We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Edwards and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle, how does your business help the community? Paths to Purpose is a weekly podcast designed to help people learn how to find intrinsic purpose, consider creative career projects that have impact, and find people with whom they can collaborate who gate-keep more meaningful career opportunities. We host conversations with inspirational people who have found the courage to trek off-path for purpose.
I created Paths to Purpose after working with my mentor and co-host, Alan Jagolinzer, to find my own purpose filled career. I met Alan five years ago when I was an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, and I had no idea how to turn my passion for human rights advocacy into a career. Alan’s approach to finding a career was unlike anything I had experienced before – it completely flipped the script on what things to consider and prioritize when choosing a career.
Since then, I’ve worked with Alan to help other students find careers rooted in purpose. I found that many of my conversations with students and young professionals were often very similar – they were confused and hesitant to engage with their purpose because they couldn’t figure out how they could get there or how to make money down that path.
The goal of Paths to Purpose is to share many different stories of purpose – and many different paths of getting there – in order to provide high school and college students a methodology to cultivating a meaningful career that offers greater potential impact, more personal compatibility, and lower likelihood of mental health concerns.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Paths to Purpose is still in its early stages, but from the beginning we knew that we needed to establish trust with our audience. That meant being vulnerable and authentic in our own career paths and sharing not only successes but also failures along the way. One of the main motivations behind creating the podcast for me was the lack of discussion of how “successful” people navigated their careers. Lots of the books that I read, speakers I heard, and other podcasts I listened to all featured really incredible people, who had brilliant success stories. Listening to their meteoric rises was both inspiring and stressful, because it felt completely unattainable.
We have been very intentional in choosing guests to come on our show who are at different stages in their path – we’ve featured individuals still in school, individuals who just landed their first job, and individuals who have pivoted in their career many times. We want our audience to have as many different perspectives on creating career paths as possible, because while one individual’s story may resonate with some people, it might fall flat with others – and that is completely normal.
How do you think about risks? What role has taking risks played on your life and career
When I was younger, I was incredibly risk averse, especially when planning my career. My primary goal was to have financial security, and to enter into a field that would provide stability. I think that is a fairly normal reaction to have as a young person, and when thinking about potential career options.
As I’ve gotten older, and through my work with Alan, I’ve come to realize that as human beings, we tend to overestimate our downside risk, which can really limit our potential.
I’ve had the most growth as a human being, and professionally, when I have taken the most risks and intentionally put myself in uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations. I always try and think about what the “worst case scenario” is before taking a risk – and if the risk will not cause physical or psychological harm to myself or others, then I feel more comfortable to proceed.
How do you define success?
I feel the most successful when I am engaging with my purpose – when I am working to build more equitable societies through my legal career, and through Paths to Purpose.
But – success is completely arbitrary! It is natural as human beings to compare ourselves to others. However, this can be problematic when talking about career success. It is so easy to look at someone else and think “I am not doing enough / I am not successful / I am behind” etc., and that negative self-talk can be incredibly damaging to our psyche.
One of my friends, and a recent guest of Paths to Purpose, Phoebe Kluck, shared one method she used to combat anxiety when she compared herself to others was to ask herself “If I could give up everything I am doing right now to go do what that person is doing, would I?” If the answer is no, then our comparison isn’t healthy, and if the answer is yes, then we should consider how to create a similar path to that opportunity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love starting off a weekend with visitors by going on a hike at Chautauqua. There are so many great trails in Colorado, but if we have limited time, the Royal Arch trail is always a crowd pleaser. If you don’t feel like hiking, driving up Flagstaff to the Lost Gulch Lookout – it has phenomenal views. I had a friend get engaged there last weekend and it was stunning!
My absolute favorite restaurant to take friends and family when they visit is the Rio on Pearl Street. They have a phenomenal rooftop view of the Flatirons, and excellent frozen margaritas. Fun fact – the building that the Rio is currently in was a tire shop when my grandfather was going to graduate school at CU in the 1950s, and he got his tires re-treaded there!
But, if you want to get out of Boulder for dinner or drinks, I would highly recommend going to River North Art District (RiNo) in Denver. There are so many great outdoor patios there too!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Absolutely – I would like to shout-out my mentor and co-host, Alan Jagolinzer!
After working with Alan while I was an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, I found my purpose and passion for women’s rights advocacy. This led me to get my Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, work at Nike in Portland, OR, and now I’m in law school at Colorado Law.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Alan’s support and guidance – and wouldn’t have started Paths to Purpose without him!
Instagram: @paths2purposepod and @danicedwards
Other: You can find us on all major streaming platforms – Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, etc.