Changing Careers to Find Work/Life Balance

Ruben Levisman. Photo by Mike Miller/Northwestern Mutual

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been,” said Ruben Levisman, citing the famous line by the nineteenth-century English novelist George Eliot.

Eliot’s words have become a mantra for Levisman, who credits a bold career move several years ago with enhancing his professional and personal life.

For a decade, Levisman enjoyed a successful career in media advertising consulting for well-known major broadcast companies. But he grew dissatisfied with his position as the industry became commoditized, with people more interested in making transactions than developing long-term relationships.

“It just wasn’t for me,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself doing that for the next 30 years.”

Levisman wanted a more fulfilling career in which he could make a difference in people’s lives by nurturing relationships with clients and colleagues. He longed to work independently in a creative and intellectually stimulating environment that also provided the flexibility to balance work and family commitments.

“It was time to make a move,” said the Miami native.

His career search led to Northwestern Mutual, where today Levisman is making an impact with clients—not only helping them feel more secure about their financial future and their retirement, but also helping others who are seeking the same opportunities within the financial services career. He also has more time to enjoy family activities with his wife and three children.

“Northwestern Mutual’s values were in line with my own values,” said Levisman. “Joining the company was one of the best career moves I’ve ever made.”

Levisman admits switching professions wasn’t an easy decision. But he was inspired to explore new career opportunities by his father, who operated a successful beauty salon in Miami for two decades before entering the financial services profession.

“It’s hard to walk away when you’re running your own business. But the beauty salon was very demanding and stressful. Changing careers was a good move for our family,” said Levisman, who was a young teenager when his father switched careers.

Identifying Core Values

Levisman believes everyone is capable of making a career move, no matter how daunting the task may seem at first. He advises people to ask themselves these key questions: What motivates me in life and at work? What makes me feel happy and fulfilled?

“For me, spending time with my family was a top priority,” he said. Now, with his flexible work schedule, Levisman can attend his son’s Little League games as a proud dad, assistant coach and team sponsor. “It’s been terrific to be part of that experience,” he said.

On the professional front, Levisman wanted to work in a field where he could develop long-lasting relationships with clients. “I was looking for a career in which I could provide value to the community,” he said.

Today Levisman helps people identify what’s important in their own life so they can better plan for their financial future.

Levisman attributes his success to his dedication to help his clients attain and secure their vision of their future by helping them provide clarity in what they want and where they want to go.

“Everyone’s motivation is different,” he said. “For some, it’s planning for an early retirement so they can enjoy other aspects of life, or work because they want to—not because they have to. For others, it’s about saving for college because they don’t want their children to struggle like they did. I help people plan through the different phases of their life as their priorities change.”

Overall, they value a relationship with an expert who understands them, helps them quantify their goals, coordinates their actions and educates them on the best options. They want someone who supports them and, more importantly, stays in touch as their life evolves personally, professionally and financially.

He believes his own values have guided his success. “People want to work with a financial professional who is ethical,” he said. “I live each day by making decisions guided by my most important values—trust, integrity and open communication. My goal is to help clients attain their vision of the future.”

Researching Career Options

Once he realized that he wanted to make a career move, Levisman conducted extensive research, even cold calling industry leaders across the country to get their insights about working as a financial services professional.

“I didn’t want to jump into something before knowing if I could really do it,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were willing to share their knowledge and time. It gave me the confidence that I could succeed in this profession.”

One contact referred Levisman to Robert Nuno, a wealth management advisor in Florida who later became his mentor. Now Levisman is the mentor, sharing his passion for the industry by guiding men and women who have recently joined Northwestern Mutual or who are exploring career options in the world of finance.

“It’s all about paying it forward,” said Levisman. “I enjoy helping others transition into the business and educating them about the opportunities in the field.”

Taking a Risk

Lastly, Levisman embraced the risks needed to grow personally and professionally. He believed the potential long-term benefits for his family outweighed the short-term sacrifices. He was right. Even his wife–who was initially hesitant about her husband’s career move–decided to leave her position at a law firm to work by his side as director of client services.

“It’s easy for people to find excuses to stay in a job that isn’t satisfying: ‘I have a mortgage. I have kids. I’m too old,’” said Levisman. “But if they don’t take that step now, then when?”

 

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM), Milwaukee, WI and its subsidiaries.