The Topic on Everyone’s Mind This Week

No, I’m not talking about the NYC Pizza Rat (although, gross). Nor am I talking about the 30 pound burrito challenge (although, intriguing).

I’m talking about balance. And before you roll your eyes and say, “That’s impossible,” or “What is she going on about now?” (said in a British accent), hear me out.

First of all, when I say ‘balance’, I don’t mean everything is hunky dory in all aspects of your life. Nor do I mean you are essentially holding a million balls in the air in perfect balance and the strain is killing you. A balanced life shouldn’t feel like a constant struggle. It shouldn’t feel like, “One wrong move and it all comes toppling down- dun dun dun!” It should feel….easy. (And no, not ALL the time, every SECOND, but overall.)

Why am I noticing this topic this week? 

1. It’s literally on every client’s mind. (OK not literally- that’s impossible). Every client I have spoken with so far this week and end of last week has mentioned balance in some way shape or form. Someone I just started working today pinpointed it as her #1 criteria / priority for her life.

2. Social media is abuzz over it. A colleague of mine posted this on Facebook: “Researching full-time jobs and am kind of flabbergasted by the number of companies that require nights, weekends, holidays, and even availability “in December and January with no special time off” (taken word for word out of a job description with a reputable brand). Why is zero work-life balance not only the norm but the standard now?”

49 people ‘liked’ it and there are about a dozen comments so far and counting.

Additionally, whole articles are being written on company culture at places like Google, Zappos and the like and how employee happiness and engagement is paramount.

3. There is a craving for this kind of personal or inner work and development. Whole companies are cropping up over it. (Check out Mindvalley Academy for one such group- maybe a great place to be EMPLOYED at, huh?)

So, with so much interest and intention around having a balanced life (which oftentimes seems to stem from having a balanced professional life rather than the other way around), why are there so many craptastic companies to work for and what can you do about it so you don’t end up at one of those?

1. Ask the right questions. I did this exercise with my 30 Day Bootcamp last week– think of culture questions to ask that are not, “So how’s the culture here?” Things like, “What’s the difference between a good employee in this role and a great one?” can give you a glimpse into whether the company’s values are aligned with yours. “How do you onboard new employees and how do you handle beginner mistakes?” could give you insight into how supportive a company culture is. Pro tip: “We don’t think people make beginner mistakes” or “We hope people don’t make them,” is not the answer you’re aimin’ for.

2. Research! Glassdoor is of course a great tool to see employee reviews, but not every company is on there slash getting feedback from a human you know or know through someone is better. Make sure you have specific questions before talking with someone. Also, know your parameters/non-negotiables before heading in. What will you or won’t you tolerate? Would the job description referenced in my colleague’s post above- long hours and weekends and holidays- be amenable to you? Get specific.

3. Know Your Narrative. Yes, yes, that pesky topic I keep talking about AGAIN. Know your story- where you’ve been and where you’re heading – so that you are only going for companies that are a match for your specific case. A lot of times we end up at crappy companies because it sorta relates, but not really or we’re not sure how it relates, and we don’t pay attention to red flags because we JUST WANNA JOB DAMMIT….you see how it can go. But knowing what you want, what you don’t want and how to craft questions to determine fit will go MILES and MILES toward you finding that balance. If you want to learn more about how we can work on your narrative together, go here. 

4. The Lever Approach. Lastly, let’s incorporate a little of the rest-of-your-life into this post. It’s the lever approach and one I started using recently, albeit a little late. I’ll give you a personal example to demonstrate.

For anyone looking at my life currently on paper, it’s insane. Lots of amazing work, clients, business opportunities- and that’s just work. Some family stuff is taking priority as well as my relationship with my partner. But I don’t feel insane overall. Yea, there are moments when I’m a little rushed, but I gotta say- they’re few and far between.

It’s because other levers in my life are dialed way down for now- namely personal development classes that I like to go to, social engagements and friends. They’ll be there when I’m back! (By the way, the first time i used this lever approach, it was tough to let go, but the benefits are so worth it that it’s easier and easier to do.)

So in closing, I’m not saying, “Follow this recipe and you’ll achieve nirvana and bliss!” but instead, play with some of the ideas above and see what works for you over time- and let me know how it goes!

Want to talk about any of this? Maybe a way to put some of this in motion for you? Sign up to chat for a brainstorm call here. 

 

 

Career Change Lessons: My Day With Magic Mike

Yes, career change people, you read that correctly. Yesterday I went to see Magic Mike.

It was 1:20pm on a Monday. It was only me and one other guy in the theatre and it was cool, quiet and magical, no pun intended.

While the movie was perhaps the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, it was the best decision I could have made for myself.

Because career change (and yes, after 2 years in business, I still consider myself as going through a “career change”) is not easy. Some days flow like a calm and nurturing babbling brook and some days ebb, in the ebbiest of ways. Maybe you had a flurry of initial interest over your experience and resume only to be led down the deep spiraling hole of disappointment as responses dry up and are relegated to a relic of the past….or something like that.

Helping women through the ebby days of their career change and job search and celebrating their best days and wins is why I do what I do, and why I love it. And as I sat in the theatre, watching Michael Strahan in a thong (wait, WHAT?!), I thought of a quite a few lessons that carried into my evening of client calls:

1. Be Who You Are Unapologetically. There’s a ridiculous subplot in the movie where Mike (played by Channing Tatum) convinces the gang to let go of their gimmicky costumes that confined and defined them without their permission. One of the guy’s schtick is a fireman on stage, but he has asthma and a debilitating fear of fire. (I told you this was ridiculous.) Anyway, once the guys let go of the ways society, or in this case, their ex-boss defined them, they were able to be truly unique and themselves.

For those of you contemplating or going through a career change, you can apply this lesson to your journey (yes, really). If a job offer or other opportunity doesn’t sound or feel right to you, it probably isn’t. If you have to compromise who you are to a degree that doesn’t work for you, then pause and think about it before diving in. Bear in mind that you have a say in this career switch-a-roo too.

2. Acknowledge Where You’re At: When I first started my mindfulness training, I was told that simply acknowledging where you’re at and being ok with it is all you can do. “Easier said than done!” I scoffed. But as I’ve developed this muscle, and really allowed myself to feel and experience where I am at in this journey, it has taken a lot of the stress and pressure off. (Not all of it, mind you- I’m not trying to say you will be a levitating Buddha if you do this!)  As you come up against wall #37 in your career change journey, try really experiencing this and taking this on board: “I am where I am right now, and I can’t be anywhere else but here.” It goes a long way to calming the mind and decreasing that blasted ‘comparing oneself to others’ thing we tend to do.

3. Give Yourself a Break. Breaks are key, and at first when I was looking up at the marquis and saying, “Am I really going to spend $15.25 on Magic Mike right now?” I almost didn’t do it, thinking I should run home and clack-clack-clack on my keyboard all day. And look what happened! I wrote this hopefully helpful blog post for my peeps and for myself and I learned some valuable lessons and/or perspective. So, if you’re trying to get something off the ground or are faced with another dead end, stop. It sounds counterintuitive, but doing something for you where you’re learning, growing, relaxing or a combo thereof, can cause synapses in your brain to fire in different ways, giving you a different approach or plan of ‘attack’, making you feel renewed and refreshed to start again when you’re ready.

So now I’d love to hear from you. If you’re feeling any of what I wrote above and wanna talk it out, set up some time to chat here.

A Note About “7 Rejections”

A friend sent me Brian Chesky’s “7 Rejections” post on Medium over the weekend. He basically says that 7 prominent and smart investors passed on investing just $150k (or approximately a 10% stake) into their startup back in 2008, and now that startup is valued at approximately $24billion. That company is AirBNB.

I was struck by the many areas of life where rejection is a risk we take- dating, submitting a story for publication, starting a small local business, applying for jobs, public speaking. And then I thought about what keeps people going- what keeps people in it, and my stream-of-consciousness-during-an-especially-rigorous-glute-exercise-at-barre-class continued from there.

Several of my clients have been told they don’t have what it takes. One without investment banking compliance experience was told it would be difficult. She got her dream job at her dream company in May. Another who had financial analysis experience was told she’d never break into her dream field of healthcare. Now she’s working at a prestigious healthcare system doing…data analysis. Heck, I was pulled aside by my (ex) accountant and told that ‘most coaches don’t make it so I should consider another career path.’

With rejection and naysayers everywhere, what keeps us going? Whether it’s going to yet another networking event to land the job or going on yet another online date to see if there’s a spark, what ultimately keeps us moving, learning, growing, not giving up?

I’m not sure I have the answer, but as I see it, it swirls around two things: the unshakeable instinct that you have something people have just GOT to see- something that will add value- and the grit and tenacity to keep moving. Even if it’s just one small step at a time.

I’ll give you a personal example. From previous jobs (i.e. calling and getting hung up on by countless hedge fund managers) I was paralyzed about picking up the phone and following up with interested potential clients. I’d work myself up into quite the state to get ‘er done and in the end, I think what made me do it was because I believe in what I offer. Just like my client believed she had a ton of relevant experience to offer the compliance world. (And what she didn’t have, she made up for by, for example, taking the CAMS certification course).

So, for those of you who have received 7 Rejections (or more), keep going. You haven’t found your tribe and/or your groove yet. And when you get rejection 1, 5, 10, 14, don’t do that whole negative self talk thing. You’re your biggest ally- don’t turn you against you…And of course, celebrate when you get over that hump with something. Me? I bought some delicious fresh tomatoes and made a delightful summer salsa, which anyone who knows me knows it’s a guilty pleasure.

You CAN mail a pumpkin- Leadership Lessons from Top Women in Advertising-

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

 

And so started a transformational evening last week at The WSDM™, the well-being salon for women I’ve been hanging out at this year. The idea is that it provides a place for people to tell their stories in the hopes of inspiring other women. The result is that there are powerful takeaways, amazing perspective and no “business-y jargon” and platitudes that often happen at your typical industry conference.

So, I’m including 3 of my favorite stories from the event here in the hopes that it will inspire YOU with something you’re currently working through. (By the way, it was so hard to pick just  three- all of the women on the panel were incredible.)

1. The Pumpkin Story: Allison Arden, the VP and Publisher of Advertising Age, informed me that you really can mail almost anything through the USPS. She heard you could mail fruit, for example. Just slap a stamp and address on an orange and it would arrive at your desired destination. So she mailed herself an orange, and a day later she received it. The point of this, really, was to get her to challenge what was really actually possible. In actually undertaking that seemingly small challenge, she opened herself up to what else was possible. So the next day, she was waiting for a client in a lobby of a hotel, and because she was early, she used the time to write on paper an outline for a book she’d had a vague idea about in her head. Then the next day, on a train somewhere, she opened up her laptop and wrote half the book. You see where this is going. A bunch of these steps (and yours could be smaller!) eventually turned into a book deal.

Lesson: Powerful leaders challenge what is possible- not just at work or with the team, but within their own lives.

2. The Bippity Boppity Boo Guy Story: Jennifer Zimmerman, Global Chief Strategy Officer of McGarryBowen, had a presentation coming up with a guy, dubbed Bippity Boppity Boo in her story, who was new-ish to the group. During the run through, he was sweating, stumbling, stuttering– you know, just plain nervous (we’ve all been there!). The head of the group told Jennifer that she was going to have to do the big presentation because no freaking way was that going to fly with BBB. Jennifer, without skipping a beat said, “It’s either both of us, or it’s neither of us- your choice. He’s going to be great, but if you still have reservations, you have the choice for neither of us to be there.” The head of the group backed down and BBB was stellar. It for sure took cajones, and in getting over that cojones threshold, she was able to instill confidence in BBB and he rose to the occasion. And now they’re life long colleague besties who have worked together for years. The end.

Lesson: Letting go of the need to react/swoop in/fix it and instead instilling confidence and allow what happens to happen is a huge mind shift, but when you’re able to be selfless in that way, you’re building life long partnerships and instilling your team with confidence in you and themselves.

3. “We are all humans having a work experience.” Kim Bates, the founder of the WSDM, taught me this. Well, I was already on board and knew it, but she made it real and tangible and a ‘thing’ for me. Kim told a story about her mentor who always wanted to measure things and make things quantifiable and understand the level to which employees were engaged.  And throughout the years, in various matters, Kim would always tell him that we are all humans having a work experience. So when they were trying to figure out how to name a new IT security product so it would appeal to IT guys and gals, they decided to call it something with “Secure” in the name. Why? Because IT people’s biggest fear is a security breach that could cost them their job, which would then impact their ability to take care of their family. The product was a success. See? We’re all humans having a work experience.

Lesson: Being empathetic, while wonderful in its own right, doesn’t only have touchy feely benefits. In this case, it launched a product to success – because the ad agency understood the customer’s inner motivations. 

I could seriously go on and on about the stories and lessons I learned and re-learned last night, but I did want to share three of my top three for any of ya’ll out there grappling with leadership issues. As a former leader in a successful organization, I was reminded of times when I rose to the occasion like these women did and do each and every day, and times when I did not. It’s inspiring to know good leadership, whether in an official job title capacity or just in life, is within all of our collective reach.

Totally Doable Tip of the Week: Let’s Find Your Passion!

angkor wat

exploring one of the passions in Ankgor Wat, 2014

You may have noticed this by now, but most of my writings are inspired by concerns, issues, pain points, opportunities and exciting stuff that my clients are experiencing at the moment. Either that, or things I am working through or experiencing at the moment. Either way, I’m grateful for them because it helps me more universally share those experiences and potential approaches and solutions with all of ya’ll. Win-Win!

So far, this week, it’s about this yearning to find a passion or two and figure out what the heck to do with it in the career realm. It’s also been about this fear of jumping in with two feet and exploring it. “What if I do all this work – that I’m not used to doing, mind you- and nothing comes from it?”

These are all universal feelings, thoughts and fears, and the title of this blog was purposely flippant- it’s not always THAT easy! But, my friends, I am working on something big to not only make it easier, but also FUN. Yes, you read that right- fun. (By the way, I’m in the developing phases of this Fun-fest, so If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments section or take this quick Survey Monkey.)

For now, before I unveil this FUN thing, we are left to waver in the breeze, a directionless compass.

Kidding. For this week’s Totally Doable Tip, I urge you to take ONE step to finding your passion, if you haven’t found it yet. Most of the time, we (read: me) get caught up in trying to figure out what we wanna do because we think we need to figure it out all at once and if we don’t sit down and just.do.it we are a failure. Lemme tell you something- that rarely, if ever, works, and leads to paralysis. Boy, do I know it.

So, here are a couple of practical questions I answered when I was trying to figure out what the frick I wanted to do. I’m asking you to try out 2-3 of them in earnest- no half-arsing it people! I’ll include portions of my actual answers from 2012 below these questions so you can get an idea and hopefully a jumpstart. (My answers were long and rambly in my journal- this cuts to the chase so you can more easily see what I’m getting at- but it’s ok and preferred to go the rambly route at first!)

  • When are the times you have felt most energetic and fully alive? Who were you with? What were you doing?
  • What section of the bookstore do you go to?
  • What articles online or in the paper or a magazine do you tend to dog-ear, save, bookmark, cut out, share, etc?
  • If you had an opportunity to go back to school for anything- don’t think about viability of the field or profession for a second-what field of study would you pursue?
  • If you could take any other profession out for a spin and try it for a month no strings attached, what would you pick?
  • If you were granted 30 minutes on stage at a TED Talk, what would you talk to the world about?

My answers:

  • Working with a mentee just getting started in her career, talking with friends and sister about career development and engagement at work, traveling and exploring new places and cuisines and cultures, being outside, being in NYC or Argentina, when I’m eating a mind blowing meal
  • Bookstore: history, social sciences, contemporary fiction, self help, new releases, wellness, cookbooks
  • Articles: self help, entrepreneurial, career advice, case studies on companies and successful people, travel articles, food articles/recipes, genealogy
  • Archaeology, organizational psychology, anthropology
  • Talent manager, Culture consultant, wellness professional, pilates instructor
  • doing what makes you happy, figuring out what makes and keeps you engaged, the importance of engaged employees, millennials/generations

You’ll notice some ideas not fleshed out (e.g. What did I expect to say, exactly, about ‘millennials’?), some seem random at first blush (archaeology?). But can you see how I could have come to the conclusion eventually to do what I’m doing now?

Clearly there are other factors to consider (how your experiences have colored what you wanna do and what skills you have that you love exhibiting, to name two), but this is a start for sure.

So, what are you waiting for? Use your morning commute if you don’t drive, pull out some paper while you’re waiting at dinner for a friend who’s running late, go into work an hour early and hang out somewhere that is not your desk and do some thinking. This doesn’t have to be drudgery and there shouldn’t be the “I don’t have time” excuse. Use time already given to you, like in the above examples.

Time to complete: 1 hour, or one daily commute, one lunch break at work, or one Sunday morning before you get your Sunday Funday going!