Taking Initiative — Tropical Edition

About 2.5 months ago, the startup I’m an apprentice at (MailLift) with got accepted to an accelerator in Puerto Rico (Parallel18), and moved out of Austin. They invited me to go with for 6 months or to move home, so I went home to Missouri to continue working for them remotely.

Mid-June, I find myself on this little, economically hurting island, working with my team again.

Three interns have joined the team, with a 4th one starting early July. I’m here to train them, then I’m heading back home. In the 4 days I’ve been here, I’ve learned a few things worth sharing:

Take leaps, because I promise you won’t regret them.

I didn’t want to come down to Puerto Rico at all. It would mean leaving my dogs, my parents, and my friends — all of which I’m very fond of. I did it when I went to Texas and didn’t enjoy it, so why would Puerto Rico be any different?

Because it’s a freakin’ paradise, that’s why. I’m loving it. Take leaps. It’s good for you to miss people, to realize why you love home. It’s good for you to explore when you have the opportunity. It’s good to spend 5 weeks walking everywhere you have to go, being 5 minutes from the ocean, staying in at night because it isn’t safe, communicating even if there are language barriers, tasting pina colada’s, and just experiencing life in general. Everything makes us grow even the slightest bit as long as we let it.

Take initiative.

I’m training a fast-learning sales team off of less than 6 months experience. I’m taking initiative in my career by helping mold theirs. In doing so, I’m gaining an education full of leadership skills, that some wait until their 30’s for. I’m doing a better job in my role because there are people looking up to me. At the same time, I feel like I’m on vacation. This island is peppered with palm trees and outlined by sandy beaches. The food is amazing. My skin is getting tanner. My mind is growing. I’m taking some me-time. I’m learning to feel peace even when quarterly goals are just around the corner (3 more days, all you salespeople).

Watch where you step.

I mean this both figuratively and literally. While you explore and do great things, take your safety into consideration. Don’t go out alone at night. Keep your doors locked. Observe your surroundings. There are amazing things in the world, but you have to do the digging and seek them out. At the same time, you have to watch for people, places, and things, that would keep you from seeking out/extracting the lessons you want to learn, and spreading your message.

The literal sense of this advice is due to there being a lot of stray dogs in Puerto Rico. I may have stepped in dog poop on the way to work this morning. Watch where you step, people.


Originally published at on June 27, 2016.

Diana Hazel Zitting

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Diana, 18, is a Praxis participant. Her mission is to prove to the world that education is not one-size-fits-all & that you can be successful without college.