How I Went From Hollywood Agent to Self-Help Guru

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Christine Hassler has been known as a personal growth guru for 20-somethings since 2005. She is the author of the best-selling books Twenty-Something, Twenty-Everything and The Twenty-Something Manifesto. Here Christine talks about her career transition from Hollywood literary agent to self-employed consultant.

Before the ink on my college diploma was dry, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of working on the business side of the entertainment industry. By the age of 26, I was a television literary agent at one of the most prestigious entertainment companies in Los Angeles. I was climbing the Hollywood corporate ladder at a speed that kept me on the fast track for success. There was just one problem: I was absolutely miserable.

Forget 9-to-5, I was working 24/7 and still felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day. Not having a personal life and being stressed out were like a badge of honor at my firm. Every day I tried to talk myself into liking my job because I felt an obligation to stay. I had spent five years building my career, not to mention the $100,000 investment in my education to prepare me for it. This job was something I had always wanted and the reality that it wasn’t turning out like I planned left me with a huge expectation hangover. I was yearning to invest my time and energy into something that mattered to me. Eventually the urge to satisfy that craving became so intense, I quit the job I had worked so hard to get.

(MORE: Becoming an Entrepreneur Was the Smartest Risk I Ever Took)

Leaving my prestigious career turned out to be a step rather than a solution. Since I had always loved health and fitness I became a personal trainer and soon realized that trying to transform my hobby into a business was not the answer either. I had assumed that the secret to business success was to find something I loved and make a business of it. What I learned was that starting a successful business involved both an adjustment and reflection period.

A corporate gig does have its perks like a steady paycheck, health care, an expense account, and a group of people to be surrounded and motivated by all day. The transition to self-employment was humbling, lonely and expensive. I had to adjust to a lifestyle that was not glamorous at all. The freedom and flexibility I had craved also came with a lot of stress and sleepless nights about how I was going to pay my rent.

I had nine different “pay-the-bills” jobs over the course of three years while I moonlighted as an entrepreneur wanna-be. I attempted to launch businesses in the fields of network marketing, freelance writing, and consulting. None of them really took off and I began questioning whether or not I truly had what it took to become a successful entrepreneur.

This questioning led to a profound realization that was the game-changer for me. My motivation up until that point had been aspiration rather than inspiration. My corporate career as an agent made me feel great about myself. The success was intoxicating and I tried desperately to create the same prestige as an entrepreneur. Instead of figuring out what I could give, I was looking for what I could get. Finally, it dawned on me that the expectation hangover I had in my corporate career and the internal angst that I was feeling could be things other people could relate to.

(MORE: How I Knew It Was Time to Quit My Day Job)

Inspiration finally struck and I realized that what I truly wanted was to help others answer the questions I was struggling with: who am I, what do I really want, and how do I get it? As soon as I connected with that purpose, the momentum started. My first book was published in 2005, and that launched my life coaching business. A year later I started speaking professionally and consulting with corporations on generational diversity. Today my business is thriving. But more importantly, my career is motivated by what I can give rather than what I can get. Now that is something to feel passionate about.

Founded by Scott Gerber, the Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.