Meet a Mustang with Rusty Gaillard '90
In this edition of Meet a Mustang, we connect with Rusty Gaillard ‘90. Rusty was a long-time Breck student (and now is an uncle to a pair of Breck students and a recent graduate) who lives in the Bay Area with his wife and son. Professionally, Rusty is an executive/career coach, speaker, and author, who spends his time trying to help others to define and seek success on their own terms. Through his correspondence with the alumni office, it is evident that Rusty’s enthusiasm, lived experience, and incredible storytelling help him to effectively partner with people who are working through major career decisions. Below he shares how his career pivot led him to where he is, and how glad he is that he took the risk when the opportunity was presented to him.
Rusty, thanks so much for taking the time to connect with us! Please tell us about your journey after graduating from Breck in 1990.
Career-wise, I graduated from Princeton as an aerospace engineer. After graduation, I went to work at GE Aviation in Cincinnati, only to discover I didn’t like working as an engineer as much as I liked studying aerospace engineering. I left GE for an MBA at Stanford and eventually found my way to Apple, where I worked for 14 years. I was fortunate enough to be part of the launch of the iPhone, iPad, and iWatch, and I loved being a part of something bigger than myself. I left Apple in 2019 to start my own business as an executive leadership coach, helping people achieve true success without the sacrifice many expect is required.
Personally, I built on the musical foundation I got with Lisa Doering at Breck, and I was able to sing with the Princeton Tigertones (even performing at Breck!), in a barbershop quartet, and most recently in a rock band. I live with my 15-yr old son Teddy and my amazing wife Alexandra in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Three years ago, you made a life-changing decision to step away from your executive role with Apple to pursue a new challenge. Talk to us about that decision and why you felt ready to make that pivot.
You could say it was a midlife crisis of sorts. As much as I loved Apple, I didn’t want to invest another 15 years of my life making a small impact in a large company. The challenge for me was finding out what else I could do. I spent years considering other options, but it wasn’t until someone helped me break through the assumptions I had about my career that I found a path forward: talking to people about what they really want in life.
I knew what I wanted to do, but I don’t think you’re ever fully ready to make that kind of pivot. Part of me knew it was the right move, and part of me was terrified to walk away from a great company, an MBA, and an entire career in the corporate world. Fortunately, I had the courage to take the risk, and I haven’t looked back.
At the request of the Alumni office, you have generously donated a free workshop to be offered to Breck alumni during Homecoming. Can you tell us about what will be covered and who should sign-up to attend?
"90 Minutes to Clarity" is an interactive workshop to give alumni clarity on what they want from their career and how work fits into their life. A similar workshop helped me discover my future path, and I offer this workshop to support others in finding meaningful work.
We’ll look at what holds you back, ask why you don’t have clarity (especially as a Breck alum), and lead you through an experience to give you clarity. You’ll leave the workshop with confidence and certainty in your next career step. Nothing here requires leaving your job.
If you are in your 30s and 40s and desire more meaningful work or harmony between your work and personal life, this workshop is perfect for you. Sign up for the free workshop below.
How did your Breck education help you to follow your passion in life or in your career?
My experience at Breck was highly supportive. My Breck education encouraged experimentation and learning, and teachers held me to high standards. Those principles are the foundation of the work I do today as an executive coach, and they are the same principles I applied as I transitioned from the corporate world to becoming a coach. It takes courage, support, and a drive for excellence – all things I learned at Breck.
We know you typically work with adults, but do you have any words of advice for current students?
The biggest advice I have for Breck students, college students, and recent graduates is to pursue a diversity of experiences. How can you possibly know what you like (or don’t like) without ever trying it? Don’t be afraid to try something, change directions, and try something new. As a student, you are trained to get the right answer. When it comes to your career and your life, there is no right answer. It takes courage, but experimenting and learning is the best way to find your path.
Bonus question: Breck Homecoming is right around the corner. Do you have any great Homecoming memories that you can share with us?
My favorite Homecoming memories are the sporting events. I loved watching football and playing soccer. The cool evening air, the smell of cut grass, the energy and excitement in the crowd. I felt alive, connected, and at home in those moments.
Want to connect with Rusty?
You can find him here on LinkedIn, or at his website: https://rustygaillard.com.
To sign up for "90 Minutes of Clarity" click here.
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