Source | First Round Review
Ellen Chisa knew she had to quit Harvard Business School. She looked out the window, and back down to her desk where a full-time offer letter from Lola sat, awaiting her reply. It didn’t matter that she’d only finished her first year. Or that most people she asked said it was a mistake. She knew it was time to make a change, and she did.
Chisa made the decision fast, but not rashly. It wasn’t the first time she had quit (and it wouldn’t be the last), so she had a framework to think through it:
She didn’t know what she wanted to get out of the Harvard experience, so she didn’t know how to prioritize her classes. There was missing context.
She would’ve definitely chosen the Lola opportunity over HBS had it arrived earlier. This she knew stone cold.
The Lola role would give her an experience she had prioritized for a long time — the ability to grow a product team.
She could always go back to HBS. There would be no chance to join Lola at such an early stage again.
This is how Chisa’s brain works — in systems and lists. She uses them to steer her life, personally and professionally, and it lets her spot patterns. In particular, knowing when to quit and when to say no has made a massive, positive difference in her trajectory. It sounds counterintuitive, but these decisions have made her career as an influential product manager and blogger possible. Here, she shares her best advice on when to quit and say no, and how to use the space this creates to do what truly matters.
The Little Known and Vastly Underestimated ‘Quitter’s Mindset’
“Leaving Kickstarter was so much harder than leaving Harvard,” says Chisa, who was a leading product manager at the crowdfunding company. “When you love your co-workers and your office and the work you do every day, it’s nearly impossible to leave. But working there became core to my identity, and realizing that is when I knew I had to let it go.”