I Left My Unfulfilling Office Job to Become an Entrepreneur and Travel the World. Here's How I Did It.
With passion, education and a plan, you can turn your wildest dreams into your reality.
More than 260 million people suffer from depression and anxiety in the United States. It's one of the top three workplace problems for employees and costs the global economy over a trillion dollars in lost productivity every year. When I looked around and noticed that I was becoming a statistic, I knew something had to change.
Holding a degree in commerce and international business had gotten me a good office job. I further got certifications in data science and data analysis with IBM to enhance my skills. While I was good at my job and it provided stability, I felt stuck. “Who is Pablo Valero?” was a question I would often ask myself. The people I was surrounded with had different goals in life. As I didn't have enough in common with my co-workers to bother socializing with them, I became withdrawn and could feel the wanderer in me beginning to suffocate. What tipped me over the edge was how my manager always had something negative to say about me or my work. I was feeling more stressed and depressed each passing day.
Making a change
Working in a corporate job was enough to help me earn a good living, but I never had a chance to travel, even for business purposes, which led to boredom. I was determined to make a change. I started applying to other jobs while still working at my office job. One of the jobs I applied for was on a cruise ship. Within a month of applying, I went through the interview process and was hired. I immediately quit my office job and was flown to Miami to start working on my first cruise ship, Navigator of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International.
While the position wasn't without its challenges — one of the most significant being working on a ship every day for seven to nine months — I finally felt like the people around me were aligned with my own goals, ideas and vision. I loved the experience of traveling for a cruise line and meeting new people as part of my work. It was a thrilling 180 from my old office job. I was getting paid to travel the world and meet people from different countries and cultures. Since I didn't have to pay expenses like gas, food, electricity and water bills or rent, I was taking home almost as much money as I was making at my old job without any of the depression and stress I had experienced. Working on cruise ships makes me happy, and for me, that's more important than money.
Charting a new course after the pandemic
When the Covid-19 pandemic started, it was pure chaos for the cruise line. No one seemed to know what to do — not even the company. Fortunately, my contract had ended in January 2020. By the time the news of Covid started spreading in March, I was already back home in Mexico, creating a steady income source using my passions. My friends who were still on board were being quarantined, sick or losing their jobs — the stress levels were through the roof. Some of them even took their own lives after not being able to earn from the company. I was so grateful to be home and put all the energy I had into making a career out of something I genuinely love.
I've always been enthusiastic about fitness and health, and I even became a certified personal trainer. But my most valuable certification turned out to be in social-media marketing from Facebook. This certification helped me start my own business during the pandemic. I started my business, Valero Media, by surrounding myself with people in the space and using the things I learned at Facebook, like reaching out to influencers on social media and focusing on people who seem to have trouble with consistency and quality content. All you have to do is get out there and reach out to people. You will never land a client if you never connect with him or her. This is the key to everything in this business. It's also how I quickly grew my agency to over seven figures in under a year, even with the pandemic in full swing.
I think that it's easy for me to quickly connect and break the ice with people after doing it every day for seven months on the cruise ship. We had 3-day cruises, and on each cruise, there are approximately 3,000 people. So, imagine how easy it got for me to connect with that many people every three days for a contract of seven to nine months. It's something I'm used to doing, and I leveraged it.
Related: Passion, People, Process
The road ahead
Traveling is one of the best ways to reset your mind and body. While most people crave a big vacation every year, I find it extremely difficult to settle in a single place for a long time as a true travel enthusiast. The wanderlust in me can drive me crazy if I don't explore new places.
Traveling has helped me develop my inner self. Visiting new places and meeting so many people have expanded my connections more than my office job ever did. I'm able to grab new opportunities from around the world and even utilize them to grow my agency Valero Media. This newfound confidence is also reflected in my multiple investments made in many different markets.
I'm now focused on expanding my agency and am working hard to make it happen. This way, I can help more brands monetize their efforts on social-media platforms. Running a successful agency means that I can fuel my passion for traveling. I'm planning to return to cruise ships to explore new places and meet more people. This way, I can satisfy the wanderer in me while ensuring that I'm financially stable with my social-media-marketing agency supporting me. I feel that money is a passing thing that doesn't charm while passion can last for a lifetime.
In hopes to inspire people who hesitate to chase their dreams, fearing uncertainties, I've proven that switching from a stable job to pursue one's passion can be life-changing in a positive way. My advice is to, no matter what, follow what truly makes you happy even if money is not as good as other options you might have. I'm going to keep doing what makes me happy and the things I have the most fun doing: traveling and staying healthy. The social-media-marketing agency will continue to thrive and grow while I'm on the cruise ship traveling the world.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor