Dana Barrett: Dreaming Again

886261_10154488569943378_5960221642860349750_oYears ago, before the internet was the mammoth it is today, Dana Barrett was a pro in the technology field. She had successfully climbed the corporate ladder, rung by safe rung, obtaining the American dream. The problem was that it wasn’t really her dream. It was an ideal that didn’t quite satisfy her appetite. Like most parents, Barrett thought the best thing for her to do financially was to stick with the career that brought in the most money. Paying the bills was the most important thing. Happiness and fulfillment was a luxury she couldn’t afford or even entertain, so she thought.

“I was raised in a way that you go out and get the best possible corporate job you can, with the best possible title you can. That’s just what we were taught to do,” Barrett said. “It wasn’t like now where we are taught to find what we love or find our passion.”

Well into her 40s at the time, Barrett did an about face and changed careers. She jumped from the daily grind of corporate America to the just as harsh, and nearly uncertain, world of media. Although she ultimately made the shift, she had a bit of an unexpected nudge in the form of a dismissal from her job.

“Often (people) say the best thing that can ever happen to you is getting fired. It never feels like it in the moment, but it actually turned out to be true for me. Rather than getting another job doing something I didn’t love, I decided it was time to take what had been my side hustle and pursue it,” Barrett said.

For years, she worked her corporate full-time job and did any media gigs she could whenever she had available time. Writing random articles, anything in radio and even a stint at stand-up comedy somewhat fulfilled the itch she had for entertainment and media. She was so thirsty that she worked radio in the mornings, before her full-time job, answering the phone and doing the traffic report, which she deemed as probably the most boring job she ever held.

Eventually, she relinquished the stability of her corporate job and focused her endeavors on her passions.

It was all the other endeavors that led Barrett to believe that she was on the right track; besides, she says it all simply felt right. Following the path of her passion, she landed more media positions.

Today, she is the host of “The Dana Barrett Show,” a live, two-hour, daily radio talk show based in Atlanta. Her guests include everyone from start-up business owners to executives of huge companies and investors. Admittedly, she says her business show is a bit unorthodox. Instead of the normal Wall Street lingo and content, her programming is a self-described combination of conversation and chat mixed with smart content.

“My philosophy is everything is business. We’re all engaged in business all the time. I’m holding a phone--that’s a business. I’m drinking coffee--that’s a business. This mindset allows me the freedom to talk to anyone. I can talk about anything because business is in everyday life.”

“This didn’t all come easily. I made and sent a zillion tapes and CDs. I got plenty of rejection and there was plenty of self-doubt, plenty of hurdles,” she said.

For Barrett, the battle wasn’t just in pursing her dreams. It was also in reconciling the years – forty plus years to be exact. She discovered that no one was ecstatic about hiring a nearly middle-aged woman. Age was a huge hurdle she had to cross, if only within her own mind.

“The first time I spoke in public about my story, I was nervous about whether I wanted to talk about my age. I thought, ‘I’m in media, and young and beautiful women who are 22 will swoop in and take my job,’” she said. “I really believe that’s part of my story. I really believe there is no end stage. You have to keep trying because you never know when you will make progress. I didn’t get my dream job until I was 46.”

Even though she had become secure within herself, Barrett decided she a few personal changes were in order. In 2010, she took an objective examination and didn’t quite like what she saw. She knew she was the only one who could fix it. She simply did what she had to do to get what she wanted.

“I decided I wanted to be in media. I said, ‘Okay, looking the way you look now, you’re not going to be in media.’ There had to be an app for that. I got MyFitnessPal and I went out and lost 40 pounds, and I spent time and energy on my clothing. I spent money when I didn’t have it on building a website and logo and all those things to create an image.”

Barrett’s road to fulfilling her dreams was wrought with a myriad of unexpected twists and turns, including a battle with breast cancer, which she overcame just like she did every other obstacle in her life. Sickness, insecurities, rejection and even complacency may have slowed her down, but in the midst of it all, she always continued forward.

“Life is short and it can all be taken from you at any moment. So if you’re not going to go for it now, then when will you go for it? What are you waiting for?” Barrett asked. “It could all end tomorrow. Do you really want to get to the end of your life and realize you chickened out? You didn’t try? If I had stopped when I was 38 or 42 because I thought I was too old, I might have never gotten here.”