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October 31, 2019 Peggy Liu

Debbie Roche: Exploration is the best way to find purpose in your hustle

Debbie Roshe's career has been a winding path to hosting her own podcast, Uncomfortable.

The defining challenge of a millennial’s working life? Finding the right career.

Unlike Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, millennials tend to seek a deeper sense of fulfilment in their work lives. This shift in workplace values has pushed the conventional, arrow-shot career path to branch into multi-careerism. Feeling passionate about work is a key factor in job satisfaction for many millennials, and working several jobs is often the only way to achieve this and make an acceptable income at the same time.

This is because, more than just paychecks and promotions, millennials aim to leave a positive impact on the world. They want a larger purpose. However, in most cases, that purpose is found at the end of a winding and confusing career path. 

Meet Debbie Roche — entrepreneur, broadcaster, and storyteller. Oh, and part-time fundraising coordinator at Vancouver Radio Co-op. Like many other millennials trying to navigate the crazy job market in Vancouver, she had to go through the long-winded process of trying different jobs to find the shoe that fit. For her, that shoe ended up being broadcasting media.

At a quick glance, Roche’s professional history looks like an odd collage of unrelated jobs. She graduated with a fashion degree in Glasgow, Scotland, and instead of continuing in fashion, she began practicing as a yoga teacher when she moved to Vancouver, B.C. Seven years into her yoga teaching career, she transitioned into entrepreneurship. She founded DebTalks in 2014, a video blog that hosts women’s stories of success, failure, and determination. Two years later, she created Roche Online Business Services, a successful virtual assistant service for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Clearly, Roche had to do some exploring before settling in a job she felt was the right fit. Job-hopping is a common and perhaps strange hallmark for millennials, but there is in fact a method to this madness. When each work opportunity is viewed as a personal learning experience, exploring different jobs can help you learn new, out-of-industry skills and find clarity on your true calling. And once you understand what that purpose is, you have a broad collection of knowledge, connections, and skills to draw upon. 

This is especially relevant to the rising number of millennials pursuing entrepreneurship and self-employment. Being your own boss will call for you to wear different hats and apply different skill sets. As a veteran in this area, Roche advises, “Value your experiences. Don’t regret any of the jobs that didn’t work out or any failed venture attempts. Usually, everything you’ve ever done will help you in the future, even if they seem like ‘random jobs’ to you at the time. Everything is a learning experience.”

For example, Roche’s experiences as an entrepreneur and administrative assistant (she also worked several clerical government jobs) ended up helping her structure a business plan for a new venture. Her time in those roles also taught her valuable networking skills that helped her find the right interview subjects and marketing skills to promote her podcast.

Thus, we finally arrive at Roche’s true passion as host and producer on Uncomfortable the Podcast. Uncomfortable is dedicated to creating a safe space where people can openly discuss difficult topics such as mental health, relationships, death, abortion, and shame. Officially launched in December 2018, Uncomfortable is still in its early stages, but Roche has already recorded 32 episodes with various entrepreneurs, psychologists, writers, and coaches from across Canada and around the world.

After finding her footing in the media industry, Roche knew she wanted to make a difference in the dialogue and conceptions surrounding many uncomfortable topics in our society. She created Uncomfortable to address the invisible challenges people live with every day, but she also suspected that this work would also have an effect on her own personal growth.

“I wanted to help people — especially the underrepresented voices in society — open up about difficult experiences and gain a sense of acceptance,” said Roche. “But there was a personal reason for starting Uncomfortable, too. I knew that creating this podcast would help me get out of my comfort zone and become more confident.”

When it comes to growing Uncomfortable, Roche wants to go all the way. She envisions it evolving into a larger platform including live events with speaker panels and an editorial component with a blog for online communities to share opinions. Currently, Uncomfortable is available on RadioPublic, iTunes, Podbean, Spotify, Youtube, and Google Play.

Peggy Liu

Peggy Liu is a freelance writer and content creator and editor. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in English Literature, where she was also a mental health columnist for the student newspaper. When she isn't digging her way to the bottom of a peanut butter jar or petting friendly dogs around Vancouver, she can be found sitting in cafes with a notebook and a cup of coffee.