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Leaving Corporate America: Charlene Dupray

In high school, I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed”.  Determined to live up to the prophecy,  a decade later I found myself climbing a Madison Avenue corporate ladder as a headhunter for more than three hundred multinational corporations.  I lived in a great Upper East Side apartment, earned an impressive salary, and worked more than sixty hours a week.  Some might  have said that I was well on my way to achieving that high school superlative, but something was missing.  I didn’t feel successful. On my quest to unravel the truth about success, I discovered a quote by Norman Lear.  He said, “Success is how you collect your minutes.  You spend millions of minutes to reach one triumph, one moment, then you spend maybe a thousand minutes enjoying it…. If you were unhappy through those millions of minutes, what good are those few minutes of  triumph?”  I was  spending millions of minutes sitting behind a desk in exchange for money that I used to rent an apartment I didn’t even have the time to enjoy.

A few years later, I found the courage to trade in the paychecks, the security, the weekly manicures and the expensive haircuts for the  minutes.   Eight months ago, my French husband and I moved back to my
hometown of  Wilmington, North Carolina and started South ‘n’ France an artisanal company that makes hand-dipped chocolate bon bons.  My experience in the first Wilmington, NC,  Ladies Who Launch incubator helped us to generate free publicity for the  company and take the leap to secure a business
loan for our first national candy trade show, where our bon bons were voted Best New Chocolate Product.

These days, instead of a business suit, my professional attire consists of  a huge pink hat decorated with cakes and candies and bon bons.  We converted an old luncheonette into our bon bon factory, and now my commute takes about thirty seconds—the time to walk from our living quarters to the 39-by-14-foot kitchen where we produce, pack and ship our product. I’m still working more than sixty hours a week and I’ve yet to earn a salary, but I’m loving every minute of it.  I’ve found my version of success.

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From Ladies Who Launch’s Blog – http://ladieswholaunch.typepad.com

Charlene Dupray is the owner of South’n’ France and a member of the Ladies Who Launch Incubator in Wilmington, NC.


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