Since last posting, I feel really good about how smoothly the transition has gone at work. Sami started with the Anchorage Chamber on Feb. 17, and we have been busy in meetings, conversing over how-to’s and best practices. I could not have asked for a better replacement. I feel very comfortable knowing things back here at home are not only going to be well taken care of but also that she is well poised to help lead the organization to the next level.

I have spent the majority of “free time” during the past couple of weeks meeting with friends and mentors, garnering advice about how to best approach the next job opportunity, asking tough questions about my own strengths and weaknesses. It reminds me how wonderful a place Anchorage truly is…people here have been so incredibly supportive throughout my entire career. Sometimes we get so caught up in just doing everything we have to do that we forget those resources are out there or we don’t make time for them. I don’t want to name names in this setting but to all of you who have given me your time, whether it is five minutes or two hours, especially in the past few weeks, you know who you are — thank you. If I can ever repay the favor, I hope you will ask.

As for what I want to do next, there are a lot of things that interest me and that will capture my attention. More than anything, I am looking for the next big challenge and I’m open as to whether that is in or outside of Alaska. A little over a year ago, I stumbled across a Fortune magazine article featuring Melinda Gates. I was inspired by her humble background and the impact that she and Bill are making in the world. I have said to some friends and colleagues that my next position will be in the private sector. There are few exceptions, and the Gates Foundation is certainly one. The organization was recently in the news when Bill got on stage at the famed 2009 TED technology conference and opened a jar of mosquitoes, joking there’s no reason why only poor people should get malaria…and noting that there is more money put into cures for baldness than addressing the disease.

Like Bill, I consider myself an optimist. I very much enjoy problem solving, and strategy development. I love to develop messages and the science of influencing how people may think about a given topic or problem. Leadership seems to come naturally and I have found no greater joy at work than overcoming a challenge as a team.

I do board the plane Wednesday for Scotland and will enjoy taking the next two-plus months off to focus a bit more on what are my strengths and weaknesses, and how and where I can best contribute my time and energy in the next job. I am interested in hearing from you about how you’ve approached similar questions in your own life and any advice you might have for the trip.

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