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So Long, Corner Office

Profiles of eight corporate dropouts who turned their backs on well-paying jobs and found simpler lives.

Admit it. You've thought about giving up the office life. You've left your desk for a coffee break and wondered to yourself, "What if I just kept walking?"

You're not alone. Even the chiefs of major companies have not only fantasized about dropping out, some have managed to do it. Take Gerald Levin, who left Time Warner (after its misguided merger with AOL) and opened an alternative health rehab clinic, the Moonview Sanctuary, in southern California. When Tom Freston was ousted from Viacom, he left for remote locations in Asia and Africa, getting his hands into development work rather than looking for another high-flying media perch. Then there's the GE executive who became a Jesuit priest and popular cultural commentator, and the HR director who, saddened by her days spent laying off employees, left the US for Asia and became a traveling yoga teacher.

Here, Minyanville brings you profiles of some brave corporate dropouts who turned their backs on well-paying jobs and found simpler, more meaningful lives. Click through our gallery to find out how and why they made the leap.

Petra Cooper
  • © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2010.
McGraw Hill Publisher Follows Nose, Finds Cheese
Petra Cooper had good reason to ditch her job running a $47 million business for a dairy.
By Marissa Carl
Gerald Levin
  • Photo by Kathy Willens/AP
Time Warner Chief Takes Life Lessons to Rehab Center
Gerald Levin dropped out of the corporate world to open Moonview Sanctuary, an "alternative" facility. 
By Lisa LaMotta
James Martin
  • © Fr. James Martin
GE Exec Takes Vow of Poverty
James Martin left the lucrative credit business to become a Jesuit priest.
By Diane Bullock
Tom Freston
  • Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris
Viacom CEO Leaves MTV for Bono
Tom Freston was tracked down by U2 frontman to assist in global humanitarian campaigns.
By Mike Schuster

Erin Callan
  • © Lehman Brothers
Wall Street's Most Powerful Woman Chooses Beach Life
Erin Callan, once Lehman's CFO, is now keeping a low profile.
By Megan Barnett
Bobby Sager
  • © 2010 The Sager Foundation
Financial "Undertaker" Trades Privilege for Philanthropy
Bobby Sager made more than he could spend, so now he spends his time in refugee camps and slums.
By Josh Lipton
Lisa Hoffmann
  • © Lisa Hoffmann
Former HR Director Quits Firing People
Lisa Hoffmann decided downward dogs suited her better than layoffs.
By Danielle Sonnenberg
Mark Rubin
  • © Mark Rubin
Electronics Exec Goes From Speakers to Sculptures
Mark Rubin quit selling plugs and cables to create wood carvings and wall hangings.
By Justin Rohrlich
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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