Since law school, Alyson Decker worked relentlessly toward her goal — making partner at a big law firm. Years later, and although Alyson had given up on her goal of making partner, things were going well. She’d landed a rare in-house litigation role and been promoted to Vice President of Legal Affairs. Then she was unexpectedly offered a partner position at a law firm.
“Things were going well, and I was really enjoying being in-house. But this was this shiny object that I’d always wanted,” she said. “It was a really hard decision for me to make, but I realized that just choosing a title wasn’t what I really wanted for my career or my life.”
She turned down the job, taking to Twitter to share her experience and complex emotions on saying no to the exact thing she’d been working toward for years.
“Somebody said ‘This is what OwnTrail is all about’. So I went to OwnTrail, and I saw all these other women being really honest and open about their experiences and their choices and not choosing, you know, that career path that we’ve been told our whole life is what we need to do. It just was sort of this revelation for me.”
She shared her trail, an interconnected series of personal and professional milestones that include her experiences moving between law firms, playing roller derby and choosing not to take the partner path.
“I saw all these other women being really honest and open about their experiences and their choices and not choosing, you know, that career path that we’ve been told our whole life is what we need to do. It just was sort of this revelation for me.”
“As I got more comfortable, and as I saw other women’s trails, I saw a lot of the same shared situations that we’ve been through in different workplaces, the same issues that a lot of women face — dealing with sexual harassment, dealing with gender discrimination. Being able to put those things in or those decisions that you’ve made based on that, I think that gives you so much more power in taking control of the situation,” she said.
It was the boost she needed to bring even more authenticity to her trail, a move that shared her nonlinear, nuanced journey with thousands of others. It also piqued her interest in OwnTrail’s Trail Guides program — a program of weekly reflection and connection activities to more deeply define and take control of your personal narrative in an authentic, intentional small group. She initially signed up with a vague intention of networking, but soon found something far more powerful through the experience.
“The Trail Guides program was really helpful because I hadn’t been introspective in a long time about what I have done in my career, what I want to do, and I just hadn’t sat down and thought about that for a really, really long time,” she said.
Her reflection laid the foundation for a series of changes. She added experiences of mistreatment to her professional milestones, claiming them in a way she never could on social media.
“I’m here now because of those experiences. I took these values or these opportunities from something that wasn’t great, and I made it into something.”
“I’m here now because of these experiences. I took these values or these opportunities from something that wasn’t great, and I made it into something. But so many times people just don’t even want to hear that they just want to see the end product,” she said.
Her OwnTrail experience helped her look forward, too, as she aligned her values and personal interests with her professional side. No longer tied to the goal of making partner, she launched a side hustle mediation business with encouragement from her Trail Guides cohort. She took her broad goal of joining a board and clarified her specific aspiration — naming the type of company and role she was seeking. Soon after adding this aspiration to her trail, she was approached by a company that fit the bill and joined their board. As her confidence grew and knowing that the OwnTrail community had her back, when she left her corporate 9-5 job she went all-in on entrepreneurship — pivoting her 5-9 mediation business into a full-time fractional general counsel model serving founders and startups of all stages.
“I suddenly was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this, I need to figure out how to do this. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I’m going to do this.’”
“On OwnTrail, I’m talking to other women, learning when they felt that they were able to make that leap, what they felt like when they were making that leap. That has been so helpful for myself when I suddenly was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this, I need to figure out how to do this. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I’m going to do this.’” she said.
It’s a leap she wasn’t able to make without community. Without finding her community.
“The connections that I’ve already made through OwnTrail, I think those are lasting, no matter what. And I think that’s the strength of OwnTrail. The people that I’ve made genuine connections with, that’s not going to go away, those people are there to stay.”
“You can create your own voice [on OwnTrail] and no one’s going to come and say, No, Your voice is wrong. Or this is how you need to be better,” she said. “Instead, it’s just the people that you have genuine connections with and who want to help you and who are interested in you because you are being genuine and honest.”