When Sloane Davidson graduated from college, there was a plan. Having just completed a post-college trek around Europe, Sloane was excited to leave Pittsburgh and start her new adventure working at a resort, the next stepping stone on her path to conquer the dining services industry.  She was due to start work in Florida on September 15…


When the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred in New York City, Sloane’s plans came to a grinding halt. Beyond flights being cancelled and the tourism industry in general tanking, Sloane found that she didn’t want to leave her family.

“I sheltered in. Like, I wanted to be home. I wanted to pick up my sisters from school. I wanted to eat dinner with my family…and I just really felt thrown off from whatever it was that I thought I was doing, even if it wasn’t very serious or…a big job. And I contemplated a whole lot of different career paths.“

When we talk about disruption, it is typically in a very personal context. What Sloane, and many others of her generation, experienced was disruption on a national scale. It made her re-examine what she wanted from a career, from her life, and how she could best impact the world around her.

Sloane likes to think of herself as water flowing downstream, with lots of little tributaries feeding into it as it makes its way. She has been passionate about many issues, held copious job titles, and worked in varied circumstances, but everything she has done before has fed into where she is now: CEO and Founder of Hello Neighbor, a mentoring program that supports resettled refugees by matching them with dedicated neighbors.

“I’m trying to help people find the goodness within them amidst and amongst so much noise and negativity in the world, and the media, and the political system, and everything we’re facing right now…I don’t pay attention to all of that negative noise. I think about the day to day and the impact that you can make just going through your life and helping people.”

Whether you want to work with nonprofits or are looking to take your “side-hustle” front and center, I think you’ll find Sloane’s advice practical and incredibly helpful. And if you have a few minutes, please check out and see what Sloane has been working on. I was so touched by her stories of people helping other people, whether neighbors or strangers, and I have a feeling you’ll be touched as well.

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Takeaways from this episode:

  • Treat finding a job like having a job
  • If you know that something’s not working, it’s okay to go. Sometimes we try to force ourselves to “stick with a job” for a year or more, but if it is making us unhappy it is okay to look elsewhere.
  • If you are considering becoming a full-time consultant or entrepreneur, ask yourself:
    • Am I focused and good enough at time management?
    • Am I good at managing money? You will, at least initially, need to be your own bookkeeper.
    • Am I a closer? A big part of working for yourself is finding projects and closing the deal.
    • What should I charge? If you want your take-home to be $50/hr, multiply it by three to compensate for overhead and taxes.
  • Start small, start anywhere. If you’re considering changing directions you don’t have to be all or nothing, you can “ramp up.” Plan to get to the places you want to go.
  • If you’re interested in something, talk to as many people as you can who do that thing. Research as much as you can.
  • Be willing to fail. Be willing to push yourself through “the sticky points” and keep going.

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