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Lost Marbles, World Travel, and Boiling Frogs

Mike Caracalas Texas Leadership Coach

Friends, family, and colleagues: It gives me great pleasure to share with you a major career and life change that I will be undertaking. Some of you may finish reading this new blog of mine thinking I’ve lost my marbles. Some of you may finish it thinking it sounds like a great dream, but poor Mike is naively taking himself and his family into financial ruin. Still more of you may be thinking well, it’s about time! But my greatest wish is that ultimately you join me in my belief that I can do this, that it’s worth the risk, and that you will find yourself pulling for me in the end. For while I have mostly gotten past the hesitation and self-doubt that often accompany a move such as this (or, at least stopped letting it prevent me from acting), I still greatly welcome the support and encouragement of my friends and family. So, what the hell am I talking about?

I have decided to leave the “comfortable” world of Corporate America and embark upon an entrepreneurial career working for myself.  I have lots of ideas for what may constitute that career in the coming years, but the immediate move is to go into business with my parents running Caracalas Travel. My parents started Caracalas Travel about 15 years ago, when they retired from their full-time careers, and have steadily built a nice little business. It’s not enough to sustain my family and me today, but it certainly has the potential. We’ve been talking about it for the last few years, and for the past 6 months we’ve been focused on building a plan to take the business to another level with my involvement. I couldn’t be more excited, but admittedly, it’s still pretty scary. So if Corporate America is “comfortable” and this move is “scary,” why in the world am I doing it? (recall my first comment about you thinking I’ve lost my marbles).

The answer is that “comfortable” belies a more complex reality. For the past 17 years I have built a very successful corporate career, including executive positions in two different industries. “Comfortable” refers to the fat paycheck that automatically appears in my bank account every 2 weeks. Of course, it doesn’t appear without reason. It continues to appear because I meet the expectations of the corporation writing the check; but for the last several years it’s become increasingly clear to me that I do not always want to, or simply cannot meet those expectations. I’m a proud person with an active ego (or else I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did), so it’s not easy to accept that I can’t meet those expectations. I realize now that it’s not a matter of talent, or intelligence, but rather, a matter of being motivated by common values. If my fundamental values don’t match the true values of the company (not the ones on the wall), it’s very difficult to maintain motivation. Early in my career, it was easy to avoid that issue, probably because the motivation came from many sources which I could find in the corporate world, and maybe our values were closer together back then. As I’ve moved up in Corporate America, becoming wiser with years, those motivations are fewer and less pronounced. To be sure, I could probably find the right corporate position to match my values and motivations, and I may very well go back and do that someday. But right now, after months (years, really) of soul searching, I am ready to take the plunge to pursue my dream and passion of building something of my own. You probably all know the fate of the frog that starts out in a comfortable pan of water as it is slowly heating up. Unlike the frog, I am jumping before I boil to death.

I look forward to re-connecting with many of you in the weeks and months to come. Leave a comment below. Share this with any of our mutual friends and colleagues that might be interested. And stay tuned for more to come.

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  1. Terry Caracalas on February 1, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I’m happy that you are jumping out of the hot water before it boils. It’s the right time.
    I’m proud of you. Mom and I will do everything we can to help you and support you.
    I love you’

  2. Jim Roessler on February 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Hi, Mike…good for you…I wish you all the best….I have been talking with your mom about a trip in early Nov. …so, you may be involved with my vacation plans by then. Joyce and I are getting to the time when we will be traveling more and might use Caracalas travel on a regular basis. I remember you to be a creative, energetic, and capable person. I suspect you will do well in the travel biz…..blessings and joy, Jim

    • mikecaracalas on February 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Thank you Jim! It’s great to hear from you again and I appreciate your kind words. I look forward to connecting again more in the future.

  3. Christy Confetti Higgins on February 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Mike – I am so proud of you – you are a risk taker and that takes great courage and character – good for you! Now….where are we all going? Miss you all and we are here to help support you in anyway we can 🙂

    Hugs –


    • mikecaracalas on February 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks Christy! I’ll be calling on you for your master web expertise!

      • mikecaracalas on February 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm

        p.s., I don’t know where we’re going, but I know it will be warm and exotic.

  4. Annette Hays on February 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    How exciting for you! The happier you are the more success you will have. I’m subscribing to your blog so you can book all my travel adventures in the future 🙂

    • mikecaracalas on February 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      Thanks Annette! I’ll remember what you said about booking your future adventures!

  5. Michael Liddy on February 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I, on the contrary, think you have found your marbles! Corporate America is… well, infuriating to one becoming wiser and more experienced as I see it. I experience that myself almost every day and look to one day follow you in a similar venture! Best of luck…


  6. Dave Neumann on February 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Hey Mike, congratulations! Believe me, there are many others who remain in their “comfortable” corporate role…too scared to make the move you are making. Yet those others are being eaten up inside by a misalignment of values or the pain of living under leaders who don’t walk the talk. Having the courage to actually do something about it is both rare and admirable!

    I know you will be wildly successful given your creativity, energy and positive spirit. And I will definitely keep you in mind for our personal travel plans. All the best.

    • mikecaracalas on February 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

      Thank you Dave! You are someone I’ve learned a lot from and it means a lot to me to hear your encouragement!

  7. sheila couch on February 6, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Good for you! I will keep you in the front of my mind when it comes to planning my next vacation…..tour around Greek Islands….

    All the best for success and happiness,

  8. Mark Leonardi on February 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Mike…you are a leader with tremendous heart and it’s inspiring to see you follow your heart. Wishing you all the best as I’ve enjoyed working with you. You have helped so many be successful with your coaching and support. Know that you have many people who care for you and wish you all the best. I am certainly one of them! Have fun and enjoy your “new” career! I’ll keep you in mind for our future travel plans.


    • mikecaracalas on February 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

      Hey Mark! It was great working with you and I look forward to staying in touch.

  9. Mike Bugaj on February 11, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Mike… I love it, make the most if the moment and chase the potential, I completely believe you will be successful. Mike Bugaj

  10. Tom Crabtree on February 19, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Mike….although our time together within within YUM! Brands was brief I knew from my first interaction with you in HR College that you are a talented and gifted Leader. Aligning individual, personal, and family values to a job as well as any large organization is difficult and rare indeed when you truly find a balance. As you begin your next chapter in life I know you will find great success as you possess a plethora of talents and qualities that will serve you well as you build your own “dynasty”. Stay in touch and most importantly stay focused on those guiding values as you blaze a new trail of success on this next leg of your career journey.

    All the Best,

    Tom Crabtree

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