Skills and Talents of Pianist Make for Great Perfumer

So many of us grew up thinking that you need to have specific skills and talents to enter a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.) That unless you are a nerd with a highly analytical and logical mind, you couldn’t enter the field. Today we interview a mother and daughter who prove our assumption wrong.

For the past 24 years, Judith (Jude) Hollingshead has developed perfumes for Olay, Pantene, Herbal Essence, Fabreze, Pampers and other P&G brands. Mind you, there are only around a thousand perfumers in the world.

Judith Hollingshead had the skills and talents of a pianist. She ended up studying Chemistry and entering a career as a perfumer.

Judith Hollingshead had the skills and talents of a pianist. She ended up studying Chemistry and entering a career as a perfumer.

When I first met her I was curious about what skills and talents are required to be a perfumer and how does someone even decide to become one. The answer surprised me and I wanted to share it with you. See, Jude is not the stereotypical nerd most of us imagine would choose chemistry as a career plan. She was a piano player who studied Chemistry and became a perfumer. And most of it happened because someone saw skills and talents in her that she didn’t yet see.

Because she was always curious and willing to try new things she explored the possibilities presented by others and has had an incredibly successful career as a result. Along the way she has raised, as a single mother, two children. Her daughter Shealyn, a very artistic child, is now finishing her sophomore year as a student of Chemical Engineering at Ohio University – Russ School of Engineering. We talk to both of them about their unusual experience.

Skills and talents required for the job

MD- You are currently a perfumer at P&G. What skills and talents does your job require?

Judith Hollingshead in the P&G lab

Judith Hollingshead in the P&G lab

JH- Perfumery is a blend of Art and Science. A perfume is made up of a blend of

100’s of individual ingredients. A perfumer needs to understand how the ingredients’ smell and how they blend together to form specific odor. For example, an orange is made of materials XYZ, and an Apple is made up of materials ABYZ. A perfumist needs to understand how all the 1000’s of materials smell and how to combine them to achieve a specific and pleasant odor.

So the skill necessary to become a perfumist is, first and foremost, an excellent sense of smell. Another skill that is a close second in importance is the joy of smelling, and desire to constantly want to push out on the boundaries of what is possible. Most perfumers are never satisfied with the perfumes they make, they are constantly working on making them better.

MD- Did you grow up wanting to be a perfumer?

JH- I grew up in the Midwest in the USA. I had a very traditional family. My mother was a stay at home mom who managed the family and my father was a banker

Some of the most important skills and talents Judith Hollingshead transferred from being a talented pianist into chemistry were her perseverance and drive to achieve perfection in her work.

Some of the most important skills and talents Judith Hollingshead transferred from being a talented pianist into chemistry were her perseverance and drive to achieve perfection in her work.

with a 9-5 job. I was not even aware that the career of perfumer was a possibility. In fact, I grew up not even thinking about having a “career” because I did not have very many role model females in my life for this. Throughout my childhood I studied piano, and as I got into my teen years I began to think about what I would do for the rest of my life. Since piano was such an integral part of my life it made sense that continuing to study music, specifically as a performance major in college, would be my course of action. And I pursued that thru about my senior year in High school. It was that year, that my High School Chemistry/ Physics teacher approached me to discuss my high aptitude for Chemistry, Math and Physic. And encouraged me to investigate this as career and major in College.

I am always up to trying new ideas so I began to investigate this direction as an alternative. I found the world of science that year and while I still play piano today and love classical music, I have never regretted becoming a scientist/Perfumer!

We can help you explore your interests and passions at any level of your career! Sign up for our Step Up Program!

MD- Which of the skills and talents needed to be a concert pianist could you transfer to a career in Chemistry?

JH- The most important skill that transfers from music performance to chemistry/perfumery is hard work, tenacity and the pursuit of perfection

As a performer you must work hard and practice constantly to get a piece to perfection. This is the same for perfume experiments. We are constantly reworking the blend of ingredients to make the perfume the most perfect execution of the idea that we have in our head.

Both represent a sensorial experience. A piano performance is an auditory sensory experience and a perfume is an olfactive sensory experience. And both should give the receiver of the experience a sense of pleasure and enjoyment.

Sometimes people see in you things you still don't. The interviewer at P&G saw in Judith's extra curricular activities something they were looking for. A creative person with a hard science background.

Sometimes people see in you things you still don’t. The interviewer at P&G saw in Judith’s extra curricular activities something they were looking for. A creative person with a hard science background.

MD- What exactly did you think you’d do in this field?

JH- My high school teacher was a huge influence to help me understand I had an aptitude for the hard sciences and the job opportunities that were available.

I realized that while I could always have music with me, that science was a new pursuit I would have to learn.

In college, I fully immersed myself into my science studies, I was not sure what I wanted to do, but as I went to Graduate school to pursue my doctorate, I started working in the area of superconductors and semi –conductors. This was an emerging area, and I loved the research.

It was only after I finished graduate school and started to investigate potential companies that the idea of becoming a perfumer became an option.

Definition of perfumer

Definition of perfumer

As part of the job placement services at Iowa State University, our resumes are posted for recruiting companies to review and request interviews.   Procter and Gamble chose me to interview. I had no intention of seriously considering working for P&G because they did not do work research in the area I had focused on in my studies. I was frankly surprised that they even wanted to interview me.

The interview took a strange turn as the interviewer did not ask me about my research or my work in chemistry, as was the case with all my other interviews. He continually probed me on the hobbies I listed on my resume: playing piano and needlework.

I finally asked him about this and he told me that P&G was interested in someone with a strong scientific background and with a strong interest, skills and talent in artistic, creative endeavors. He explained the job of perfumers, and I was immediately intrigued by the idea of being able to use both my creative, artistic side and my technical work. I loved the idea so much I took the chance and shifted my career to perfumery.

Here's a post about an orthopedic surgeon "I find my passion in the most unexpected places."

Like mother like daughter

MD- Shealyn, you are finishing your sophomore year in college. You’re studying Chemical Engineering but you also have the skills and talent to follow an artistic career. What made you decide to give engineering a shot?

Shealyn Holligshead

Shealyn Holligshead

SH- My mom was very persistent in showing me that I would exceed in my academic endeavors as a woman in STEM even though she knew I would be successful in the art field. What really persuaded me to turn my attention to STEM was that she showed me a Ted Talk by Debbie Sterling about a woman in the engineering field. This Ted Talk was about how Debbie created a children’s toy for young girls that will inspire them to build and create like most boy toys that are currently sold today. Her point was that most girl toys, like Barbie’s, teach girls at a young age to focus on building relationships not physical things.

Deb’s talk discussed her struggle to get through school as a woman in STEM, and then on getting her toy design to the market. This Ted Talk really caught my attention, and I decided that I should give STEM a shot because I have the creative ability to innovate. I just needed to apply this ability to a more advanced curriculum to create/innovate more practical inventions that I believe can have a larger impact on the world.

MD- Jude, what are some of the aspects of your career that you love the most?

JH- In my job I get to develop a perfume that is used by millions of consumers. I consider myself very lucky to be able to touch peoples live and make them more enjoyable. I love the ability to work on perfume design for our products. A tremendous amount of effort goes into making sure the right perfume gets combined with the right product at P&G. In addition to that, in other parts of my job, I get to also work on technical upstream research this allows me to use my technical scientific talents. I have the best of both worlds.

Skills and talents needed to enter a career in STEM

MD- From your own individual experiences, what recommendations do you have for young women and their mothers regarding careers in STEM? Do people need to have a specific set of skills and talents or should a wider range of women give careers in STEM a try?

JH- Having a career in the STEM field can be exceptionally rewarding and I believe we need more women to bring their viewpoints to the problems of today. So many women are brought up to believe that they are nurturing, caring or creative and that this is the direct opposite of STEM. It is a misconception that STEM careers require highly logical and analytical mindsets. In reality, we need MORE highly Creative people to be trained in STEM to develop new Inventions and solve today’s problems in NEW and CREATIVE ways.

If you have creative skills and talents you (or your child) may find great satisfaction in a STEM career. Make sure to explore the possibilities!

If you have creative skills and talents you (or your child) may find great satisfaction in a STEM career. Make sure to explore the possibilities!

Another post on finding your passion with your nose you'll love.

SH- When I talk to young women who are considering going into the STEM field, the first thing they ask is, “how hard is the schooling and the work?” It took me aback the first few times I heard this because I never considered this when I chose Chemical Engineering. Maybe this was because my mom is a woman in STEM and my whole life I saw how possible it was to succeed in this field. I never considered the difficulty. But being asked this many times has given me the chance to really consider how to answer this question. It has led me to my most common recommendation for young women:

Whatever you choose to do for your education and/or work life is going to be difficult whether it is STEM or not. It is going to take a lot of work and effort to be successful in any field you choose. So, if you are interested in STEM fields, go for it!

My experience has been that every class I have taken has been nothing but foreign and intimidating to me. The only way to get through it is to just apply yourself and do the work. Eventually, it won’t be so foreign and intimidating. After working thru a class for 15 weeks, by the end, you will be close to mastering the material if you put in the work. I strongly believe that a wider range of women should give STEM a try, especially if you have any interest in science, math or technology.

I would never recommend it, however, to someone who has no interest in these topics.


You can connect with Jude Hollingshead via email at or on Linkedin: Judith Hollingshead.

She shares her artistic endeavors (weaving, sewing quilts, knitting and other lace making techniques) on her Instagram: Judeh22

You can reach Shealyn Hollingshead at: or on Linkedin under Shealyn Hollingshead.


I find my passion in the most unexpected places

The story of a woman surgeon, woodworker & sailor

“I’m an orthopedic surgeon. I like building furniture and sailing. All fields usually dominated by men. I find my passion has never been limited by my gender. I’ve never looked at anything through that lens, until I noticed that others did.”

Dr. Margareta Berg was born in Gothenburg, Sweden where she also went to the University Medical School and obtained her MD in orthopedic surgery and a PhD degree. She has dedicated her life to her passions, which frequently found her in a male-dominated field. Her latest project is her biggest challenge yet and it could save many lives. This could be the story that changes your view on what you can do!

Dr. Margareta Berg, Swedish orthopedic surgeon who works part of her time in Laponia, an area of Sweden close to the Arctic Circle.

Dr. Margareta Berg, Swedish orthopedic surgeon who works part of her time in Laponia, an area of Sweden close to the Arctic Circle.

Read more about how to find your passion here.

When we first met, you told me, “An equal opportunity household helped me find my passion.” Could you expand?

When I grew up there was no difference between male and female chores at home. I still don’t know if this was a conscious choice made by my parents, or just a sign of their true nature. My elder brother liked cooking and baking at a very early age, and as a 7-year old I thrived in my father’s simple woodworking studio. One of my favorite hobbies was to carve wood with a very sharp knife, most often holding the piece against my stomach and directing the knife towards my own abdomen. Nobody would have guessed that these early exercises helped me find my passion for orthopedic surgery.

"I find my passion in many things: making furniture is one of them," Dr. Margareta Berg

“I find my passion in many things: making furniture is one of them,” Dr. Margareta Berg

In elementary school in the 1960s we had to choose between sewing or woodworking. As I had sewn my own slacks since I was ten and I liked carpentry, I chose woodworking. I was the only girl out of a thousand students in the class. Of course I was bullied for this choice, even by some woodworking teachers. But I didn’t care, and continued to find my passion in unusual places. I don’t know where this stubborness and strong-will came from. Maybe it was a combination of genes inhereted from my ancestors. I come from powerful men in the iron and steel production and I’m distantly related to the prominent Wallenberg family with ties in most industrial groups in Sweden.

When you were 14 years old you wanted to be a psychiatrist and as you graduated high school with top grades you were able to enter Med school right away. Then, after your “surgery semester” (or rotation) you changed your mind. How did you find your passion for orthopedics?

When the surgery-semester started, students were placed as medical candidates at different surgical wards. It started with three weeks in orthopedic surgery in August 1979. The very first day, not knowing how to scrub or how to behave in an operating room, our supervisor pointed at a friend and me and said, “Our first case is a hip replacement and you will be my first and second assistants.” We were both thrown into the OR and did as we were told. Now, remember that back in 1979 a hip replacement was a much longer procedure and not the kind of “assembly line” we know today. During those few weeks we assisted in all kinds of orthopedic surgery, even in children.

"I find my passion in orthopedic surgery after my rotation in orthopedics. I entered Med school to be a psychiatrist." Dr. Margareta Berg, founder of Surgicon Foundation

“I find my passion in orthopedic surgery after my rotation in orthopedics. I entered Med school to be a psychiatrist.” Dr. Margareta Berg, founder of Surgicon Foundation

After my three weeks rotation in orthopedics I did find my passion. So I changed my mind. I wouldn’t be a psychiatrist but an orthopedic surgeon.

Did you realize you were entering a male dominated field?

There was not a second of hesitation or any thoughts whatsoever about this profession being a “male” or “female” occupation. I just wanted to do something I liked, instead of spending my lifetime in a specialty with better working hours but for which I had no passion.

Dr. Margareta Berg, Founder Surgicon Foundation

Dr. Margareta Berg

The first time I realized that just being a female resident in orthopedic surgery was a provocation, was at age 30. It felt like I was being interviewed nearly every day at work when people asked me:

“How do you feel about being a woman in orthopedic surgery?” To which I’d usually answer:

“Well, how should I know? I don’t know how it feels to be a man in orthopedic surgery.”

So from the very beginning I entered the field completely free of any preconceptions. I just did my job, as everybody else. It took me several years to understand that it was something special to be a woman in this profession. The gender question was thrown at me after I had already been in this field for a while. Why couldn’t I be left in my innocent, equal world? The truth is that if I had known this reality from the start, it would certainly have given me second thoughts about this specialty.

Laughter is always a great way to navigate an awkward situation.

Laughter is always a great way to navigate an awkward situation.

You might enjoy reading “Women mentors: A group of surgeons like no other

Were you treated differently because you were a woman?

I was bullied, almost every day. But this just helped me develop a very useful method to defend myself: A very rapid, sharp and efficient sense of humor. I did not want to raise my voice for fear of being seen as a bitch, and I did not want to cry (as I never do) showing a useless weakness. When things got awkward, making everyone burst out in laughter was the best way to handle the situation.

This film director is another powerful woman in a male-dominated field. Don't miss her story!

You worked hard and yet you found time to continue to find your passions elsewhere. Tell us about that.

I spent days and nights at work, just to learn, doing a lot more hours than expected. I would usually go home at 7 or 8 PM, had a rest, and then returned to work until midnight.

"I find my passion in sailing. The silence helps me rest and unwind," Dr. Margareta Berg, founder Surgicon Foundation

“I find my passion in sailing. The silence helps me rest and unwind,” Dr. Margareta Berg, founder Surgicon Foundation

But I also needed to unwind. So, faithful to my habits, I did this wholeheartedly. During Med School I had saved all my student loans for eleven semesters by working on weekends to support myself. In 1980 I made a large withdrawal and bought a 26 ft sailing boat. (I had been sailing with my family since I was a child.) It took a week of being all alone on the boat to get back to normal sleep and to feel well rested. As the boat had no engine I developed the technique of entering and leaving harbors and desert creeks by sail during ten years. To some people, this was a strange thing for a single woman do to. And I find my passion for woodwork is still alive today in my furniture-making.

You shared with me that through your career one of your ongoing concerns had been the standarization of practical surgical training. How did that become your latest project and passion?

Well, trying to continue to find my passion in surgery led me to something I had been observing for years.

By 2010 I had spent 30 years in orthopedics. I had observed the lack of structure in surgical training and also I had experienced the differences in quality of surgical training and the potentially harmful consequences of this differences. So I decided that we needed to do something about it. I contacted key colleagues in my own network of surgeons across the world and organized a two-day brainstorming meeting in September 2010 in Howth, Ireland. Along with a group of leaders in surgery we decided to create the Surgicon Project.

What exactly is the Surgicon project and why is does it matter so much to you?

Surgicon is a worldwide network of leaders in surgery with a common interest in Surgical Training and Equalized International Certificates of Surgical Skills. There is a high incidence of surgical errors that are a direct result of the lack of a structured surgical training. In general, across the world, a surgical resident is placed with an attending surgeon who functions as a mentor for 4 or 5 years. After that period he/she becomes a “specialist.” Yet there is a lack of standardized curriculum during this learning period and different attending surgeons teach different things to their residents. Consequently, many preventable mistakes take place and even lives are needlessly lost.

The Surgicon Foundation is a worldwide network of leaders in surgery with a common interest in Surgical Training and Equalized International Certificates of Surgical Skills.

The Surgicon Foundation is a worldwide network of leaders in surgery with a common interest in Surgical Training and Equalized International Certificates of Surgical Skills.

A 2008 Swedish retrospective study of medical records showed 105,000 injuries caused by hospital care in one year of which nearly 50% were related to surgery. Of the total number there were 3,000 deaths, all in a population of 9 million inhabitants. Each injury resulted in a prolonged hospitalization of an average of 6 days.

Surgicon held two congresses in 2011 and 2013. The delegates called them “The Davos for Surgeons” due to the high concentration of world surgical leaders in the same geographical spot for several days. In 2012 the non-profit Surgicon Foundation was created with the goal of creating the needed curriculum to standardize surgical training and drastically reduce preventable mistakes and deaths. In 2013 Surgicon was invited to collaborate with the World Health Organization.

What do you need to move this passion forward?

Everytime I find my passion, I invest all my efforts, time, energy and money into it. This is no different. I’ve spent the last five years working overtime just to organize these two major medical congresses and I’m now involved in fundraising to create the curriculum. We are looking for corporations, non-profit organizations, and governments interested in taking this project to the next level. It will highly benefit patients and their families around the world. And it will help drastically reduce medical costs.

You can connect with Dr. Margareta Berg via:

Twitter: @SurgiconProject




2 Insights to Be Happier at Work

Considering that only 13% of the world’s workforce feels engaged, chances are you could use a boost to be happier at work.

In 2013, a Gallup global survey revealed that with only 29% of engaged employees, North America was the region with the highest employee satisfaction. That means that over 70% of people spend at least 8 hours a day feeling unhappy! If you are one of them, wouldn’t you love to learn how to get excited about going to work?

Celebrating career success

Celebrating career success

Factors that contribute to a feeling of disengagement

According to the American Employee Study (and my own experience), there are several main reasons why you may not be happy at work:

  • Not feeling heard. You don’t have an opportunity to speak your mind or, when you do, no action is taken.
  • Having no sense of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Sensing that your bosses don’t know your career goals.
  • Not receiving training for your role.
  • Unfair compensation.
  • Not being recognized for your accomplishments.

How to get excited about going to work

If you checked off a few of the bullet points above, you’re not alone. Here are two amazingly simple things you can do to feel more engaged at work almost immediately.

  1. Align your career goals with your life purpose

Quite frequently, people have roles that don’t align with their life purpose, their interests or their passions. When this happens, it’s hard to stay engaged. Even when you receive a promotion, you don’t feel like putting in the effort for the higher position in an area of no interest to you. Say your passion is sales but you are in an administrative position. Even if they make you an executive administrator, you’re unlikely to feel more engaged.

You owe it to yourself to discover your interests and align them with your career goals

Look inside to figure out what interests you!

If you sense that this is the reason for your lack of engagement, take some time to find your passion, to figure out what your interests are, to discover what I call your inner red shoe/tie. That exploration may help you realize that you need a career track change, which may entail going back to school to get the right degree or certification.

Considering how much longer our productive life is, you can easily have several careers. Don’t let the lack of a degree stop you from feeling happier at work. There are tools out there, such as the Phoenix Career Guidance System, that can help you figure out what might be the perfect career track for you.

Once you have clarity around this, you’ll be better able to adjust your career path and, consequently, your daily work will be aligned with your interests.

  1. Take back control

There are times when you might feel you have very few options. For example, either you stay in a role that doesn’t fit your long-term goals, or you need to quit your job (something you can’t afford right now). This feeling of lack of control over your circumstances creates a lot of anxiety.

Not too long ago, a colleague of mine was about to resign from a job she loved after 10 wonderful years. She felt she had no other option. Why? A new boss had been hired to replace her admired retiring leader, and he wasn’t a good match for the position. He wasn’t interested in developing his team or in the initiatives they had been working on. He offered no recognition for a job well done.

Even when you think there are no options you can always make a decision to take back control

You can always make a different decision even when the options are limited.

Then my colleague decided that rather than accepting passively the new boss’s lack of leadership she would demonstrate her own leadership skills whenever she had the chance. She started organizing meetings with her team rather than expecting the boss to do so. She developed several new strategic partnerships for her company and became a mentor for a few junior colleagues. As a result, she re-engaged and was happy to go to work again.

So keep in mind that even in the face of limited options, you frequently have the ability to make a decision that enables you to take back control of your circumstances. As I mentioned above, that decision may involve furthering your education so that you are free to pursue a position where you are happier. It’s worth remembering that whenever you feel in control, you feel more engaged, and therefore more fulfilled at work.

You deserve to be happy. Explore your passions

There’s nothing like exploring what you love to be happier at work

Spending as much time as we do at work, we owe it to ourselves to be happy. Don’t let one more day go by without reviewing your situation and putting into practice these two suggestions. They will help you feel more engaged at work sooner than you think.


I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.




7 Ways to Find Your Passion

The idea that finding your passion is the best way to advance in your career is finally catching on. Here are 7 ways to find your passion that will bring home this often-elusive concept.

Maybe you’re just starting your professional career and keen on finding your passion and purpose. Maybe you are in your 40s or 50s and increasingly interested in finding your next passion because you know it’s the way to heightened engagement in your job. Regardless of how you arrived to this blog post, you’re obviously looking to add meaning to your life.

The only way to do great work is to do what you love - Steve Jobs Quote | Don't miss on the 7 Ways to Find Your Passion

Finding your passion and purpose is the only way to feel engaged at work

How do you find your passion and make it work?

This is a question I hear repeatedly during my conferences, webinars and coaching sessions. You will have to do some serious work to figure out what your passion is. There is no way around it. The good news is that there are fun ways to assist you in the process.

7 Ways to Find Your Passion With the Help of 7 Easy Questions

1. What did you like to do when you were 8-12 years old?

Wherever you are, be all there- Quote by Jim Elliot | Check out the 7 Ways to Find Your Passion

Being present is a big part of feeling fulfilled in life

Chances are that you still enjoy the same kinds of activities that you did when you were a kid. You have likely forgotten about them or you stopped practicing them because life got in the way.

I recently met a senior executive who is a scientist and a professional juggler. Yes, you read it correctly. I was thrilled to see a video of her and her husband at a juggling festival, enjoying themselves like little kids. So, ask yourself, what would you be doing if you had kept up some of your childhood interests?

Since I was 9 years old I created books from scratch. Cut the pages, stitched them together, designed the cover… Writing remains one of my biggest passions.

2. What are you doing when time seems to fly?

Whenever I’m writing, time flies. Two hours seem like ten minutes. What are you doing when this happens to you? The more specific you are when answering this question (what are you doing, where, with whom, and so on,) the easier it will be to find your passion.

3. If you could create an award that recognizes YOU, what would it be for?

Passion quote Martha Beck | 7 Ways to Find Your Passion

Through yourself all in. To find your passion you need to overcome your own objections.

Through yourself all in. To find your passion you need to overcome your own objections.

This will help you visualize what’s important to you. Every time I ask this question as part of a Red Shoe Movement event, the specificity of the answers blow my mind. I could publish an inspiring book about people’s passions just by compiling those statements. Write down what you’d like to be recognized for and see what comes up.

4. What topics do you gravitate towards?

What kinds of books do you love reading? What articles catch your attention? What topics have you set up on Google alerts? What movies can’t you miss?

Sometimes finding your next passion means you have to review your Pinterest board to realize that you’ve been collecting fashion-related pictures for years. When you dig a bit deeper, it becomes evident that you’ve had a passion for fashion since you sewed clothes for your Barbie dolls. You may have had a successful career in Advertising and are now ready for a 180 degree change to honor your newly re-discovered passion.

5. What is your tennis ball?

This question comes from a terrific blog on the topic of innovation. The author refers to a commencement speech given by Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox. He said: “The most successful people are obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball.” Houston suggested that you must “find your tennis ball — the thing that pulls you.”

You may be obsessed with teaching people how to reduce their environmental footprint. Or with correcting everyone’s grammar. Or with finding the perfect vacation for all your friends. These are all obsessions worth exploring as potential passions that can be turned into a career.

You may enjoy this post too: Finding your passion: the true door to success.

6. What if time or money were not a problem?

"What you know is this, if you do work that you love and the work fulfills you, the rest will come" Oprah Winfrey Quote. Discover the 7 Ways to Find Your Passion!

Yup! Focus on doing what you really love!

Time and money are two of the most common obstacles that get in the way of finding your passion and purpose. People who complain that they are unhappy at work and who even get sick as a result, are quick to say: “I can’t afford quitting my job.” Or “I don’t have the time to figure out my passion right now.”

So let’s take money and time off the table. Consider for a moment that they are not a problem. (After all, whenever you really, really want to buy something you find the money to do it, right? And when you really, really want to go some place, see someone, do something, you find the time to do that too.) What would you be doing if time and money weren’t a concern?

7. What would the three people who know you best identify as your passion?

Sometimes it can be hard to see in yourself what others see clearly. So why not ask them the question. Your siblings, your childhood friends, and the soul mates you met along the way are all great candidates to provide feedback. Make it an open-ended question with no right or wrong answers so they feel comfortable to say the most outrageous or unexpected things. If nothing else, they’ll get you thinking.

The obvious question after you find your passion is how to turn it into a career. Well, that’s the subject of a future article for this blog, my friend. But you have some work to do first. In the meantime, get some inspiration from this amazing woman who is the perfect example of how finding your passion changes everything!

Finding Your Passion: The True Door to Success

Nothing makes better company than a good storyteller. And there’s no better way to become one than finding your passion and purpose.

Let’s face it: One of the reasons why you may not be as successful in your career as you wish is because you may not have made finding your professional passion a priority. When you stop to think for a moment about what really intrigues you, what interests you, what engages you in a way that time dissolves between your fingers, what do you come up with? Are you involved with “that” (whatever it is) in your professional life? Or is what you do when you leave work?

Finding Your Passion is the true door to success

TSalon’s founder Miriam Novalle

Many people weren’t raised with a mindset that made finding your passion a priority. And in many areas of society and the world, women still aren’t encouraged to go down that path. We grew up with predetermined ideas of what we could and couldn’t do or what we should or shouldn’t study. Many of us got to were we are by putting one foot in front of the next: high school, college major, Master’s degree… Only the very lucky ones discovered early on what their passion was. The rest of us just got here. So if when you take stock of your life you realize that your most treasured activity happens outside of work, it’s very unlikely that your career is as successful as you wished it were.

Today we talk with a woman who oozes passion from every pore of her body. That passion is tea. But before tea it was fragrances. Miriam Novalle, founder of T Salon, is not only one of the most successful women in business in New York but one of the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet. She’s a consummate storyteller, something that happens naturally when finding your passion in your career.

Finding your passion and purpose with your nose

Let’s start at the beginning. Before you founded T Salon. How did your professional career start?

During the early 70’s two of my dear friends and I inherited a 400 seat movie theater in the Catskills. Out of nowhere we were selecting our favorite movies and creating concerts on the weekends, building an organic health bar and living out our fantasies, Always staying true to our passions and sharing that with our fans.

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TSalon at Chelsea Market

I moved from the Catskills to Woodstock where I met a lady who was developing and creating essential oils. I knew then that I had found my true-hearted passion. In 1975 I opened up the first “Body Shop”-style store in Woodstock NY, We blended and created fragrances out of essential oils that were sold alone and added to lotions, bubble baths and love oils. As the business grew, so did the product line to include lingerie and women’s accessories. It grew from one store to five.

In 1982 I sold the concept to Sears and Roebuck. They failed at it royally because they were a self-service store and the product needed a hands-on sales team.

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What does it mean to be “a Nose”?

A nose is someone who can smell and define flowers, herbs, and barks, and understand their level of intensity. It’s someone with the ability to know how to mix and blend these smells into a successful perfume.

TSalon loose tea samples- Finding your passion is not a one-time thing. Your passion may change along your life.

TSalon loose tea samples- Finding your passion is not a one-time thing. Your passion may change along your life.

I am a self-taught “nose”. I opened my senses to the universe and developed a fine ability to create notes for fragrances and blends of perfumes. My nose was later insured by Lords of London for a million dollars because of its value to the industry.

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Was finding your professional passion a one time thing or did you have to look for another passion once you changed industries?

Yes, fragrances were a passion of mine. But my true love has always been and still is – painting. I sold my first art installation to Chase Manhattan Bank. I traded my art and abilities while I was in school at Lorenzo de Medici in Florence Italy for a used BMW. (The dealership wanted their family portrait painted.)

I showed my work at the Royal Academy in London. I also concluded a 2 -year study in studio arts in NYC and learned to collaborate with other artists to create installations, knowledge which I would later use to design and create all my packaging for my tea business.

Leverage your passion. Read the top qualities of a leader, explore this blog!

From fragrances to tea

What was the turning point when you decided to get into tea?

My sister was about to marry a man from Liverpool England. I was going to school in Florence at the time, and went to meet her new family and about to be husband.

We had something that I’d heard of but had never been treated to personally, “Afternoon Tea.” What a delight of tastes and smells and tea. Wow. We had scones, Devon cream, jams, and small tea sandwiches, along with tea. Except that the tea was an awful, dark water with loads of sugar and milk. I then realized where to put my nose and my palette of colors: into the tea biz!

Love and passion of what I do fuels the fire within- Quote by Miriam Novalle

Love and passion of what I do fuels the fire within- Quote by Miriam Novalle

How did your experience in the fragrance industry help you in the tea business?

I was blessed and honored to partner with Herb Albert of A&M. He wanted to create a personalized perfume. I would put up my nose and he would fund it. We became partners and we launched a successful, first ever, celebrity perfume called “Listen.” What an amazing ride.

I learned that notes of fragrance were similar to notes of tea. Both fill the senses.

Fragrances to me are on the emotional side, they have a memory of someone that you once loved, someone that you met in a fleeting moment, and the only thing you can recall is that fragrance whiffing by, or that pillow the next morning… Tea to me has the same memory, it’s the morning after, it’s the sitting in that quiet place with yourself or someone else. It is as ancient as the fragrance industry.

Tea is thousands of years old. It was drunk by the old Tibetan teachers, and Buddhist monks in order to achieve wonderfully long and silent meditations. I think they both have historical value. We are steeped in history with both products.

You went from having the largest tea salon in the world to having no stores. Were these adjustments you made in order to continue finding your passion and purpose?

TSalon Private label lines

TSalon Private label lines

“Adjustment” is an understatement. It was a true internal ride to avoid falling into the depths of depression when you think that you have failed and wonder where did you go wrong. It was a process to realize that you have the ability to manifest what you believe in is a great product, but in a different format. To give others the ability to communicate your passion in a different viral way through social networking, newsletters, blogs, mentoring, through your website, through creating pop-up stores, through other stores carrying your product, through hotels serving them in their lounges, restaurants and spas.

Do you ever get bored? How do you continue to fuel your passion?

Never, never do I ever get bored. I collaborate with so many amazing folks daily on new ideas, new ways to bring tea to the forefront. Ideas flow out of my head every day. Love and passion of what I do fuels the fire within…

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Advantages of successful women in business

Are there any gender advantages that successful women in business share?

Internal intuition!!!! Vibrationally, women of the past and women of the future speak the same language. We could do anything we put our hearts into… We have big hearts and we are the elders who share our wisdom with the younger generation, and we rock!

You are very interested in health and sustainability. Tell us about some of the initiatives you’re involved with.

Do we have all afternoon? I’m on the board of The American Sustainable Business Council. We go to the White House to speak to men up on the hill on sustainability, on women in business, on making a difference for the next generation.

I’m involved with Urban Zen created by Donna Karan. Bringing yoga and tea to hospitals, wellness centers, and educating the health practitioners to understand there are many ways of healing the body and mind, and tea is big factor.

You’ve had and continue to have a fascinating life. Do you find the stories or do the stories find you?

Both. I think when you’re truly in your skin your life becomes a story.

You can connect with Miriam Novalle at:


Twitter – @TSalonNYC @TSalonLA