414. Corporate Refugee Knew It Was Time to Go
He was in the hyper-driven financial world of the 1980s, in its heyday, with a powerful mentor who demanded his best. He loved it. But the day came when Doug knew it was time to go. An uncertain world of high risk and potentially great reward lay before him.
Doug Heikkinen is the co-founder and publisher of IRIS.xyz. He has more than 25 years of experience as a marketing and communications professional serving the financial sector and others. He is a defector from the corporate world, taking with him a thorough understanding of the mindset of capital business. He co-led two successful start-ups in 2004 and 2008—M Financial Wealth Management and Filigree Advisors — and in 2009 he successfully ran a Northwest brand/design agency. Prior to that he spent 13 years at Schwab Advisor Services, where he was instrumental in all aspects of the area’s growth and maturity.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
Born in the small city of Adrian, Michigan, to the son of the superintendent of schools, Doug views his growing up years as a time of “planting the seeds of what I would later become.” In high school, he didn’t have a clear idea of his career direction, so he focused on gaining experiences. His years at the University of Michigan were, “A period of release and the freedom to grow, and figure out who I wanted to become. I took courses in things like communication, writing and psychology. I was also an athlete who participated year-round in track and cross-country. My education was more well-rounded than it was specific.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
After years of diverse and adventurous corporate work—which included tending and training Alaskan Malamutes with a dogsled racer across Upstate New York, northern Minnesota and Canada—Doug savored the intensity of the financial world in the 1980s with a high-powered, demanding mentor at Schwab Advisor Services. “It was the equivalent of earning an on-the-job MBA,” he recalls. But after 13 years, changes in the firm, and in himself, he knew the time had come for him to move on. “That became my entrée into entrepreneurship.”
“As you decide if entrepreneurship is for you, ask yourself: ‘Are you really in?’ Once you decide you’re in, the entrepreneurial world sucks you in. Then, when you look back at people who are still in the corporate world, and you visit them, you just don’t think you can go back! Because of the freedom, the excitement of doing what you want to do, doing what you love, you realize it would be really hard to go back into the corporate world.”
Steps to Success from Doug Heikkinen
- Decide what is important to you in your life. Do you want “stuff,” or do you want experiences?
- Set realistic goals and count the costs.
- Develop a strong support system, especially if you are an entrepreneur.
- Decide what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals.
Connecting With Doug Heikkinen
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