minding our business

Actually, Quitting Can Be a Very Good Choice

Illustration: Kagan McLeod

Minding Our Business: A series on what it takes to work for yourself.

Quitting is still in, baby. Over the last few years, people have resigned in great fashion and by the millions; others have “quiet quit”; and some attempted to quit only to be told they’d be doing no such thing (à la Elon Musk).

For some, quitting feels like an unraveling — a decision made when you’re at your wits’ end — and a leap into the unknown. But for others, like Lauren Kleinman, quitting is nothing more than a pivot.

Kleinman was on the founding team for Ritual, the New Age multivitamin company that cemented itself as the go-to supplement for social-media darlings, serving as the brand’s vice president of marketing. She had all the makings of what success often looks like: a steady income and a lofty position at a thriving company with a strong public interest. For nearly three and a half years, Kleinman worked to successfully bolster Ritual’s public persona until one day, during a routine weekly meeting, she thought to herself, This is the last Monday meeting I’m going to go to.

Having just had a baby, Kleinman had begun to reevaluate the trajectory of her career and came to the conclusion she was simply done. “I had hit this point; everything I needed to do at the company had been done,” she says. She left her secure, cushy job with nary a concrete plan in sight but with the hope to launch something she could call her own. The 33-year-old had always been an entrepreneur. Around age 11, during the peak Tamagotchi craze, Kleinman ( with some help from her uncle) sold “bagfuls of Tamagotchis” to her classmates, printing her own business cards and all. Now, as an adult, she wanted that same energy back.

Soon after her departure from Ritual, Kleinman began working on and founded what is now Dreamday, a performance-marketing PR agency that today boasts such clients as Fly by Jing, Brightland, and Bearaby. “The name Dreamday actually came from a pretty cheesy reason,” she says. “Where I had this idea of every day, I’m going to create my dream day. What would that look like?” Looks like she figured it out.

Thinking about turning up the sound on your own quiet quitting? Well, since quitting clearly paid off for Kleinman (who is also the co-founder of The Quality Edit), we’ve asked her to recount all the steps (and missteps) she took to make the pivot worthwhile. Apologies in advance to your current boss!

Trust Your Gut

“The main thing that stood out to me in leaving was my gut. Life is very short — I was in a traumatic car crash when I was 13 and almost died. Life is so precious, and you should feel inspired by the work you’re doing. You should feel proud at the end of the night about how you spend your time. Life is too short for anything other than that. Whenever there’s that clash internally of I don’t want to be doing this. I don’t want to be in this space, I just really am motivated to make a change. I rely on my gut a lot, even when it comes to hiring. I’ve also definitely applied my gut to a lot of business decisions. I was just talking to someone else taking on new clients, and they mentioned a client owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars and never paid them. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, I turned that client down because I got a weird feeling.’”

Act Fast

“After you leave a company, momentum is almost on your side. If you wait too long, that momentum can kind of die down a bit. I applied urgency because I didn’t want to have no income. In about a month, I figured out what I needed to get a website going and how to set up my LLC. I tried to figure out quickly what I wanted to offer and what was really resonating. I spoke to a lot of people in that first month. I must have had at least three phone calls a day with people who I had known at Ritual and other founders who I knew. Just get out of your own head and figure out the tactical steps that need to get done to get you from point A to point B. For me, that was writing out my pitch, delivering the pitch to a bunch of people, and seeing if it was well received. It’s not going to be perfect from the beginning, but every step helps propel you further in the right direction.”

Beware of Burnout

“What I learned very quickly was when you become your own boss, you work 100 times harder than you ever thought you’d work. I didn’t have one minute to breathe and I’d forget to go pee sometimes and I didn’t eat lunch. So I kind of burned out a year ago. I started dealing with really bad anxiety and insomnia, and it was the darkest period of my life. Now I’ve started to find better balance and keep going back to the mission of that dream day, and what that should look like and trying to better manage my time.

I’ve gone through this whole journey of leaving my company, becoming really successful with my business, being my own boss, and then having that kind of take over my life in a negative way where I just have no sense of work-life balance. To resolve it, I did so many things. I started with the basics, like seeing my therapist once a week (luckily she’s covered under insurance). I started moving my body more and doing strength training, which was a huge unlock for me. Then I did a million other things related to sleep and anxiety, like trying to hit 10,000 steps a day and really watching my diet. I am on a whole protocol for healthier sleep. No screen time two hours before bed and replacing that with reading physical books. I’m also just not going back to trying to do it all.”

Crack Open Your LinkedIn

“Really scour your network, not only for the jobs that you’re looking for but other potential connectors that can get you on the right path, or getting advisers that can help guide you. (I have a pretty broad network, so luckily I could draw on a lot of those relationships to help me figure out how to get everything off the ground.) Having coffee with people sometimes, just meeting people, you never know where the conversation will lead. They may know someone who knows someone somewhere who can help you get to where you want to go. I’m a big connection person and rely a lot on my relationships, and I think being resourceful in that way and using my connections has helped me along the way and has been, hands down, the most invaluable thing that’s helped me in my career.”

Pay It Forward

“I had one friend who told me, ‘You can do this. I know you can do this. I know you’re amazing at what you do.’ That nudge really helped me, and so now, when women come to me and they’re like, ‘I’m thinking about starting my own business,’ I listen to them and I try to give smart advice, but most of the time, I really try to do the same and nudge people in that direction too. If you have the itch or feel like it’s something you have to try, even if it doesn’t end up working out, I think that it’s such an amazing experience for anyone to become an entrepreneur and to know what it is to be your own boss.”

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Actually, Quitting Can Be a Very Good Choice