Rebecca Hellmann started her career following all the rules: going to college, getting her MBA, progressing up the ladder in her career. She became a marketing executive at a Fortune 50 Company, and then left to became a Chief Marketing Officer at a healthcare startup. Rebecca was winning in her career, but with four young kids at home, she was feeling burned out. When COVID hit, she knew that something had to give, and that was her corporate job. She took a year off to focus on herself through a mindfulness and meditation program. Reinvigorated and inspired, Rebecca knew that she had found her calling. She now owns her own Mindfulness and Meditation practice called Present Life, Beautiful Life, where she introduces mindfulness concepts to individuals and corporate groups to help them find their inner balance just like she did. Learn more about Rebecca Hellmann and her story on the Second Act Success Podcast.
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Second Act Success Podcast
Season 1 - Chief Marketing Officer to Teaching Mindfullness with Rebecca Hellmann | Episode #55
Guest: Rebecca Hellman
Host: Shannon Russell
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Rebecca Hellman: If you get a bigger job, you take a bigger job and a bigger salary and more responsibility. And I was very much on that path. And I remember thinking, what about if I do something pays less but is more nourishing and I work longer? Hmm.
[00:00:18] Shannon Russell:
Are you at a crossroads in your career? Ready for a change, but you're not sure how to get there. Don't worry. We are about to produce your best life together. Welcome to the Second Act Success Podcast. I am your host. Shannon Russell. I am a former Television Producer turned boy mom. I left my dream job to find family balance and in doing so, I produced my dream life. Now I am a Business Owner, Podcaster, and Career Coach. My mission is to help other women, like you, find what they are truly meant to be doing. If you are ready to start over in your career or pivot to a new purpose, then get ready to be inspired by stories of women who have done just that. [00:01:00] We will share advice and actionable tips to motivate you as you move along on your path. It is time to shine. So let's start producing your balanced life of abundance today. This is Second Act Success.
\ have you ever felt burned out with work? The paycheck is good. You love what you do, but the hours, the workload, the pressure consumes your every waking moment.
Today. I am speaking with a former marketing executive of a Fortune 50 Company. Who's succombed to burnout and simply ran out of gas as she was climbing the corporate ladder. Rebecca Hellman traded in her golden parachute. To study mindfulness and found her calling as a mindfulness coach. She is here to share her story of struggles and how she landed in a place where she is finally doing her life's work.
This is Rebecca Hellman and her Second Act Success story.
Hello, [00:02:00] Rebecca Hellman. Welcome to the podcast.
[00:02:02] Rebecca Hellman: Thank you for having me.
[00:02:04] Shannon Russell: Why don't you tell me where your career journey began.
[00:02:07] Rebecca Hellman: My first job after college, all the way through to the end of my thirties, beginning of my forties, I was. Growing my career, job opportunities, a couple of moves and four children.
I've always loved marketing and healthcare, and so that's where I started. and then, moved in additional marketing roles all the time, continuing that touch with healthcare. And so that's really the kind of consistent element in my journey.
[00:02:36] Shannon Russell: Was healthcare important to you during college or was it more of the marketing?
[00:02:40] Rebecca Hellman: healthcare was actually where I thought I would be. I always intended that I would be a physician. And it's interesting, I look back at that now and I still see this element of myself that I was gonna be a physician because that's what the best people did. And so even at a young age, I was [00:03:00] striving to what I thought the top pinnacle looked like.
To me that was a physician. in college I recognized like, that's not really where I wanna spend my time. I loved science, I loved business. My undergraduates from the University of Notre Dame and they had a major called science business, which often led you into the science or the business side of healthcare, which was the great marriage of my two loves.
And so that's really what brought me there.
[00:03:28] Shannon Russell: isn't that fantastic that you can go to college and then find something completely different that you never thought about, and it fits you so much better than what you dreamed of as you entered college?
[00:03:38] Rebecca Hellman: It's so interesting as I think about that age in our life where we're supposed to know what we wanna do. I'm really grateful, yeah, that I could make a little bit of that shift at 20, and then maintain some level of continuity at that, at least for the first act of my career, which was a pretty consistent story [00:04:00] around marketing strategy in healthcare.
[00:04:03] Shannon Russell: then you graduate and you go to get your first job in, in marketing, and it's at a healthcare corporation.
[00:04:10] Rebecca Hellman: consulting. And so I started with 10 or 12 young other eager beavers, in a new city and loved it. Worked a lot, played a lot. I think back in upon that time in my life, it was a ton of fond memories because there was a ton of growth intellectually and personally and with a lot of great friendships.
So a really great landing spot coming outta college.
[00:04:37] Shannon Russell: your career just grew from there and you became more of a leader in the field. after my first job, I decided I would go get my mba, which was again, the kind of the next logical step that everyone was doing. Went into strategy consulting and that was the first time that I was kind of balancing being on the road a lot with a marriage I was on the [00:05:00] road a lot and so then I went closer into industry, and started moving down the marketing path a little bit more specifically.
[00:05:06] Rebecca Hellman: I love the mix of creative and analytical. A really good aspect of who I am. I really like to think about growth, so how to grow things, build things, create things, is always the element of marketing that I loved.
[00:05:21] Shannon Russell: You ended up, at a Fortune 50 company. Is that right?
[00:05:25] Rebecca Hellman: That's right. So after a couple of Moves after business school strategy consulting and then went to an IT company. That point, I had four children, four and younger, and moved my family to Columbus, Ohio, For a leadership role at a very large company. And so that was also a great experience, leading a pretty big team in a pretty big pond and learned how big companies work and, learned about great culture and the touch with patients. And so that was also a really rewarding part of my [00:06:00] career.
[00:06:01] Shannon Russell: I don't like the question that people often ask about how do you balance? A career with children, but with you with four children under four. I just have to ask, how did you take on a new role with these four little ones? That must have been a lot of long, long days for you at that point in your, in your life.
[00:06:20] Rebecca Hellman: It was, and I wish I had incredibly valuable pearls of wisdom. I had an incredible support system.
[00:06:29] Shannon Russell: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:30] Rebecca Hellman: And that was really helpful. Somebody who I thought was a real partner with me in helping me navigate. The responsibilities, the logistics of having kids. While I was trying to navigate a really big job
I also tried to involve my kids a little bit. They will still talk about coming with me to that organization and holding a meeting and sitting in a conference room with me and they would wear. Branded shirts of where I worked. Like we had a lot of pride in what I did. My sisters and I talk [00:07:00] a lot about not trying to have balance all the time. Knowing there's times when you need to sprint at work and there's times where you really need to be at home. And just being conscious. Are you keeping a balance? over some period of time and not freaking out too much if one gets a little outta whack. But trusting and watching that over the longer term, you feel comfortable with the trade-offs.
But my empathy now, even in the role I'm in now, is very much with professional working women. I think it's a big load to carry. And one where we often don't feel we have a lot of support. I do have a lot of empathy for that, for that group of people, cuz we carry a lot.
[00:07:41] Shannon Russell: we carry a lot. And I like that you use the word sprint because it really is a sprint sometimes. That kind of juggle between the working aspect of ourselves and the mother aspect of ourselves it's a sprint. I love.
[00:07:54] Rebecca Hellman: One of the elements I'm starting to understand now is your kids need [00:08:00] different things at different ages. So when they're really little, it was a bit of the, for me, was a bit of the practicalities of shuffling. now, as my kids are in their newly teens. It's about availability and being really, really there when they need you. It just pulls upon different aspects of what you give and when you give it that. I don't know that I had a full appreciation for when. I was trying to tie four kids', shoes and diapers and meals, and it was just, it was a very different energy and tired and joy. It was just all very different.
[00:08:39] Shannon Russell: then you're at this big firm and then you decide to pivot and go to a startup. Tell me when that occurred and what the thought process was for that.
[00:08:47] Rebecca Hellman: There was a time in my life also personally where I was starting to open up to new opportunities to just think about not necessarily doing what was safe, but maybe doing what I was called [00:09:00] to do of. Questioning myself around when I would tell myself, well, I need to keep doing this. Actually, you don't. Can you try something else? And that opportunity with this startup also felt very serendipitous. It was in my backyard, in healthcare, in a space that I thought was really answering. a critical problem and a really big role to really help build a company. I thought I had time in my life to make one last big move and thinking if that didn't work, I could go back to the organizations I knew really well, which were large organizations and. I jumped what felt to be a jump at the time and went to, the world of a startup,
[00:09:41] Shannon Russell: what was that like? That's a whole new beast, isn.
[00:09:44] Rebecca Hellman: a whole new beast. I've said before, it was the hardest job I've ever had and probably potentially the one that I loved the most, just for different reasons I learned so much. The speed was incredibly different. The lack of guardrails. There wasn't [00:10:00] much defined and so you had to define it all and you got to really build. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was able to bring a lot of what I knew from the large corporate life, but there I learned grit and I learned tenacity, and I learned passion and it was all modeled, um, by our CEO so that was also a really great learning for me.
[00:10:24] Shannon Russell: And how long were you there at that startup?
[00:10:26] Rebecca Hellman: I was there about two and a half years. And that was when Covid hit. Again, we are in healthcare so as the chief marketing officer, the customers we were looking at to help us grow this business were facing really, really big challenges. Triages in the emergency room, physicians that weren't getting breaks, lack of p p E, and you sat really close to that just as a business. then as a leader of the company, you held a lot of responsibility around. How do we treat our employees? When do we leave [00:11:00] the office? There were so many unknowns. And then, I ultimately resigned from that company about six months later.
But I, you know, there's a few moments that appear to be watershed moments, and I actually think decisions are more a series of really small ahas and turns. However, I can explicitly remember I was on a day long series of Zoom calls. My four kids were all at home doing. Zoom School. We didn't even have enough devices for everyone to try and stay connected. The internet would go off and,, meanwhile you're reading news about people dying at alarming rates. And I remember thinking, is this what life is all about? While I'm trying so hard to hold it all together and, yeah, it really hit. life is exceptionally precious.
[00:11:54] Shannon Russell: It really woke you up to a new act or to [00:12:00] resign and, and, and start over in some capacity.
[00:12:03] Rebecca Hellman: It was, it was. hard to say. It was one thing. It was this combination. Both of me personally, I was outta gas. On the outside, professional woman, rising career, great family holding it all together. And that's what you would kind of see on the outside. and really what I was doing on the inside was an entirely different story.
I was running all the time. I was rushing, I was striving, I was juggling, I was overthinking. Many times I would realize I hadn't even taken a moment to use the restroom to eat my lunch. It was frenetic and yeah, and I kind of folded my cards I was burn.
[00:12:44] Shannon Russell: Mm.
[00:12:44] Rebecca Hellman: was going to take a year off was my plan. Um, but I had all the classic symptoms with burnout. I was irritable and grumpy and tired and lacking passion and just, yeah, I was really at this spot where I was outta gas.[00:13:00]
[00:13:00] Shannon Russell: It hit you. Yeah. It just, it catches up and you just, you can't be good for anyone in that position. I've interviewed burnout coaches and,, it gets to a point where it's just, unhealthy in every aspect, I'm glad that you were self-aware enough to notice that and to put yourself ahead of, what it appeared to be as a perfect life, you, you just needed to take care of you.
[00:13:25] Rebecca Hellman: Yeah, that sounds much wiser than it felt at the moment. Actually,
[00:13:30] Shannon Russell: Hmm. I'm sure.
[00:13:31] Rebecca Hellman: What's funny is I look back, I now feel like I am incredibly self-aware. I know how to take care of myself. I know how to take breaks. I actually didn't know that at the time. I almost feel like at that point I didn't have all those tools, and so I crashed and burned, which is to me the wake up call.
Like, how do we instead take care of ourself along the way so that doesn't happen now I'm like, oh yeah, that life [00:14:00] before was so hard and now I feel like I have both much more balance in my life, but also skills that I use and now bring to others to help avoid hopefully, this disconnection between what we look like on the outside and what we're feeling on the inside.
[00:14:18] Shannon Russell: When you're sprinting, as you said before, you're sprinting, you're doing all the things, everything looks perfect, you never take a pause and then here the whole world pauses and you are finally able. to crash and burn, like you said.
, So Rebecca, you walked away from this very successful job that you were excelling in. How was that to walk away from so much stability?
[00:14:41] Rebecca Hellman: It's a really interesting question. I feel like I was doing. what you're supposed to do, right? if you get a bigger job, you take a bigger job and everybody wants a bigger job and a bigger salary and more responsibility. And I was very much on that [00:15:00] path. a couple of things hit me. One is, is this level of intensity, this pressure, this lack of time and presence worth it. The other is, I remember one time in the irony I had done this all my life, right? We're raised to put away for retirement. So we work really, really, really hard, socking all this money away. So then we can stop working and in the meantime, while we're living, we may or may not be enjoying our job, but it's taking a lot out of us all with this promise of the future. thought a little bit about whether that's actually the paradox I wanted to live in, and I remember thinking, what about if I do something pays less but is more nourishing and I work longer? Hmm. That might be another interesting way to move through life. And so I think that kind of propelled me to walk away what felt from this [00:16:00] traditional corporate ladder experience to thinking about life and how I would manage my life today through retirement in a different way.
[00:16:11] Shannon Russell: Yes, and I think that's so interesting because my mission, with this podcast is to help people realize that they don't have to follow the same cookie cutter path that, we kind of grew up thinking that we had to with getting the big successful job, getting married, having the kids retiring, I feel like there's so much more to life, and it's not so much about the money and the things as how we feel every single day.
tell me about your next step then. So now you're sitting here at home with your four kids and you don't have to go to work, and what do you start? You start doing some self-reflection.
[00:16:48] Rebecca Hellman: What I had decided to do was,, take this year off and use it for mindfulness teacher training. And that was not with the pursuit of necessarily being a mindfulness [00:17:00] teacher. It was to give myself some structure in an otherwise undefined year off. Many people I speak to think I took this big leap. To me. It was one that said, no, I'm just gonna go do something else for a year. That felt very safe. So I like the definition of that, which is I have a plan for a year and this year is to go through this program, and then at the end of that year, I'll decide what calls to me. It might just be I filled up my tank and I will go back to being a marketing executive.
[00:17:30] Shannon Russell: What brought you to mindfulness?
[00:17:32] Rebecca Hellman: I felt more, I was called to it than it was a part of me already. Probably four or five years or prior to leaving the startup. I had tapped into a few aspects of personal inquiry. Silence. Yoga was the first way I tapped into it. I started making yoga just a little bit more part of my life. I, joined a 12 step [00:18:00] recovery program where introspection and community are a big part of. The experience there. So that opened up a little bit more around spirituality and the concept of something bigger. So these were these little tastes, and, meditation is a part of it. I remember seeing, like on Facebook, somebody posted a picture and it said something along the lines of, you know, that feeling you get when you're doing your something you really enjoy, do more of that. And that became a little bit of my North Star. Okay, what do I really feel full? Where do I really feel nourished? Maybe that's what I do for a year. So it was really more open than it was about, I wanna go do mindfulness and meditation teacher training. It was landing on something that felt called to my heart that I found a program that did it. And it wasn't much more thought than that.
[00:18:56] Shannon Russell: I love that. So it really was meant to be to, to [00:19:00] participate in this program.
[00:19:01] Rebecca Hellman: we met together four times throughout the 12 months. And the rest of the time it was, kind of programmatic learning in between the first class where you sit with your teachers and you sit with your classmates. I really felt like I was home, the sense of openness, of patience, of trusting in your own goodness.
those were words that were so not a part of my life before, but felt like this warm bath I was entering. And I said, I just, I really wanna make this a little bit more of who I am and where I spend my time and what I do. You.
[00:19:39] Shannon Russell: what was that journey like? Kind of figuring out how you. This into a career or just a part of your future?
[00:19:46] Rebecca Hellman: I love that I had that year to not have to decide what I was gonna do with it. , I was able to just marinate in it, practice it, soak it up. I read every book I. Went on [00:20:00] several retreats. I talked to teachers. I grew with my class. I'll trust a little bit and let it unfold. So then we graduate and now I'm like, oh, now's the moment. What am I gonna do? As a part of our class, we had to teach one practicum class, and so I actually taught that at my old startup, which was great. So a nice way to marry these relationships I had there with this new skill I was looking to build.
It was a really nice fit, and when I taught that class, once again, I was like, this is what I'm meant to do. It felt more right than many things had. And so what I love about where I am in my journey now as I look to make this my full profession, is it gets to marry two of my loves, which is growing and thinking about. How to create a business that really serves a need and at the same time, this new skill, and this really warm, nourishing [00:21:00] feeling I get from bringing mindfulness and meditation to others.
[00:21:04] Shannon Russell: You know what it's like to be a corporate leader, have that stress and then feel burnout and needing to reconnect. Who better to bring these programs and these practices to people in the corporate world than you? So you're teaching mindfulness, now you're a mindfulness teacher. What does that look like? How do clients find you and just kind of talk to me about that day to day.
[00:21:28] Rebecca Hellman: So there's a couple of ways that I teach, and because I am growing this business on my own, I get to really be responsive to what the need is cuz where I started was teaching kind of open enrollment classes online. We were still really in covid. But what it's also opened up is access. So in a typical class, I may have people from Boston to Chicago to Indiana, and that's helped, me, right? Because much of my [00:22:00] attraction still is friends, family, people who knew me, and now referrals from people who take my class.
So having a national. accessibility has actually been really helpful. I started off teaching these beginner classes. Typically that's a six week class and we meet once a week for six weeks. It's a really nice journey. We talk both about why we do what we do. We practice as a group, and then they have things to work on during the week. And then we come back together and we say, how did it work? What are your challenges? And there's just a real growth as. Humans who are doing it together. And I still do that. I have an open enrollment class a couple of times a year. What has also opened up is teaching at corporations. Mental health, employee wellness is so critical right now. And so a lot of employers are asking themselves, how do we give our employees more tools to deal with the natural pressures of life, work, family? Growing old, all of these challenges, and so often I [00:23:00] get the opportunity to come in and teach at an organiz. and then I also have a chance to speak and just talk about what mindfulness is, what it is not, how is it powerful, what impact has it had on me. then I also recently just started a year long program for people who've completed the introductory course. After people take this course, some say, great, thanks. I'm on my way. And others say I want more. Like I showed up in this place.
That felt really nourishing and rewarding and open and supportive. I'm not ready to let go. And so now we have a year long program where with the same cohort of people, you get to practice in a different way for a year together. Each of those though has been me. Listening, knowing what's been impactful in my own life and designing against that, explicitly hearing what the opportunity is and then being really responsive, to where I think I can be of service.[00:24:00]
[00:24:00] Shannon Russell: What a perfect fit for you. For listeners who are thinking about becoming more mindful what is some advice you might give them? How can mindfulness really help us as a parent, or help us be a better employee or team member or leader at work.
[00:24:16] Rebecca Hellman: What mindfulness has allowed me to do is be with what is. So when my child's in front of me, I can just listen with an open heart and not fix, or. Control or do all these things that I wanna do or be back in the world or that I just left because I left an email. But to be fully there and be present, it's given me such a depth of patience, a depth of kindness, of compassion, and also a ton of advocacy because I think now when I sit in a place of wise presence, I can actually advocate in such a stronger way for those injustices that I see. It has changed how I parent. It has changed how I [00:25:00] lead. In my most important relationships. It's really changed how I show up and who I am.
[00:25:05] Shannon Russell: Your business is called Present Life. Beautiful Life.
[00:25:09] Rebecca Hellman: It is. I really was intentional because I think life is beautiful. but we only get to experience it when we're here. And it's not just the good, it's being open to all the emotions that come our way. Just makes this really rich, juicy, beautiful life. that I just don't wanna miss. I think it's only here when we're in the present that we can touch into the beauty of this one life We. So yes, the name of my organization is Present Life, beautiful Life.
[00:25:41] Shannon Russell: and how can our audience connect with.
[00:25:44] Rebecca Hellman: The best way is through my website, which is rebeccahellman.com, and I'm always happy to chat or email or stay in touch and hear some reflections and thoughts on mindfulness and the impact it can have.
[00:25:58] Shannon Russell: Well, Rebecca, this was such a [00:26:00] wonderful conversation So thank you so much.
[00:26:02] Rebecca Hellman: Thank you for bringing this topic to the forefront. It can give a lot of people the courage and the inspiration to do what they're feeling nudged to do. So thank you for the work you're doing.
[00:26:13] Shannon Russell: Well, there, you have it from chief marketing officer to mindfulness teacher. Rebecca is leading by example that the big paycheck and the title don't mean anything. If you are not present and happy in this one life we are given. I hope that you've been inspired by Rebecca's major career move. And maybe it has you thinking about where you are right now on your journey?
To view, show notes from this episode and to catch up on more episodes of the Second Act Success Podcast, head over to secondactsuccess.co/podcast. I'll be back with more career advice, inspiration and success stories. On our next episode. In the meantime, make it a great day and I will chat with you soon.
[00:26:58] Shannon: Thank you for joining us. [00:27:00] I hope you found some gems of inspiration and some takeaways to help you on your path to Second Act Success. To view show notes from this episode, visit secondactsuccess.co. Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast. So you don't miss a single episode. Reviews only take a few moments and they really do mean so much. Thank you again for listening. I am Shannon Russell, and this is Second Act Success.