Rachel East is co-founder of Clarity on Fire, the go to destination for helping people find their passion in life and in their careers. Her site is something that should be immediately sent to the college graduate who is struggling to find their purpose. Yet Rachel and her co-founder Kristen had their own personal struggles before they landed on creating a platform to help others! Learn more about Rachel and the famous passion profile quiz that helped make their website a household name.
1. Rachel, you’re one half of Clarity On Fire— can you tell us more how you and your co-founder, Kristen Walker, started Clarity on Fire?
Even though we didn’t officially launch Clarity on Fire until 2013, the seeds were planted as early as 2010–after we’d both graduated college and started our first “real world” jobs. Both of us spiraled pretty quickly into deep existential panic! We were in separate jobs in different cities, but both of us were asking ourselves (and each other), “Is this all there is??” and feeling dejected by vague, unhelpful advice and a lack of clear answers. We figured that we couldn’t be the only people who wanted deeper fulfillment from their life and career, so we set out to become the experts we’d needed at the beginning of our journey.
2. Your Passion Profile Quiz is amazing and has helped more than 300,000 people pinpoint discover how they can bridge their passions and careers. Were you shocked by the success of the quiz and what sort of transformations have you seen post quiz?
Yes, even years later we’re still surprised by how popular the quiz is! For whatever reason, it hit a pain point that a lot of people feel, but few are actually talking about. I think everyone is so fixated on figuring out what their passion is that they don’t realize that’s only half of the equation.
The other half is how you’re meant to combine your career with your passion. That’s what the quiz measures. Without understanding that piece, you’re only ever going to be half-clear about your career direction (and very likely you’ll feel like something is wrong with you, without understanding why). The best thing the quiz does for people, over and over again, is gives them permission to combine their career and passion in a way that works for them–it allows you to stop comparing yourself to other people and do what works for you. The relief and energy people feel when they don’t feel pressured to be something they’re not is profound!
3. In addition to offering online courses you also offer individual coaching. Did you always know you wanted to be a life coach and what were you doing pre-life coaching?
I didn’t even know life coaching was a thing until a few months before I decided to enroll in training! In hindsight, the things I found myself interested in throughout my life (like psychology, journalism, archaeology, FBI profiling, even acting) all have a common thread. I’ve always been fascinated by getting to the bottom of why people do what they do, and what makes them tick. Coaching is just one more expression of that interest (and who knows, it may not be the last expression. Life is long, and I’m definitely going to evolve!).
I actually tried to pursue some of those things–psychology, journalism, archaeology–but none of them ever felt right. And what I realized (and what the Passion Profile Quiz is great for) is that, even though there’s a common thread that ties those interests together, how you do each one isn’t my style. I value freedom and autonomy. I didn’t want to be trapped behind a desk, or capped with a certain salary, or beholden to someone else. I wanted to be my own boss and make my own structure. So coaching allows me to do that in a way that those other things probably wouldn’t.
4. I’ve come through a ton of people that don’t know what you they want out of their life and career— how do you help people find what they should/could/can/ be doing instead?
The first step when it comes to turning what you don’t want into clarity around what you’d rather be doing is to dive in to why you don’t like something. Because your values are ALWAYS on display, whether you realize it or not. If, for example, you feel really trapped by the rigid 9-5 structure of your job, then the reason it’s bothering you so much is probably because you value some degree of freedom and autonomy. And if that’s true, then how much freedom/flexibility would you prefer?
There’s always gold to be mined in any situation, if you’re willing to think about what values are being stifled or unexpressed. And when you’re clearer about what you value, it’s a lot easier to forge a path that’s more aligned with who you are.
5. What’s the greatest part of working with your best friend? What’s the biggest challenge?
Working with my best friend is the only reason I was able to build a business in the first place. We both agree that we’d probably never have managed to do it on our own without the accountability and support you get from having a partner. But that’s also why it’s hard–because we’re so similar, we tend to hate the same things and shy away from the same things. At the best of times we help each other make it through, and at the worst of times we can end up enabling each other’s bad behavior. But at the end of of the day it works because, like any long-term relationship, we want the same things out of life and business!