Amber Rae: Creative Catalyst

27 Apr

My first Sunday afternoon in New York, I left my friend’s dorm in Brooklyn and navigated the subway system to arrive at my first meeting. It was pretty thrilling to join in the hustle and bustle of NYC residents and tourists to make it to our various destinations, mine of which happened to be the apartment of my first interviewee, Amber Rae. She greeted me at the door with a friendly smile and prepared a pot of wonderful tea as we sat down on her couch to talk. Amber, like Anna Wohlesser, has created her own job/life title: she is a Creative Catalyst and a Starter of Meaningful Things. I had stumbled across her blog (Hey Amber Rae) through the web of connections I follow on Twitter, and was instantly impressed by her work, message, and story.

Raised by an entrepreneurial mother, Amber knew from a young age that following what everyone else was doing, although “safe,” was not necessarily the “right”  or only option. She also started using the computer when she was 5 years old, and was instantly hooked. “I realized from a very young age what the Internet allowed and who it enabled me to connect with,” she reflects, “I saw a lot of possibility.” She started a candy business when she was a young and at 12 she started an online magazine to empower young girls. The magazine ended up having over 5,000 subscribers! This passion of hers didn’t come without resistance. She remembers how her stepdad used to get upset over her use of the computer and didn’t see how it would benefit her in the long term. “It didn’t bother me and I was just like, ‘I know what I’m doing and I think I’m smarter than you sometimes,’” she laughs.

She attended Miami University in Ohio and, after seeing a disconnection between the business school and communication school, ended up designing her own major. However, a lot of what she did outside of academics at college impacted her path and distinguished herself and her talents. She was hired by Apple to be a Campus Rep for her school, most likely due to what she describes as the “unconventional” responses she provided on the job application. Although she notes that she did have several wonderful classes and professors that really benefited her, “I knew, without question, that when I joined Apple that this would be probably a better experience than some of my classes.” Described by friends as having an “infectious personality” she must have done something right because, “our school ended up ranking third in sales among all universities.” 

 After college, she joined a marketing firm in Chicago and did work for big companies like Frito-Lay and Dove. But she started to feel a need for change from the corporate world, and felt a certain lack of depth and passion both in her work and relationships with people. Around this time she had started her blog, and had attracted a following. She ended up tweeting that she felt like moving to San Francisco, and a follower jumped to offer her a position at a tech start-up in the Bay Area. Essentially, she was recruited off Twitter (it looks like the stepdad shouldn’t have been too concerned over her time spent online after all!) 

Now based in New York, Amber has come a long way by trusting her gut, following her passions, and dreaming up initiatives that are needed in our world. She started a co-working group, New York Nightowls that has spread to over 25 other countries. She is working with Seth Godin (another amazing person) as Chief Evangelist of the Domino Project, to re-invent publishing. And her latest project (which is launching soon) is Revolution.is, where she curates weekly inspiring stories of people trusting their gut and following their passions. To learn more about her story and work, visit her meet me page, and watch her recent TEDx talk below. 

When I asked her what advice she would give to potential Eduventurists who feel stuck in a situation or system  they are not satisfied with, she said the following: “Take 15 minutes to write about what makes you feel alive and what gets you excited. Then, come up with one action that you can take to live this in your life. If it scares you, you’re probably on the right track. Now set a deadline with yourself and go get started!

Amber is doing what she loves, and inspires others to do the same. She sees possibilities and uses her intuition and creativity to start projects that will positively change and shape the world around us. As she says, “the world is defined by reason but shaped by being unreasonable.” I took that message to heart, and when I left her apartment, I felt elated and inspired. As cheesy as it sounds, as I walked down the streets of the big city, thinking about my own path and the possibilities for following my own passions, I felt so content 🙂

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