I started my career as a fifth-grade elementary teacher, and then I was a New Jersey state trooper for 10 years. As a trooper, I worked in protection for then-governors Chris Christie and Jon Corzine before doing it for Mark Zuckerberg and other Meta (formerly Facebook) executives starting in 2013.

But through all those jobs, something big was always missing and I wasn't sure what it was. 

Before working with Zuckerberg, I hadn't been looking for a new job 

When I was working on Chris Christie's team, we were at the Sun Valley Conference, a huge conference full of big-name CEOs. Christie and Zuckerberg were good friends because they worked on a public school initiative together. I got to know Meta's security team; we hung out all week.

In the end, one of them approached me and said they had an opening and that Meta would fly me out to interview. I thought, "Okay, I'll take a free trip to California." They got me a hotel and a rental car, too. 

Brooks Scott sits on park bench
Brooks Scott is the founder of Merging Paths Coaching. 
Brooks Scott

The person who recommended the job had told me not to wear a suit and tie. I couldn't bring myself not to wear a suit, so I just skipped the tie. I went to campus and was interviewed for eight hours.

Everyone was surprisingly welcoming. I didn't meet with Mark that day, but I met with the CFO, Mark's executive assistant, people in finance, and a bunch of others. They focused a lot on how I would feel when working there. I've carried that with me as an executive coach now — focusing on how you feel when you're in a conversation. 

Within two hours of the final interview, I'd decided to move to California 

I worked on Zuckerberg's executive protection team for two years. When my manager left for maternity leave, I was put in charge of managing the operations. My job was to fly to locations ahead of time and set everything up before the executive comes in.

It was very high pressure because one mistake could risk someone's life. I was in the background a lot; security people are usually only noticed if things go wrong. There were no pats on the back for doing something right, but mistakes were highly visible. 

I got to travel all around the world. One day, I was in Barcelona and led Mark through a crowd to a meeting room to purchase a really big company. Once he was in and I closed the door, I just stared at a brick wall — for three hours. 

That's when I thought, "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, but it's not this." I wanted to be inside the room asking questions, influencing decisions, and learning.

About six months later, I left Meta

My next role was at Tanium, a cybersecurity company. When I interviewed with the CEO, I told him that I loved my job at Meta and didn't need to leave; I was paid really well and connected to a lot of great people. What I wanted to experience, though, was being next to the executive in these rooms when negotiations are happening. "Once I'm done building your security team," I told him, "I want to transition to something different."

He said we could do it — and he kept his word.

I took the role, and when I was in Japan or London, or anywhere in the States, I got to sit next to him in meetings — watching, listening, and learning. After I set up the security team, I transitioned to facilitating and coaching. I've brought a lot of these learnings with me as an executive coach. 

A colleague recommended I become a coach 

I'd never really heard of executive coaching before, so when a coworker said it, I laughed. But then I took some courses and really loved them. It ended up being the thing that I was born to do, and I love it now. 

Here are three tips that helped me get here: 

  1. Take the risk.  I've never been afraid of risks, but it was nerve-wracking to leave the police because you have a pension and a guaranteed job and life. It was risky to join Meta; at the time it could've been another failed startup. But the risks were definitely worth it in the long run. 
  2. It helps to figure out what you don't want to do. Even when I was unsure what I wanted to do, I knew it wasn't security anymore. I didn't want to feel isolated and disconnected from people; I liked being in situations where people come to me for advice or for guidance in their personal relationships. There was something about that interpersonal communications piece — that's how I found my thing. 
  3. Have tough conversations. Where would your career be if you had all the conversations that you've ever avoided? Where would your personal life be? Have the conversations you're nervous about — it'll be worth it. 

Now I absolutely love my career as a coach

My work now is split in two: I do executive coaching as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Companies fly me out to teach their managers to be better leaders. I've gotten to work with big companies — and I even went back to Meta to do training on navigating sensitive conversations. That was a cool moment. 

But even now, right before I put my hand on the door to walk into a meeting or training, I think back on how I had to close the door on my security role to get to where I am now.