By Joyce Carroll
Special to Delaware Business Times
The parental question, “Just who do you think you are?”, was definitely not meant to be answered. But for Dr. Sarah Brown of Wilmington, the answer is a critical one for career advancement and job satisfaction.
Brown is the author of Know Thyself Guides®, a pair of personalized books espousing the importance of tuning into one’s strengths in order to find happiness. She begins a five-part series in today’s Delaware Business Times.
At a 2013 TEDx event in Wilmington, Brown told her audience, “If we can be truly honest about who we are, and bring that knowledge into every major decision, we can make a choice with genuine integrity and commit to it wholeheartedly.”
Becoming comfortable in one’s shoes is a journey. And Brown’s revelations about herself weren’t overnight discoveries. Her childhood years were largely spent in Martinsville, a small city in southwestern Virginia. Although her father’s position at DuPont required frequent family moves, she felt grounded regarding aspirations — her passions for math and science were evident early on.
“I thought I wanted to be an academic physicist,” she said, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Like the back roads that traverse northern Delaware’s countryside, that path had its twists and turns. “When I was in college, I gave that up,” she said of physics, adding the decision was made one Friday afternoon in class. The rigors of the class, she decided, would impede her social life. She switched to mathematics, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
“Theoretical math played into my understanding of why things are the way they are,” she said. But while seeking a doctorate program in math with plans to teach, she found the market glutted. Instead, she joined the business world, moving up the ranks first at Southern Bell, where she led the team that installed the first digital local central office for the company, then DuPont, and later, Accenture.
Brown, who began her employment as the first woman in her field within Southern Bell in 1977, learned from these work experiences, eventually coming full circle to that realization that teaching was a natural given strength. She earned her doctorate in 1994 in psycho-educational processes from Temple University in Philadelphia.
Now, with “How to be Happy, Successful, and Understood – Choosing a New Career” and “How to be Happy, Successful, and Understood at Work,” the avid learner is guiding others. Both customized books, which she refers to as “me” books, were self-published in 2013. Her next project: A series of “we” books. The books will help target audiences like veterans or nonprofit employees navigate the workplace.
Today, Brown, who said she has retired, is enjoying hobbies like social media and reading. As one realizes her lifestyle of publishing and public speaking, retirement is clearly an oxymoron. Still, it’s evident to her interviewer that she is content with her post-retirement calling.
“I have a fundamental belief, a deep spiritual belief, that everyone’s on the planet to do something. When they find it, when they’re really grooving on it, it will make themselves happy and, everyone around them,” she said.