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Career Q&A | March 2023
Layoffs: a Career Development Opportunity
Inspired by someone calling the rash of corporate restructuring the ‘layoff season,’ I realized that this can still be a time of strategy. Instead of putting your head down, hiding, and hoping not to get caught up in the wave, consider your choice to be the path of invisibility or the path of career development.
Reigniting Your Career
I often hear about people who did see the writing on the wall that change was coming to their company. What they did do to prepare? Often, they had done nothing. They reach out to me after the wave of change pushes through, choosing to stay in the confines of comfort for as long as it was an option.
During the time when I transitioned to my natural hair, it was the manifestation of a goal one year in the making because I wanted to limit the impact my hair care had on my budget. It was working out to about $300 a month because every six weeks I would find myself in the salon for a touchup to a straightening relaxer or a tightening to my professional braids. Here is what I learned about rewilding my hair that can now help you in your career:
Commit the time it takes to achieve your goal.
There is a lot of work that goes into becoming an overnight sensation. For me, it took more than a year of letting my hair grow out to get to the point where I knew what the plan was, and I felt comfortable in taking it over. Since there is no guarantee on how much time you have, begin outlining your way forward while there may be less pressure rather than trying to force a plan later.
Research what you need to know to perform the tasks.
I spent 12 months picking hairstyles and reading how to pull them off. The other side of this is that it’s important to share what you know so that others can find their own way forward. I am not sure if I would have had the confidence to care for my own natural hair had I not watched YouTube videos of people doing just that. Decide what skill you need to add to your toolkit and learn best practices from your network. Even better, discover what you have to teach, and begin sharing your expertise.
Decide how you want to accomplish your goal.
For me, I had to pick a hairstyle, for you it may be looking at how you want to inhabit a new family role or new career. Once you decide on a skill, tool, or direction, it can be easier to determine the next steps.
Practice what you need to do to be successful.
I occasionally had to replace a twist to keep my style looking neat. Finding success in each of those practice twists gave me the confidence to take on my entire hairstyle. Once you learn to take a step, inside or outside the same company, it can be easier to run toward your next role.
By establishing and implementing a plan to advance your career you empower yourself to own whatever change comes.
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How to Coach Outside the (Zoom) Box
Turn your camera off.
That’s the secret to coaching outside the “Zoom” box we have found ourselves in since the pandemic. If you continue to work remotely taking a meeting with a standing desk, a treadmill, or simply with your camera off can alleviate some of the fatigue because you are able to move or stand and get the blood flowing.
What I am finding in my practice, whether I am the coach or I am being coached, is that having the camera off and going voice-to-voice is freeing. One client was allowed to sit in their emotions and later admitted that would likely not have happened had we kept our cameras on. Another client was able to move about the room they were in and map out the insights they were sharing as we discussed them, turning the coaching session into a literal work of art.
By the same token, I have learned to ask to have my camera off while I was being coached. My coach expressed gratitude for being free to move around. What this is saying to me is that we can forget that there is more than one way to have an impact.
To be honest, I have been defining inclusive meetings as those that permit me to have my camera off. Yes, it is true that sometimes this is an excuse to hide, but sometimes it is to better listen to what is being said. The pressure to always be ‘on’ can take its toll whether on social media or on camera for the Zoom platform.
Once the pandemic and lockdowns started, I began to realize that I prefer to coach over the phone for a few reasons including that the client can be anywhere, in their car, or walking a trail. This voice-to-voice contact permits me to listen more deeply including wavering words, muffled sounds from hunched posture, and that which is not said.
Unbox Your Coaching
I have identified three boxes that keep clients stuck. If you are feeling uninspired or you are simply ready to ignite a new fire for the work you love, you can explore which box to unpack here.
Want to level up your coaching while in a community? Apply to join the Way Maker Mastermind.
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The Leader in Me Sees the Leader in You
I was born to a woman that handled general-level duties as a civil servant because she provided stability during an uncertain time. This is the reason why I know that there are leaders among us regardless of age, rank, title, or role. Leaders are made for a moment
My mother earned promotions ahead of people with more degrees than a thermometer and exceeded all expectations laid at her feet. She was told to go back and get more education. She took a few college courses and then when the opportunity presented itself, she completed the equivalent of a Master’s degree in 12 months. This is why I know that not having a certificate didn’t mean she couldn’t achieve great things, that paper only meant that others could more easily recognize that she could.
What are you sure you can do if others only give you the chance?
What would it take for you to give yourself that chance?
I was groomed for a role at the start of my career. When I didn’t get the offer, I was told it was because I was a slow learner. The truth was I was asked to do something I was never taught. Within two weeks I was asked to replace The Chosen One, negotiated additional training, and stepped into the role, beginning an Emmy award-winning career. With this, I learned that decisions are made – especially by bosses – with only the information we have on hand.
Later in my career, I was deemed the leader of a crew without a formal title change – now known as quiet promoting – even though all I wanted to do was learn new things and share that gift with everyone else. While it was nice to be recognized for the impact I could have, I knew that the team was already working well, so I asked that this person’s opinion not be shared with anyone else. Too late. That leadership decision led to rumors and innuendo until suspicion sprung up like a dandelion through the pavement and our self-organizing team splintered and scattered in the wind. This is when I learned that some prefer and bestow labels to help them organize the flow of information.
In what ways do you already lead people and projects regardless of the title you’ve been given?
Looking back, I see now that I have led – without rank or title – expeditions into challenging situations only to deliver outcomes no one thought possible. As a Software Trainer, I would go into television stations rumored to be toxic only to have a completely different experience. This is why I know that a situation is not necessarily as dire as others label it because they can only see it from their vantage point.
For me to go into those tough corporate environments and succeed, I first had to fail. I have since discovered that FAIL is an acronym that stands for First Attempt In Learning. During my onboarding, I was asked to train a team on how to operate one feature of a software system. I delivered the teaching as I thought I was supposed to, and by the time the system was deployed, one student asked me why I shared so much information if they didn’t need it. I had no answer for her. That moment taught me to share only the information that was necessary with access to additional resources so that everyone can take their next step in confidence. During my next corporate training situation I got five-star ratings and the students immediately implemented what they learned.
How have those times you thought you failed helped you to be a better leader?
I took this experience with me as I fulfilled a contract that took me from coast to coast and tip to tail across Australia. I faced leaders that didn’t know what they were getting into, so I architected an outline of what was included in the corporate training plan and the intended outcomes. Slowly I could see relief spread across the stakeholders’ faces because everything made more sense. In taking the time to listen and empower them with information, I gained an ally who reached out to other training sites, paving the way for me to be welcomed with less resistance.
While at Microsoft I was given opportunities to present to leaders from high school to the top ranks at international corporations because I adapted to what each group needed, becoming the first person from my crew to present for both the Office Envisioning and Strategic Prototyping teams. What I learned from this experience is that if you can help a group feel seen, you can have more opportunities to speak.
What have you learned by taking on challenging projects?
During an executive summit, I witnessed a group of leaders in dark suits huddled around a kiosk trying to get a glimpse into the future of work. From backstage I was drawn to look only at one woman, seated, wrapped in a green sari. To this day, she represents a true leader who is authentic and not afraid to position themselves differently from the masses.
The leaders I meet now are graduating from boot camps, transitioning between roles, or preparing to level up their careers while balancing between how they see themselves and how others see them. I began writing this career reflection as a way to balance those expectations for myself and honor all the times that I have led or been called to lead. Bosses may have titles and leaders may have people, but it is clear to me now that sometimes these are the same person, and many times they are not.
You are the leader you’ve been waiting for. How does this insight impact how you approach this next chapter in your career?
Posted in Career, Career Development, Life Vision Tagged career, career advice, career development, coaching for women, job hunt, leadership Leave a comment
How to Redirect Career Pressure
While in conversation with a Master Coach they noted that I might be feeling the pressure. My vision is so large that it is quite possible I have lived in the valley of pressure for so long I hadn’t noticed. Then I wrote the word down and realized something…
PRESS + SURE
I am the type of person to press through when I have something I need to get done. At the same time, I recognize that I press when I am sure of my direction or destination. So if I press when I am sure (apply pressure) then when I am not pressing, clearly I am not sure of something (feeling pressed). What is it?
DIRECTION OR DESTINATION
For me, it is a process. Suppose I don’t know the process for getting something done, if you know me, you know I will make one. When I felt trapped in a toxic work environment and the only thing I knew was that I couldn’t stay where I was, I designed a personal career clarity retreat where I could define my own vision for the future or at least identify the signs of career satisfaction so I would know when I had arrived at my destination.
Recognizing that having a direction (not here) or a destination (career satisfaction) is all I need in order to take a step toward my goal, I came to realize that I was missing a complete process (direction) to connect my vision to my goal (a new program launch).
NOT SURE ≠ MOVEMENT
As soon as I identified that my process was incomplete, knowing the importance of a story in creating sustainable change, as I do, I mapped out the beginning, middle, and end of a program I am calling A New Day where I partner with purpose-driven professionals to build an intentional transformation strategy.
HOW WILL YOU HANDLE THE PRESSURE?
I have seen enough of the world to know that I am not alone. That pressure you are feeling, what are you noticing about it? What will you do with that awareness?
Posted in Awareness, Communication, Reflection, Stuck Tagged career advice, Coaching, coaching for women Leave a comment
The Business of Coaching
What’s your business, and who are your customers?
I believe that we have the power to make a difference in ourselves and our world. I am a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with 10+ years of empowering mid-career professionals and leaders in navigating change. While I began by working with career changers, because I was one, my practice is home to visionaries that feel stuck, want more, and are ready to do the work but are unsure how to juggle all the possibilities, responsibilities, and dynamic priorities.
To move those mountains, I help my clients work outside the box of buildings, routines, and expectations through time in nature, creative metaphors, and real talk that helps them to recognize their own power to create the future they want.
By the time people reach mid-career, they are done doing what everyone else wants at the expense of themselves. In this time of recalibration, we co-create an authentic way forward with practical steps that honor both their past experiences and their future goals as part of one sacred whole.
My work is rooted in the stages of self-directed change, journalistic storytelling, and ecopsychology. As I have devoted my life to studying decision-making and empowering the individual, I am keenly aware that that transformation begins with ownership. Ownership begins with embracing what is next. What is next begins with you.
Tell us about yourself
I see myself as a cross-pollinator of ideas because I leverage my background in broadcast journalism, social and ecopsychology, and co-active coaching to create processes and programs that make sense of the world. While I originally classified myself as a career changer, the more I have worked as a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), I have come to realize there is often a single thread that ties even the most disparate career into a neat little package. So instead of a career change, I see it more as a different expression of the same gift.
Coaching, for me, is what ties everything together. I began my career in broadcast journalism, where I learned visual storytelling and marketing, which now helps me promote my business and empower my clients with cohesive personal brands that unify their ‘who’ and their ‘do.’ My work as a software trainer ignited my love for travel and helped me understand that the best way to empower others is to meet them where they are and provide a clear roadmap to where they want to be. Sacred Time, my coaching practice, began truly as structured programs built along career management themes from job search support and retirement to addressing the grief left behind by career traumas like being overlooked for promotion.
In studying ecopsychology in an integrated psychology program, I not only dug deeper into how story helps us move forward or holds us back, but I specifically looked at how wilderness therapy could help us reach the level of transformation we are seeking. With a mission to be a light in the darkness, I am here to illuminate your gift and light your journey.
What’s your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The greatest gift I have given to my business is narrowing the focus from life, career, and wilderness coaching to career coaching. I have even learned to refine my ideal client from anyone who would pay to mid-career women making a career pivot. During this time, I remember feeling deep frustration because I wasn’t getting a lot of work, and no one could explain to me why. It was as if I felt like there should be a single formula, and my last ingredient – keeping the doors open for five years – was finally in place, and I still didn’t see the activity I envisioned.
In the last few years, I have expanded from career coaching to include career services like resume writing, converted the business model from an in-person wilderness walk to remote support that allows my clients to be anywhere in the world, and moved from free consultation calls to dedicated service to those ready to do the work. Lately, my coffers have been filled with referrals, friends, and new clients. In the end, I would say the answer for me has been persistence, preparation, time, a growth mindset, and a commitment to being authentic.
What’s one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing I had to do was trust that I was ready to move from side-hustle to full-time operation. I had been working my business when I was done with my day job so long that I didn’t know how else to be. In so many ways, I can see several steps ahead, but on this one, I didn’t understand how this was going to happen. The truth is, little by little, I experimented and put the systems in place – like project management software and a workflow – so that when I got my first contract, I was ready to make that leap because I could see how it was all going to work.
What are the top tips you’d give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I am now sharing all the things that I have learned on my YouTube channel, Sacred Time Career Coaching, and these have been the most eye-opening tips that my corporate clients have responded to:
- TRUST YOUR GUT. When I began branding my resume reels and job applications, my co-workers laughed at me. Then I noticed they all started doing it. Chances are your instincts are spot on, and those giving you a hard time are just mad that they didn’t think of it first.
- NO CAN MEAN NOT YET. It has been years since my best friend told me that she thinks I am meant to work my own business. That seemed so pie in the sky. What I have come to realize is that I couldn’t see it then because it wasn’t ready; it was incubating. Now instead of me going out event to event, I work by contract and referrals most often.
- GO B2B RATHER THAN JUST B2C. Coaching seems to work best if you don’t need the individual client money coming in. Instead, if you build your foundation with contracts where companies send you clients (not leads), then you do not have to press to sign your next client, you can allow the abundance to find you.
That third tip is the one that seems to be most revolutionary to the new coaches I meet; I know it has been for me.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The most magical thing about coaching is that it is about listening to what clients have to say and letting them choose the way forward for themselves. When there is a sense of frustration, loss, and doubt, it is often because there is something inside us that we are honoring.
Next time you are wondering what you should do, I recommend writing down what you are leaning toward, seek the advice of no more than three trusted others, and then take time to decide what feels like the best route for you. By creating the space for your inner wisdom to be heard and limiting the outside voices, the way forward can feel less muddy, and you will more likely find career satisfaction at the end of that road.
Where can people find you and your business?
How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Work for You
If you’re looking to improve your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s effectively representing your professional brand, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll share some best practices for creating a standout LinkedIn profile. Whether you’re a new grad just starting out, or a mid-career professional looking for a change, following these tips will help ensure that your profile is working for you.
Why LinkedIn Matters
When it comes to job hunting, your LinkedIn profile is your most powerful tool. It’s how recruiters and potential employers find you, learn about your professional brand, and decide whether or not to reach out to you for an interview.
It is important to also know how LinkedIn fits in with your company culture. If your company is active on the social media platform, this could be the way to network, be seen, stand out from the crowd, and level up your career!
Posted in Career, Change, Communication Tagged career change, career development, coaching for women, job hunt, job search, LinkedIn Leave a comment
Job Search Strategy: The First Step Toward Your Dream Job
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale
Before you set out on a new job search or career path it can be helpful to define what success looks like for you so that you can recognize the destination when you see it. The next thing to do is to outline what it takes to get you there. Do you need more training? More information? Targeted connections?
Whether you follow a structured path or create your own, by defining a clear end goal and the steps that lead you in the right direction you can better evaluate the opportunities you encounter.
I have worked with career changers who were targeting data science roles but realized that what they needed for their next role was to be a data analyst. It wasn’t the destination they were looking for, but it was on the career path they outlined for themselves. By the same token, a mid-career data scientist took a job offer after interviewing the staff to make sure the company culture supported professional development. To him, this meant the freedom to move teams, expand roles, or experiment with technology as his interests and talent permitted.
When the right choice for you is to take a step in a direction rather than a giant leap into the unknown or pursue roles to get a foothold in a company so you can later move into your dream position, here are some things to consider:
How supportive is the company culture?
If current employees feel stuck and unsupported, that may not be a place to plant yourself and expect to feel nurtured. If development is encouraged, consider creating a plan that facilitates your own growth. Work with intention, even if that means finding your own mentor inside or outside the company.
Is the job for passion or for pay?
To find career satisfaction means to live in our purpose, but that does not always mean that our passion project is the one that pays us. A balanced life can mean you have a job that pays the bills and a side hustle or volunteer opportunity that is your passion. To make this happen it is important the job you take on allows you to have the time and energy to have a life outside of work.
How can you get the most out of this role?
Working with passion and purpose means aligning what you are doing with your goals. If your goal is to be a senior designer in two years, then one way you can do that is to define what it means to be at the senior level, and plan to gain that experience. This could be anything from owning a project from start to finish, mentoring others, or even increasing your depth of skill and breadth of knowledge so that you can work with minimal supervision. Partner with your manager or mentor to align your tasks with the skills you are looking to develop, or pinpoint opportunities where you can use your skills in wholly new ways.
The beautiful thing about your career is that you get to decide what success looks like from the opportunities you accept to the attention you give it.
“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver