Sometimes the teacher needs to become the student.
Ever since we started doing employee spotlight articles on The Bloq I’ve noticed a common thread that weaves through most of the employees here; they work at Quest because they want to change the world. So when I sat down to speak with former school teacher and current Quest Educator Giselle Carrillo, I was a bit confused. Wouldn’t a teacher be in a far better position to change the world than a Quest Educator?
“Every time I actually tried to make a difference I remembered getting in trouble. In Philly where I used to teach, the dean and I would go into the projects at 9 o’clock at night and visit families, give them food and hang with the kids. When the principal found out he said ‘that’s offensive, you can’t do that.’ Even though the families wanted it. I got tired of having my hand slapped.” Giselle felt that the education system in America seemed more concerned with standardized testing results instead of allowing teachers to be the leaders and mentors kids need. Giselle had enough – the child of immigrants from Mexico, she admits she and her parents were lacking knowledge in nutrition. It had always been a burning passion of hers, so she decided to make a change.
I had no plan. Having to tell my parents that their first child they put through college was choosing to be unemployed was so scary.
“Both of my parents are diabetic, so I started to feed into the mentality that I, too was going to be diabetic someday. That’s when I stumbled upon Quest’s Transformation Tuesday posts and got inspired.” Giselle tells me – I can tell she thinks it’s cheesy, but she doesn’t know how many people mention to me that those posts are extremely helpful in their journey to a healthier life. She knew she had to get out of the public school system so she handed in her notice and packed her bags and headed back to Los Angeles.
“I had no plan. Having to tell my parents that their first child they put through college was choosing to be unemployed was so scary. I was willing to quiet the pressure. I needed to focus on something that could more quickly help people change their lives and nutrition was what kept coming up.”
Giselle tells me about how she first decided she wanted to work at Quest and I can’t help but admire her passion for wanting to affect positive change in peoples’ lives, “The day I saw Quest was holding a job fair was the same day I had a third-round interview with a really prestigious education non-profit. I had to be true to myself so I cancelled the interview to go to a job fair.” I wish that I could say that Giselle showed up to the job fair and landed her dream job right off the bat, but instead, she was given a challenge from Quest President Tom Bilyeu. She walked into Tom’s office and, as anyone who meets Tom for the first time can attest, she was almost offended by his brutal honesty. He admitted that he liked her but thought she had no idea what success meant to her. He told her to come back in a week with an answer. During that week she poured over his words as a quote swam around her head: Some people die when they’re 25 and are buried when they’re 80. She was 25 that year and saw a lot of herself in that quote. So when she met up with Tom the following week she was prepared with her definition, “Success to me means always following your curiosities. Always staying curious about what you can be better at. Not aimlessly, but with a purpose.”
My job is to plant seeds of what is possible for your life.
After that Tom dangled a carrot and stick in front of Giselle telling her, “We don’t have what you want to do. What you want to do is bring nutrition and transformation to your community. We’re not doing that yet, but if you’re willing to wait for us, then I think this is the right place for you.” He offered her a job in customer support and she was so in love with the vision of the company that she accepted the position.
Giselle saw her time in customer support as an opportunity to become the “best damn customer support rep in the company.” Her mindset shifted and she vowed to leave the team better than when she came in. After several months, she caught wind of a new department being formed within Quest, Knowledge and Training. Without knowing anything other than the department title, Giselle emailed Kim Bilyeu that she wanted in. Shortly after that, Tom’s request for Giselle to wait for Quest to create her position came true and Giselle became a Quest Educator. I ask her what exactly that entails, “My job is to plant seeds of what is possible for your life. We’re also working to get Quest University started, which I think will be a game-changer for our production workers.” Giselle ensures that all new hires and Quest employees understand that Quest is a place for personal and professional growth. As the child of immigrant parents who worked production jobs without a pathway to higher education, Giselle’s job is literally her life’s work. “If I was told I couldn’t come back to Quest tomorrow, I’d still show up. They’d have to fight me to leave. When I started here a year and a half ago there wasn’t even a knowledge and training team but I wanted to educate people about Quest and nutrition and that’s literally my job title now, Quest Educator.”
As our conversation drew to a close I couldn’t help but think of something “So Quest” it’s hard to describe to the outside world. It’s that promise Tom made to Giselle in her interview – to an outsider it would look like a bullshit smoke screen to get someone excited to fill a position they might not be happy in. But to a Quest employee that’s a verbal contract and if there’s one thing Quest management thrives on it’s accountability. Giselle’s parting words hammer this home, “I always thought you have to work for the non-profit world to actually have a positive impact on the world. I was in the midst of it – in the most non-profity world there is, teaching in urban schools. But I never felt like I was positively contributing to the world. In fact, I might have even been doing harm. Now I’m working for a company with a non-profit mission to end metabolic disease and I actually feel like I’m affecting change.” It’s a frightening truth about our education system, but it doesn’t blot out the bright outlook Giselle has for people seeking change.
“I think you need to find what you loved when you were little and then be the forever student about it. That will always keep you moving toward your goals. It comes from a place of honesty, before life put up barriers and clouded your vision.” It may sound crazy to you reading this, but let that sink in for a moment. Does it make you feel uneasy? Then it’s probably true. If there’s one thing I learned from my time with Giselle it’s that it’s never too late to change what doesn’t make you happy. You never know what sideways steps you make might lead down the path you always wanted to be on.