"Accidental Caregiver," Author, Speaker, (Founder)
For 25 years, Ellen worked as a marketing executive at various high-tech companies-both well-established firms and start-ups. During this time, she had five children and always returned to work right after maternity leave. She never took a break. She was highly motivated, highly successful, well regarded, and very fortunate with this career. She then branched out on her own; she started her own business in her hometown, had two partners, and things were humming along. But one year into this new venture, her son Ned had a terrible car accident which left him paralyzed and with a brain injury. He was 22. Ellen was terrified and devastated for her son. As for her marketing career she says, "I tried to keep the business going, but I couldn't. It was a sad day when I determined I had to give it up, but honestly, I don't know what I was thinking. It was too much."
"I found myself in this unbelievable situation and I had to dig deep. This was an enormous emotional blow, and a financial blow, not to mention the impact on my other kids."
Nearly overnight, Ellen became, in her words, an "accidental caregiver." After almost a year at various hospitals, her son came home to live-along with nurses, equipment, unknowns and emotions, and many, many costs. Not long after, a very unique sort of helper came to live with him: a trained service animal for the disabled named Kasey, a capuchin monkey.
As a single mom, Ellen needed to find a way to finance these new needs. In a light bulb moment, she decided she would write a book about their story and Kasey would play a major role. Though she knew little about publishing and had only ever written marketing materials, she says, "I just knew it would work. I never doubted it. It was absolute." Through an online literary agency site, she found 24 agents interested in animal stories and sent out queries. Within two hours she had heard from nine agents and found her one. "Susan was very passionate about the story and I just knew she understood what I wanted to do." Three weeks later, they signed with Hyperion for a substantial advance. Kasey to the Rescue: The Remarkable Story of a Monkey and a Miracle was on its way to hitting the press in Fall 2010. In the weeks since, Ellen has been actively networking to increase the book's national coverage and to transform herself yet again as a motivational speaker.
Since leaving her marketing career, Ellen has reinvented herself as a caregiver, a stay-at-home mom, and an author. As she sees the keys to her role now, "It's about being able to create opportunity. To do more with less. To be resourceful. To be excellent at problem solving. To overcome the ‘no' word. To overcome objection and adversity. These are the same things that companies do in an economic downtime. And in a funny way, all those years ago in marketing, I was doing the same thing."
Background: Marketing, Non-Profit and Social Enterprise Industry
Pre-Break: Marketing Consultant
Relaunch Connection: Friend of iRelaunch