring, and leading.

What's the best thing about mid-life career change?

I’m honestly at a three-quarter career change, and the best thing is that I’m learning so many new skills and meeting so many new people. I’m learning about publishing, public speaking, and performance, marketing, branding, consulting business models, behavioral economics—it’s like I’m inventing an entirely new me. But this version of myself has the benefit of decades of perspective so the runway to my goals isn’t littered with (as many) bogus moves.

Not to be underestimated as a best thing: the people I’m meeting. About a year ago, my son said after listening to me whine about something dispiriting, "Mom, you need a new friend group." My new group of people may not all be friends but they sure are interesting, inspiring, and have so much to offer.

"...this version of myself has the benefit of decades of perspective so the runway to my goals isn’t littered with (as many) bogus moves."

What's the biggest challenge?

There is the biggest emotional challenge and the biggest practical challenge.

In the case of the former, it’s fear. Fear stops us in our tracks and becomes a false narrative in our heads that we replay: I can’t because. I actually heard someone—a man—repeat the hackneyed phrase of all those who stay stuck: Better to know the devil I know than the devil I don’t know. Really? What makes anyone think they know anyone’s motives who’s in power?

As for the latter, the practical challenges come down to finances and healthcare. I have long been the primary source of support for my family. Until my children were old enough to be financially secure and obtain their own health insurance, I was nervous. They weren’t, but I was.

What's your personal mantra/mission? Why?

My mantra: Growth, opportunity, hope. Let’s hold on to that. It’s so easy to forget how much we can grow and offer others. We have to be deliberate every day to move forward.

Your best career advice for other women at midlife is...

Please, don’t let yourself get golden-handcuffed to a job. If you’re unhappy or need to move on for your mental health, take the risk, embrace uncertainty, face the fear. I don’t mean to be too "out there" but it’s amazing how the right people come into your life at the right time. I’ve seen it happen again and again because women were ready and open to paying attention to opportunities.


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