Discover more from Anchor Change with Katie Harbath
How I Mapped Out My Post-Facebook Journey
The story of how I got comfortable making the leap and figuring out what’s next
A few weeks ago I wrote about the process that I went through in deciding to leave Facebook. That one was very much focused on the emotional process. What I didn’t cover were all of the very practical steps I took that also played a role in helping me to make the leap. I got some very nice feedback on that first piece and some asks for more info on this part so that’s what I am focusing on today.
Picture it: DC, January 2020. At this point, I still think I’m staying at Facebook, but I’m also not 100 percent sure. At the time I’d have put the chances at 80/20. I am no longer in my role coordinating elections and I’m trying to figure out if there’s a different kind of role I can carve out that won’t encroach on that team but will keep me involved in the topic from a strict policy sense. This is where I realize all of the elections happening in 2024 and that it’s the “event” that I want to anchor my work towards.
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Sometime in January or February, I go to visit Lori Brewer Collins who is an executive coach and over the years has just become a wonderful person to bounce problems like this off of. She mentions to me that she knows of a few women in similar spots to me - mid to late thirties and trying to figure out that next step in their career. She’s thinking about maybe bringing a group together.
Then March comes crashing down on the world. I’m going nuts not having much to do at work and not being able to help. Everyone is scrambling and any conversations about a new role for me go somewhat out the window. I’m put on a team and we try to figure out if there’s something I can do to help with all the COVID efforts.
Also this month we have the first virtual meeting of what would become to be known as the Kickass Women’s Group and Glennon Doyle’s book “Untamed” was released. We decide that we’re going to focus our time together on exploring life and career possibilities and crafting a vision/roadmap for our future. To help guide us in that conversation we started using the book “Life Forward.”
April and May become a month of a lot of discovery and facing hard realities. Books like Life Forward give me the tools to put structure around what I was going through. I especially found helpful this chart from the book’s author Pamela D. McLean about the cycle of change. Lori helped me to realize that I was really going to want to do the mini transition but what I really should do is allow myself to cocoon and get ready.
Ooof. I do not like looking inward. I much prefer to just keep blazing forward. But something in me also told me Lori was right. Besides, not like I was able to go and do anything. While I’ve long been a journaler, I started a whole separate journal to answer some of the questions being prompted to me by the book and our Kickass Women’s discussions.
What also happened in May was that I finally read Untamed. Holy freaking shit do I love that book. I’ve recommended it to a ton of people since reading it. Glennon uses her own story to encourage people to start living their true lives. Now I know this sounds like a lot of soft, squishy stuff that many of you might recoil at. Frankly, some of it is. But it was - and still is - incredibly empowering. We’re all goddammed cheetahs and deserve to be free. (read the book you’ll get the reference)
Ok, so I’ve got my support group of amazing women, I’ve got a great coach asking me the hard questions, I’ve got tools at my disposal and stories to empower me. Next, I start charting things out.
For those of you who know me, I love charts. Last summer I even made a very detailed one about what coffee maker I should buy. June and July were spent planning.
First, I got myself some paper and Mr. Sketch markers (those things will always put a smile on my face) and started mapping out what I wanted. I knew I wanted to stay at the intersection of technology and democracy and I wanted to keep a global lens to that work. I wanted to mentor/manage people, build my own voice/thought leadership brand, build things and spend more time with family and friends. Finally, I mapped out all the various places where I could do this work. What came out was this:
Note: The trailblazer in the middle comes from the fact that every job I’ve had in my career except for one or two never existed before I had them. I wanted the reminder front and center that I could figure out something new.
This was helpful in mapping out all of my options but I certainly couldn’t do ALL of these at once (though I definitely have a hard time ruthlessly prioritizing sometimes). So, the next step was to get really practical. I started mapping out the pros and cons of these various options. I figured out what my monthly expenses would be to go out on my own and I looked at how much money I’d be giving up depending on when I might actually leave Facebook. I gave myself goals each month for things I could do to keep myself on track. That turned into a version of this eleven-page document. I made a public version of it for those of you interested in looking that obscures details such as my own salary and some of the FB details. But there are still a lot of specifics in there about what I was thinking about.
I put this together while sitting on the deck at my parent’s cabin. The biggest insight I had was that I needed to make a call no later than March of 2021 and if I’m being honest with myself that the right call was going to be to leave.
As I outlined in the other piece the journey to actually make this leap had a lot more twists and turns. One Saturday in August I sat down and wrote out a whole plan around things that needed to be done to get ready for all the 2024 elections. One version looked at what that work could be at Facebook and another at what it could look like outside of Facebook. I even secured URLs like 2024project.com. I sent it off to Facebook as well as a few other trusted mentors for thoughts.
The fall of 2020 was a blur. I sort of kept up with my to-do list, but things were busy. It wasn’t until December and January that the rubber started to hit the road. It was in late December that I realized that I wasn’t going to get the clarity in the timeframe I wanted from Facebook on if my proposal was viable for them or not. January 6th happened and I just simply couldn’t stand sitting on the sidelines anymore. So, I started talking to some folks. I even did one interview, but my intuition was guiding me pretty strongly that being full-time at one organization was not going to be a good fit for me. Instead, I should go out on my own.
I started brainstorming names for my company, talked to some of my friends who had made that leap, got introduced to an amazing graphic designer to make my logo, and an accountant who helped to reassure me that I could financially do this. I also started talking to people I knew at different organizations to see if they might hire me. I’ll always be so thankful to the Bipartisan Policy Center for giving me my first gig. If you’re curious about all of the folks I worked with and the tools I used to set up Anchor Change I have them listed here.
While I was in the middle of doing all of that I pulled the ripcord and told Facebook I was leaving about a week before my ten-year faceversary. I left in mid-March and launched Anchor Change on April 1, 2021.
The journey since leaving is probably worth its own story as this newsletter is already quite long. Let me just say I’m still figuring it out. I keep joking that I’m like goldilocks and trying to figure out what fits. I miss a lot about Facebook, but I don’t regret taking this step for one minute.
I hope this helps those of you who are thinking about any sort of life/career transition. Everyone’s journey is very different. This is what worked for me. Yours might be different. Having a support group of people, a coach, and tools to guide me as well as a vision and plan to follow gave me the courage I needed to make the leap. Please reach out if I can be of any help as you go through you’re own journey.
What I’m Reading
Wired: Meet the Lobbyist Next Door
New York Times: A 2024 Presidential Candidate Who Meets the Moment
Washington Post: Ukraine says Big Tech has dropped the ball on Russian propaganda
New York Times: The Fight Over Truth Also Has a Red State, Blue State Divide
Washington Post: In leaked memo, Facebook tells managers low performers don't belong
Politico.eu: Europe faces Facebook blackout
Everything in Moderation: Sahar Massachi on co-creating a community of integrity professionals from scratch
The Markup: Why Privacy Matters
Social Media Lab: Russia-Ukraine Conflict Misinfo Research Portal
Memo98: Elections in Digital Times
Journal of Democracy: The Life of the Party
Council on Foreign Relations: Confronting Reality in Cyberspace Foreign Policy for a Fragmented Internet
Interesting Podcasts/TV Shows/Other Things I’m Liking
The Moveable Feast: Episode 1 - DC, Cape May, Rome
Land of Giants: “Facebook gets a Facelift”
Twitch: Senior Manager: Trust and Safety Content Policy
Ofcom (UK): Online Safety Policy Principal
Protect Democracy: Technology Policy Advocate
Topics to keep an eye on that have a general timeframe of the first half of the year:
Facebook 2020 election research
Oversight Board opinion on cross-check
Senate & House hearings, markups, and potential votes
August: Angola elections
August 2 - Arizona and Missouri Primaries (AZ Kelly defending Senate seat, MO open Senate race)
August 9 - Wisconsin Primary (Ron Johnson defending Senate seat)
August 9 - Kenya elections
September 11 - Sweden elections
September 13 - New Hampshire Primary (Hassan defending Senate seat)
September 13 - 27: UN General Assembly
Sept 20 - High-level general debate begins
September 28 - 30: Athens Democracy Forum
October 2 and 30 - Brazil
November 8 - United States Midterms
Events to keep an eye on but nothing scheduled:
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