Career

Podcast Replay: Tame the Advice Monster with Michael Bungay Stanier

Today I'm thrilled to re-share my podcast episode with Michael Bungay Stanier, whose book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever is celebrating its one-year anniversary! 

If you haven't read the book yet, now's the time to grab it! From March 1 to 3 The Coaching Habit eBook will be available for purchase for just 99 cents on Amazon. 

There's also an awesome contest running from March 8 to 24. In honor of his famous haiku (mentioned below), Michael is inviting other influencers to submit their best coaching wisdom in just 17 syllables — their own coaching haiku. You can learn more about the contest and prizes here. 

And here's my own coaching haiku for some inspiration:

Listen deeply. Dig
for what's not said. Flicker of
Joy becomes fireworks.

Podcast Replay: Tame the Advice Monster with Michael Bungay Stanier

We have all had the experience of sharing something that’s on our mind with a friend, family member, partner, or co-worker — then bristling in frustration or quiet defeat as they jump straight into trying to solve our problem with their brilliant advice.

What’s the alternative? Curiosity and a few simple coaching questions. That what I dig into on this Pivot Podcast with Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever! Not just for managers and coaches, today’s conversation will help all of us become better black-belt listeners. Written as a haiku, Michael’s message is:

Tell less and ask more.
Your advice is not as good
As you think it is.

    More About Michael

    Michael was banned from his high school graduation for “the balloon incident,” was sued by one of his Law School lecturers for defamation, gave himself a concussion digging a hole as a laborer, was fired on his first shift as a garage attendant and has held a number of jobs where he had little or no impact.

    Luckily, there’s also been some upside. He is the author of a number of successful books including: End Malaria (which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Malaria No More), Do More Great WorkGet Unstuck & Get GoingGreat Work Provocationsand most recently The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever. He is also the founder and Senior Partner of Box of Crayons, and was the first Canadian Coach of the Year. His real success in becoming a Rhodes Scholar and going to Oxford was meeting and marrying a Canadian who refuses to take him too seriously. 

    Topics We Cover

    • Why coaching and today’s podcast isn’t just for “life coach-y types”
    • 7 key questions to guide a coaching conversation
    • How you can apply these questions to coach effectively in ten minutes or less
    • What pick-up lines have to do with coaching and The Kickstart Question
    • The best coaching question in the world (and it’s only three words long!)
    • Why laziness is a benefit to you and the person you are talking to
    • The importance of getting comfortable with silence; why it is challenging and the reasons silence is actually a measure of success 
    • No more fake active listening! 
    • The benefit of sticking to questions that start with   instead of why
    • The pitfalls of trying to get more data (asking questions for your sake) versus getting curious instead
    • Avoid rushing to action; even how questions aren’t as important as exploring the what 
    • Stop solving the wrong problems and get to the heart of things with The Focus Question: what’s the real challenge here for you?
    • How the Drama Triangle (Victim, Persecuter, Rescuer) can inform conversations (and relationships) that have veered off course
    • How to pull yourself out of trying to be helpful to so many people
    • Why we should stop humblebragging about being “good busy” and “working smarter, not harder”
    • Combatting those habits with The Strategic Question: if you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
    • Double-loop learning and The Learning Question: what was most useful for you?

    Podcast: How to Tame the Advice Monster

    Press play on the embedded player below or listen on iTunesSoundCloud, or Overcast:

    Resources Mentioned

    As Michael says at the end of his book,

    The real secret sauce here is building a habit of curiosity. Find your own questions, find your own voice. And above all, build your own coaching habit.”

    Motivational Mindsets Part 3: Write Your Own Permission Slip

    Written by Lisa Lewis

    If you read my previous post on motivational mindsets and thought to yourself, "Yeah, letting myself get angry is definitely NOT my issue," then this article is for you.

    Prior to becoming a career coach and getting my Pivot certification, I had a ten-year corporate communications career that I was damn good at. But I was completely frustrated with it, because it felt soul-less for me.

    When various bosses would ask me to work on Thanksgiving day or jump right back into work after I learned my grandfather died, I could feel a rage blackout coming on. Something inside of me said, "There has got to be a better way."

    I felt frustrated that I wasn't bringing my full self to work and letting that anger seep over into the rest of my life, but I hadn't yet given myself permission to truly explore what a change might look like. Because I was so busy being mad at myself for not having my perfectly crafted career plan executed with flawless perfection, I was spinning in anxious circles of frustration rather than moving forward.

    Through the disappointment of not getting it right the first time, I had painted myself into a corner where I couldn't win: I was a failure for being in a job that didn't fit me, and I was a failure for considering a change. 

    And while I knew I was desperate for forward progress, I wouldn't let myself step into the role of the hero in my own career because I wasn't done beating myself up for what felt like "failing" in my current path. 

    In order to move forward, the self-abuse had to stop. 

    I needed to forgive myself for being human — and for not being a robot who could keep doing the same tasks forever without wanting a change. 

    I needed to apologize to myself for creating an expectation that I couldn't or shouldn't make a career shift. No matter how much it cost, the price of my education and the time I'd invested in the field wasn't worth sacrificing happiness and fulfillment for the next 40 years of my career. 

    More than anything, I needed a set of empowering, loving beliefs that would let me take action and move forward, even if I kept making mistakes and getting things wrong.

    If you're experiencing an inner conflict of your own where anger or frustration is holding you back, this exercise will remind you that while you're never going to get it 100% right, not letting yourself take a chance is 100% wrong.

    Write yourself a permission slip.

    Remember when you needed a parent's signature to go on adventures in grade school? You may feel like you need permission to explore change in your life and career as well. 

    However, in a stark contrast to when you were a minor, you do not need anyone's permission to make a change in your life except your own. In fact, holding out for permission from others is often a reason why we end up in frustrating career situations in the first place. 

    If you want it, you deserve to give yourself the opportunity to go get it. So grant yourself permission to start today. 

    Click here to save your own copy of this permission slip in Google Docs!

    Dear me,

    I have been doing work that doesn't feel like it fits me or gives me the opportunity to fully use my gifts for ___ years, ___ months, ___ weeks, and ___ days now.

    I forgive myself for any negative feelings I have around this situation, because I know I made the decision to start doing this work because it made sense at the time. Back then, I wanted to honor my needs for ________ [financial security, feeling like I was advancing in my title, working for an organization that felt really cool, pleasing my parents, working in a job that matched my university degree, etc.]

    However, I've grown into an even more talented and aware person, and as part of that process, I've outgrown my current job. Because I value growth and learning, "outgrowing" a job is to be expected and welcomed because it will naturally happen throughout my life. 

    For the sake of my mental, emotional and physical health, I must make a change.

    Change can be scary, and it's easy to find reasons to avoid it. But change is incredibly renewing, restorative, and healthy, which is why I am actively seeking it out in my life right now. 

    As part of the coming transition, I hereby grant myself complete and unlimited permission:

    • For a transition to truly happen (!)
    • To let go of my belief I should completely control the outcome
    • To make mistakes on this journey, because mistakes are the best way to learn
    • To be a different person than I was last year 
    • To get to know exactly who I am right now, including the evolution of my values and needs
    • For this change to take longer than expected
    • For this to be even faster than I can imagine
    • To prioritize "not disappointing myself" over "not disappointing others"
    • To invest time, money, or energy into activities or ideas because they would be fun
    • To intentionally surround myself with supportive people
    • To create the time for this by cutting out or minimizing the activities and people that are holding me back

    Giving myself full permission and wholeheartedly committing to change in my life is critically important right now because ________ [Write down every single reason you can think of. In moments of fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, or temporary setbacks, this list is going to be your inspiration and motivational lifeboat to keep you afloat.] 

    I grant myself permission to pursue a dream and come up short. It's more satisfying to shoot for the moon and land among the stars than to fail to launch. I would never forgive myself if I don't give it a shot. 

    And, perhaps most importantly, I grant myself permission to be successful beyond my wildest dreams.

    Success requires changes both big and small, and I know that to live the life I'm called to live, I can't let a fear of change paralyze me any longer. 

    Sincerely,
    (Your name) 

    As Jenny says so brilliantly on her podcast, "If change is the only constant, let's get better at it." Giving yourself permission and freedom to navigate change is a great first step. 

    I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
    What do you need to grant yourself permission to do?  


    Workshop: Crafting Your Career Vision with Lisa Lewis

    I'm excited to share that I will be hosting a workshop on Crafting Your Career Vision on Tuesday, February 7 at 3pm ET with the Momentum Community!

    In this webinar, I'll walk participants through a sequence of exercises to help them map out the elements of their professional and personal life that are the most motivating, energizing, and inspiring – and use those data points as a springboard to craft a personalized career vision to help them map what’s next. 

    To join this workshop, sign up for Momentum! In addition to the Crafting Your Career Vision workshop, you'll also be able to access all of Jenny's courses and workshops, ask Jenny anything in bi-weekly Q&A calls, and connect with other smart, generous, creative people. I'd love for you to join us.


    P.S.: Be sure to check out part 1 of this series on motivational mindsets, and part 2 about using anger as motivation! 


    Lisa Lewis is a career coach whose strength is working 1-on-1 with ambitious people in their 20s and 30s to help them clarify and achieve their goals. She is the go-to coach for multi-passionate millennials to help them re-discover, prioritize and honor their values in both work and life. Check out Lisa's video intro and sign up for a Pivot Coaching Jumpstart with Lisa here

    Motivational Mindsets Part 2: What Is Your Anger Telling You?

    Written by Lisa Lewis

    Beyond victim mentality, there's another key difference between the people who take action and change their lives, and those who stay stuck in the same circumstances month after month.

    People who get mad take action

    Anger is one of the quickest and most powerful ways to elicit immediate change from yourself or others. While an uncomfortable and unpleasant emotion, it has an adaptive, survival-based purpose: it's a bodily signal that something needs to be changed.

    Anger is often called the emotion of justice: it tends to appear when your beliefs or values have been violated. The presence of anger also indicates a need to release outward and communicate your needs to another person in order to change a situation. 

    Anger has a physiological experience component as well. You don't just "think" you're angry, you also feel it. Bodily changes can include elevated heart rate, quickness of breath, increases in blood pressure, clenched jaw, muscle tension, furrowed brow, and more. This is your body's way of physically preparing you to take immediate action. 

    "The person who is angry at the right things and toward the right people, and also in the right way, at the right time and for the right length of time is morally praiseworthy." —Aristotle

    There are plenty of reasons that anger, instead of being viewed as a vehicle for justice and change, is seen as threatening and harmful. Displays of anger that don't reflect emotional maturity can be either rageful and destructive, or silent and manipulative. Neither of those anger manifestations are desirable or optimally effective at changing your circumstances while preserving the emotional health of those around you.
     
    Because of these risk factors, displaying any anger can be seen as a sign of "losing control" or being "overly emotional"—two shaming labels that imply we should limit our emotional spectrum and only externally express the more socially acceptable emotions of happiness, sadness, or fear.

    However, internalizing or suppressing anger has harmful negative physical, emotional and mental consequences—and staying in a bad job and angering situation can compound those consequences. 

    If you've been feeling dissatisfied in your career, let yourself get mad about it. Find a quiet space where you can be alone. If it feels safe and appropriate to do so, help yourself re-experience the feeling of anger by listening to angry music or reflecting on moments where you've been particularly pissed off.

    When you're ready, think about the things that make you really mad about your current job situation. Write down a list of every reason you are angry, frustrated, annoyed, vengeful, or defensive about work. 

    Once you have this list, ask yourself how to harness this emotional power and let it out in ways that will be healthy and helpful for you. Is looking at this list the trigger you needed to start looking for a new job? Do items on this list mean that you owe your boss a few pieces of direct feedback that you've never articulated? Are there places you need to stand up for yourself because a coworker treated you disrespectfully?

    Pair your mad list with your hero mindset, and challenge yourself to take action to address at least one item from your list today. Your happiness and satisfaction could depend on it.  

    Workshop: Crafting Your Career Vision with Lisa Lewis

    I'm excited to share that I will be hosting a workshop on Crafting Your Career Vision on Tuesday, February 7 at 3pm ET with the Momentum Community!

    In this webinar, I'll walk participants through a sequence of exercises to help them map out the elements of their professional and personal life that are the most motivating, energizing, and inspiring – and use those data points as a springboard to craft a personalized career vision to help them map what’s next. 

    To join this workshop, sign up for Momentum! In addition to the Crafting Your Career Vision workshop, you'll also be able to access all of Jenny's courses and workshops, ask Jenny anything in bi-weekly Q&A calls, and connect with other smart, generous, creative people. I'd love for you to join us.

    P.S.: See part 1 of this series on motivational mindsets here, and be on the lookout for part 3 in the coming weeks!   


    Lisa Lewis is a career coach whose strength is working 1-on-1 with ambitious people in their 20s and 30s to help them clarify and achieve their goals. She is the go-to coach for multi-passionate millennials to help them re-discover, prioritize and honor their values in both work and life. Check out Lisa's video intro and sign up for a Pivot Coaching Jumpstart with Lisa here

    Motivational Mindsets Part 1: Be the Hero of Your Career

    Written by Lisa Lewis

    If you're feeling unfulfilled at work this year and are frustrated about it, you're not alone: a recent Gallup poll shows that only 30% of employees are engaged in their jobs.

    The idea that 70% of the nation's employees are not engaged is staggering, but not surprising. How often have you said or heard the following in your office?

    "My boss never listens to my ideas."
    "I'm getting micromanaged on every project I'm supposed to manage."
    "I keep getting passed over for promotions."

    "I don't see a path forward to keep growing here."

    These kinds of challenges will inevitably come up in your work life. The key is how you approach these challenges, for your mindset can greatly affect your health, wealth and happiness. Do you see these tests as a gift and opportunity for growth that's happening "for" you, or do you interpret these events as completely outside your control and react to life happening "to" you?

    The decision to be the hero or the victim is a critical one. Heroes see everything as an opportunity, take action when others sit back, and seek out personal growth opportunities hungrily. Victims complain and pay lip service to wanting things to be different, but are unwilling to take responsibility and make it happen.

    You have the ability to be radically free from a victim mentality. You can create your own reality each day, instead of reacting to it.

    What would change for you if you decided to be the Hero in your own life story?

    Imagine: our hero is sitting on the couch after a brutal day at work, having a dinner of box wine and Spaghetti-os, binge-watching season one of Quantico on Netflix...again. 

    Suddenly, the episode comes to an end and our hero has a choice: either continue to watch and become numb to how things have been going, or "flip" on the Hero switch and ask: "This situation is happening for me for a reason. This day isn't over yet. What can I do today to use these frustrating feelings as motivational fuel to make a change in my life?"

    The choice that makes for better movie drama also makes for a more fulfilling life.

    It's not that Netflix and box wine are bad—but using them as a crutch to avoid making scary and important changes in your life is not letting yourself live the life you were meant to have.

    As you're reviewing your outlook for the year ahead, ask yourself: where am I being the victim in my life right now? Is it with my boss, my significant other, or my mom? Is it with my roommates, my health, or my finances? Where have I been quick to complain, and slow to take action to improve myself or the situation?

    If you've identified an area of focus, ask: what if I were the hero of a movie and the audience is hanging on my every move, waiting to see what I do next. What would I do to keep the plot moving?

    There's a reason movies are made about people taking action instead of people paralyzed by fears, worries, and doubts. It isn't that the action-takers don't have them, but they feel the fear and do it anyway. Fear has a much harder time stopping someone who is already moving.

    What do you need to do in the movie of your life? Challenge yourself to do it right now. This day isn't over yet, and you're meant to have a life you love.

    Workshop: Crafting Your Career Vision with Lisa Lewis

    I'm excited to share that I will be hosting a workshop on Crafting Your Career Vision on Tuesday, February 7 at 3pm ET with the Momentum Community!

    In this webinar, I'll walk participants through a sequence of exercises to help them map out the elements of their professional and personal life that are the most motivating, energizing, and inspiring – and use those data points as a springboard to craft a personalized career vision to help them map what’s next. 

    To join this workshop, sign up for Momentum! In addition to the Crafting Your Career Vision workshop, you'll also be able to access all of Jenny's courses and workshops, ask Jenny anything in bi-weekly Q&A calls, and connect with other smart, generous, creative people. I'd love for you to join us.

    P.S.: Be on the lookout for parts 2 and 3 on motivational mindsets in the coming weeks! 


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    Lisa Lewis is a career coach whose strength is working 1-on-1 with ambitious people in their 20s and 30s to help them clarify and achieve their goals. She is the go-to coach for multi-passionate millennials to help them re-discover, prioritize and honor their values in both work and life. Check out Lisa's video intro and sign up for a Pivot Coaching Jumpstart with Lisa here

    Is Hybridpreneurship for you? Fluidity and Opportunity in the New World of Work

    Hello friends! I’m popping in today with a short video hello on one of my favorite topics, how to be agile in our increasingly fluid career landscape. As many of you have heard me say: careers are no longer linear, like a ladder, but rather fully customizable, like a smart phone. It’s up to you to download apps for different skills and interests that will help you feel fulfilled.  

    One of the skills that is increasingly helpful in our project- and gig-based economy is an entrepreneurial spirit—the ability to ride out uncertainty and come up with innovative solutions that make a positive impact on others’ lives and businesses—but that doesn’t mean you have to fly totally solo either. 

    I was excited when Aflac approached me to weigh in on the subject of intrapreneurship.

    In today's video I cover:

    • An emerging trend of what I'm calling hybridpreneurship as a bridge to business-building
    • The pros and cons of the hybridpreneur model
    • The importance of a great support network, no matter which route you choose
    • How to move fluidly between both
    • How to become even more comfortable with uncertainty

    Watch: Jenny Blake on Hybridpreneurship

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments:
    What do you think about this hybrid model of entrepreneurship? Is it something you'd try?
    If you are already doing it, I would love to hear how it’s going!

    This post is brought to you by Aflac. I'm a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Aflac agents are independent agents and are not employees of Aflac.
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    About Jenny

    Jenny Blake is the author of LifeAfter College and the book PivotShe is a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its 9th year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

    What I Learned One Year Later: What Drives Work Happiness

    Written by Davis Nguyen

    Last week marked a full year since I started my first full-time job at Bain. Though I’ve had jobs in high school and college, I always considered myself a student first and an employee second. To celebrate my one year anniversary, I took time to reflect on the largest lessons I’ve learned the past 12 months. 

    One of those lessons was learning what drove my happiness at work. 

    And it came down to this:

    Doing work that pushes you to grow while feeling supported 

    The way Bain operates is we work on projects on average 3 to 6 months at a time for our client companies. These projects vary from figuring out which country a company should launch its products to figuring out how a company can save a billion dollars. 

    I’ve had seven different projects since starting a year ago and what I’ve learned in all these different environment is what makes the time pass and satisfaction high is having work that pushes my growth while feeling supported along the way.

    If you are doing work that pushes you to grow, you are constantly learning and feeling immersed. Time passes by quickly. Compare this to doing a task that is routine and mundane: an hour feels like an entire day. And if you are doing work while feeling supported, you enjoy being where you are and challenging yourself to grow. 

    The type of work you’re asked to do day in and out will change. Some days will make you feel so lucky to be where you are; other days will make you want to quit. But what drives happiness is feeling as though you are being challenged without being too stretched, and having people who care about you. The work can be tough, the hours can be long, but with supportive people the experience is more enjoyable.

    This lesson is one of the twelve largest learnings one year out of school. You can find the other lessons here.


    Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

    How to Make the Most of the Last Three Months of the Year

    Written by Marisol Dahl

    The Sun is setting earlier, the days are getting chillier, and the Halloween candy that has taken up residence in your house is just a hint of all the holiday celebrations to come.

    There’s so much going on. And that means it’s really really easy to write off the next three months. Q4 is often considered a “lost quarter” in terms of work and productivity, especially if we have the promise of a shiny New Year just around the corner.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. The key to successful quarterly planning is to not treat each quarter like all the others. It’s important to take into account the time of year, acknowledge where you are in your life/career/business, and gauge your productivity levels moving forward. You have to look at the big picture, and set realistic expectations for yourself.

    4 Ways to Make Q4 Awesome

    1. Tie up loose ends.

    What one or two things have you been resolving to do forever but just can’t seem to finish? Q4 is a great time to clear the decks and wrap up all those projects and to-dos that always seem to get pushed to the back-burner. You’ll thank yourself when the New Year rolls around :) Tying up loose ends is also a great goal for Q4 especially if you are wary of taking on completely new projects.

    2. Debrief on the past year.

    Jenny and I love having debrief sessions right after major initiatives (like a program or book launch!). It’s a great way to acknowledge accomplishments and identify areas for improvement, and we always walk away aligned on a few solid things we want to focus on for the next few months.

    In your debrief, choose an area of your life (work, family, relationships, etc.). Identify three things you did well, three things you’d do differently, and three things you’d like to celebrate. Feel free to add any questions to you debrief process, and repeat for as many “life areas” you’d like to review.

    3. Focus on relationships.

    This is a great focus for Q4, since this time of year is already very relationship-oriented. Instead of seeing the holidays as time and productivity-sucks, use them as an “excuse” to get in touch and open up opportunities for stronger connection and collaboration.

    This is a natural time to check in with your extended family, old classmates, former colleagues, and any other business contacts you’d like to keep in touch with—and it won’t be awkward since this is one of the most social seasons of the year.

    4. Do sprints.

    If you look ahead at your calendar, you might notice pockets of time that aren’t as conducive to work as others. Maybe you’re traveling, taking time off for a holiday, or have a lot of commitments clustered over a few days.

    Use your schedule as an indicator of when it’s time to hustle, and when it’s time to let it flow. Instead of trying to evenly pace your work over the next three months, identify a few periods of time where you can do “sprints”—times where you can kick focused work into high gear and make a lot of progress in a short period of time. When you’re “off-sprint,” enjoy the time to celebrate what you achieved and get much-needed rest.

    Join Us for the 5-Day #PIVOTsprint — Starts 10/10!

    We’re excited to announce the first ever #PIVOTsprint, kicking off on October 10! This is a 5-day kickstart for you to map what’s next, whether you are pivoting within your current role or business, starting a side-hustle, getting unstuck on a major project, or cookin’ up an even bigger life change.

    The week of prompts will walk you through the four-stage Pivot Method in—you guessed it!—four days, with some extra reflection at the start and end. Sign up here to join the#PIVOTsprint, and invite your friends for some added accountability!


    About Marisol Dahl

    Marisol graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and brand strategy. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

     

    My Passion Failed Me

    Written by Melissa Anzman

    I have a confession to make… it’s something that I’ve alluded to in the past, maybe even said it in different words, but it’s time to come clean. My “dream job,” the thing I was most passionate about, the thing I built my business around… sucked in reality.

    Let me explain a bit more.

    For ages, I kept hearing the advice: follow your passion. “When you do something you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” And various other iterations of the passion is awesome advice.

    First I agonized over what the heck “finding my passion” meant… and how to go about doing that. I had always approached work as following opportunities and leveraging my strengths or growing my skills. I didn’t understand how passion should be incorporated into that. But I kept searching and finally “found my passion.” Or maybe, what my ideal job is.

    I spent time figuring out what my ideal day looked like, listing out all of my skills, what I did and didn’t want in my future career, and so on. And all answers pointed to me being my own boss. If you know me, that’s not a far stretch.

    So I opened a career coaching business… and felt burned out within a year. It’s not that I didn’t like what I was doing or the people I was working with it, it’s that it felt like a J-O-B again. And my default with that feeling is, “If I’m going to work in a J-O-B, I may as well go back to corporate and get a high paying job that makes me feel the same way as I do now.”

    Not the right mindset, I’ll be the first to admit. But I have this weird career-quirk, maybe it’s a personality quirk, I’m not sure. But when I feel like I’m “in a job,” I am MISERABLE. That’s not me being overly dramatic, it feels so taxing and awful and… miserable. Everything else in my life suffers to.

    And I felt lied to – I followed my passion, I created a business based around it, and within a year, that same corporate drone misery set-in. Again.

    So I followed the next shiny object – another passion of mine. Hey, follow your bliss, right? Built another company around that passion and thought the problem was solved.

    But of course, the same thing happened. I hit my burnout point or “misery level”… and was left feeling stuck and like a huge failure (even though I had officially created two successful businesses!).

    Why am I telling you this? First, to let you know that if you’re feeling the same way, you’re definitely not alone. Sometimes your passions don’t pan out as a business or career choice. It’s not you, you’re not failing in some way, you’re not defective (like how I felt). Also, to let you know that passions don’t have to be forever things. And sometimes, when you build your career around your passion, it kills it.

    Of course I keep pivoting to new paths and ideas, trying to find the intersection of my skills, my “passion,” and what people will pay me for. Or better yet, how I can build something that has a shorter shelf-life, but continues to move me forward on my path.

    Oh, and that “passion stuff”… I’ve started to look at it as things I like doing. Not what gets me out of bed. Not what is an awesome hobby. But what I wouldn’t mind doing for work.

    Maybe follow your passion was the worst advice I’ve ever gotten – but I’ve learned that passion flame outs, don’t equate to failure. And more important – for me, passion needs to stay in my side projects/hobbies. Not the center focus of my business (unless I’m ready to explore a new passion!).   

    About Melissa

    Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her@MelissaAnzman.

    9 Questions You Need to Ask About Your Career

    Written by Paul Angone

    Do you have big questions about your career? (or lack thereof)

    Searching for a career is more than just finding a job, it’s about finding a place to call home where you can thrive and grow.

    I believe it should matter that you want your work to matter.

    You will spend more time working than you will anywhere else. Don’t you think it should feel like a good fit, instead of something that’s forced? 

    If you’re always trying to kill time at work, what does that say about the way you’re spending your life?

    If you’re struggling with your current career, are confused about the direction it’s heading, or just want to re-confirm you’re on the right one, here are nine questions you need to ask.

    9 Questions You Need to Ask About Your Career

    1. Are the people who have obtained success in your career path, you know, actually happy?

    When you look at the higher ups in your field of work, the people who have really made it, are they happy? Are they living a life they enjoy or are they doing just the opposite?

    As I first wrote in twentysomething problems, if the thought of doing your bosses job 15 years from now makes you throw up a little, then maybe that’s a sign you’re in the wrong job.

    2. The moment right before you enter into your day’s work, how do you feel?

    Tomorrow, right before you begin your work, pause, ask yourself this question, and see what you say. Are you excited? Anxious? Overwhelmed?

    You might be surprised that you find yourself thrilled to begin another day of work. That’s a great sign! Or maybe you notice that dread is slowly wrapping its fingers around your neck?

    How you feel the moment before you begin your day will tell you a lot about how you will feel when your day ends.

    3. What’s your Dread/ Tolerate/ Love breakdown?

    Let’s make a chart! This will be fun!

    Look at a typical work day. Break down each hour. From email, to meetings, travel, and then when you’re actually plugging away at the work you’re supposed to be doing.

    Looking at your breakdown, how many hours would you place in each category – Dread, Tolerate, and Love.

    Now take your hour breakdown and make it into a pie chart. Does this pie chart make you nauseous or happy? If your day is filled with more dread than love, is there a way you can tackle more projects in your “Love” category?

    Is there a way to spice up some of those Tolerate hours to make them fit better within your wheelhouse? Or is this career taking up permanent residence in the Land of Dread.

    Define what you love about your job and then refine your job to do more of what you love. 

    4. Or do you feel you’re full throttle-ly (that’s a word, right?) employed in a crappy job and it would take an act of God to help you enjoy it?

    A crappy job can feel like a black hole — it sucks and feels impossible to escape.

    Yes, working a crappy job is a twentysomething rite of passage. But how do we make it smell a little better?

    The key to working a crappy job, and then leveraging that job into a better one, is to find and hone your One Thing.

    Find and focus on the One Thing you like about this job.

    Then do that one thing even better than before. Grow your skill-set there. Learn from co-workers who do that One Thing well.

    Make that One Thing your crappy job trampoline, bouncing you to greater heights.

    Your twenties are about putting in the work now so that you can enjoy your work later. 

    Too many of us want to escape our crappy jobs before we’ve grown in a skill-set that we can leverage into a better opportunity. If you leave your crappy job without learning and growing, chances are another crappy job awaits.

    5. Does studying, researching, and becoming more proficient in your career give you energy or drain it?

    Does learning about your industry or craft give you life or take from it?

    If becoming a master of your craft is something you’re avoiding, it’s either time to fully dive in or it’s time to pick a new craft.

    6. Does this career path create the life you want?

    Sometimes you can have an amazing career, but the wake from it is choppy and uneasy.

    Do you love your job, but it’s pretty much a given that you’re working 70 hour weeks? And your boss works 80. Or maybe your career is filled with purpose and passion, yet it doesn’t really pay the bills? Basically, what’s most important to you? If you’re not sure, maybe start with these 11 questions every twentysomething needs to ask and then come back here.

    It’s a strange paradox when you love your job, but you don’t love the lifestyle it creates.

    Choose a healthy life, not just a successful career. 

    This might mean you have to make a difficult decision about the kind of life you want to live. But I promise it will be easier to make that choice now, than when a house, spouse, and a few kids are in the picture.

    7. Are you doing work that matters? Do you believe in it? Should you believe in it?

    Boomers and Millennials especially sometimes find themselves at a disconnect when it comes to career choices.

    And it seems whether or not you should have purpose and meaning in your career is at the heart of the debate.

    I believe it should matter that you want your work to matter. 

    For many twentysomethings, they are more focused on finding a job filled with purpose and passsion, than a healthy paycheck.

    As a recent Barna study on Millennials states: “When it comes to work and career, more than anything this generation wants to be inspired. Finding a job they are passionate about is the career priority Millennials ranked highest.”

    For me personally, doing something that makes an impact in a meaningful way was a number one priority for me. It was a non-negotiable. And it’s compelled me to make hard choices away from comfort and job security. It’s led me through seasons of unemployment and utter leanness. And it’s meant a lot of early mornings and late nights working at a dream, before I went and worked at my work.

    This path towards meaning has not been easy, but I love where it’s led me.

    8. What are the top skills that you currently using and growing at your work? Are those skills you want to be harnessing and focusing on?

    Write down the top 3-5 skills you’re using and developing at work? Or if you’re not working, the top skills you’d like to be developing.

    Are those skills you want to be developing? What deeper values are those skills tied to?

    I’ve found that many people get stuck in their jobs because they are doing something they find success in, yet they feel this undercurrent of discontent and frustration because the skills they’re using are tied into anything deeper.

    Success in your skill-set alone is not your purpose. Your skills should be infused in pursuing something purposeful, but your skills are not your purpose in and of themselves.

    Sometimes what we’re good at can become a comfortable trap from living a life away from our true purpose because we’re using skills apart from what we think is important — our “why” – our full Signature Sauce.

    9. Do you even want a career?

    Career sounds stuffy and inescapable like getting lost in the back of your Aunt Martha’s closet.

    The world is flat now with the ability to work anywhere, on anything, at anytime. I’m not sure the standard ideas and concepts behind a linear career are completely relevant any longer.

    I don’t think our generation will as readily climb the ladder. Our generation will swim from island to island, picking up necessary skills and experiences as we travel towards our Career Promised Land.

    What do these questions say about your career? If it looks like it might be time to make a change, make sure you grab Jenny Blake's new book Pivot to help you navigate the next steps. 

    About Paul Angone

    Paul Angone is the author of All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator ofAllGroanUp.com, a place for those asking “what now?” Snag his free ebook on the 10 Key Ingredients to Finding Your Signature Sauce and follow him at @PaulAngone.

    My Favorite Thing About Being Self-Employed

    Written by Marisol Dahl

    Just about a year ago I decided to stop my search for a traditional full-time job.

    I was just three months out of college, had turned down two job offers, and had spent the summer going on a handful of interviews. And I was already working with Jenny and other small businesses, helping them manage their businesses day-to-day and explore new and exciting ways to grow.

    At the time, I didn’t want to rule out that more “traditional” job route. You know, the one with the 9-5, the steady salary, and your very own desk that’s quite distinctly not in your childhood home. The type of job all my friends from college were going for.

    But the jobs that I explored that summer just didn’t feel right.

    And then in late August 2015, I finally told the truth to myself. I was doing what I already wanted to be doing. I was working with a fantastic group of entrepreneurs. I was creating my own career, and felt my learning and growth going at hyperspeed. It felt amazing, and I was certainly not going to give that up.

    As Jenny notes in her new book PIVOT, I had already been piloting self-employment for a year and a half by the time I graduated. I had tested my systems and strategies for building my business, and experimented with raising my rates and figuring things out along the way.

    It was then—in August 2015—that I knew I was ready to move from pilot mode to launch mode—to fully commit to self-employment and not look back. I became a full-time freelancer. A solopreneur. My own boss at 22 years old.

    Now, a year later, my vision is changing again. And you know what that means! Time for a pivot.

    When Your Launch Becomes a Pilot

    I spent the rest of 2015 and early 2016 building my client base and thinking about expansion. That was the whole point of running your own business, right? To add more clients, scale business services, and capital-m Monetize.

    But as I got more and more involved with working with my current clients, the last thing I wanted to do was spread myself too thin. I was also still really unsure how to define what I actually did.

    That’s when I realized my “launch” into self-employment had transformed into a “pilot” round in itself.

    I was testing out what I really wanted to do. I dove into content marketing, social media, brand strategy, business-building, website copywriting, article ghostwriting, community building, and email management. I worked side-by-side with my clients as they launched new websites, built new communities, created awesome content, and took their businesses to the next level.

    I spent months saying yes to nearly every freelance opportunity, and by spring 2016 it was time for me to refine my business, to cut loose what wasn’t serving my career development, and go all in on what truly held my interests.

    This is why I loved being self-employed. In any other scenario, I would not have been able to pilot as many job roles, to take on the level of responsibility that I did, or be in a position of constant career analysis.

    Self-employment gave me the confidence and security to try things I NEVER would have gone for.

    For instance, when I graduated college, it never crossed my mind to apply for a job at a brand and design agency (and commit myself full time!). I didn’t know the first thing about design, but when Jenny referred me to her friend Adam at ABC Design Lab, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t know what would come of it—for all I knew, it would be a disaster fit. But time went on, and I grew my role at ABC from a 15-hour/week gig to being a (nearly full time) Communication Strategist.

    Self-employment had helped me find work I didn’t even know I loved. And I am so, so grateful for that.

    Last Week to Pre-Order PIVOT

    It is absolutely nuts to think that the book launch is just a week away! We’re so grateful for all the excitement that has already generated around Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, and I don’t want you to miss out on this awesome pre-order bonuses!

    If you pre-order by September 6, you'll get all these goodies:

    • Signed Bookplate: a sticker that goes on the inside of the book. For you and a friend if you'd like to gift a copy! Offer good until midnight September 6 (launch day); for U.S. residents only.

    • Sneak Peek: at one of Jenny's favorite chapters—an excerpt from the book on what it means to be High Net Growth, and how to assess your risk threshold.

    • Early access to the Pivot Toolkit: 30+ templates, and a list of Pivot 201 recommended reading.

    • Pivot Playlist on Spotify: Favorite songs Jenny jammed to while going through her last pivot and writing the book, that fit many of the themes she addresses in the book itself :)  

    • Private Q&A Call with Jenny during the launch week. You can submit questions in advance to ensure she covers what you're curious about!

    • Jenny's 20+ Page Behind the Book Toolkit: every tool, template and system I used at each stage of the book writing process: proposal, outline, writing, editing, marketing, and more.

    To access the bonus bundle, order your copy of Pivot here. Then grab your confirmation number and fill out the form here . We’re so excited for you to read the book!

    Even More Bonuses When You Join Momentum

    With Momentum being one of my favorite places to hangout online, I can’t not mention it here and invite you to join this private community for side-hustlers and solopreneurs! :)

    Right now, we’re offering a discount on this quarter’s membership to all members who pre-order Pivot (it’s like getting the book for half off!).

    Jenny will also be hosting a private webinar later in September called Launch Ninja (+ JB Lessons Learned), where she’ll sit down with the Momentum Crew for a debrief on the launch, best practices when launching (anything), and lessons she's learned along the way.

    Plus, you’ll have access to all of our regular Momentum membership perks and bonuses, including access to all of Jenny’s courses, templates, and checklists (over $500 value).  

    Interested in joining the fun? Click here to learn more about Momentum.


    About Marisol Dahl

    Marisol graduated Yale in 2015 as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and branding. 

    She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

    Skype Interview Mastery

    Written by Melissa Anzman skype-interview

    There are so many new ways to interview these days, that having a Skype interview is most likely going to happen during your job hunt. I had my first one about four years ago and I remember being completely freaked out about the whole situation. Since then, I’ve had many Skype interviews and have been the one conducting them as well. Here are a few tips to help you ace your next one.

    How to Ace Your Skype Interview

    Do a test run.

    Before every single interview, test your technology. I cannot stress this enough. Just because Skype worked perfectly yesterday, does not mean that it will be functional when you need it (speaking from experience here). And let's not forget that lately, Skype has been notorious for pushing out updates that take ages to populate on your machine.

    Do a quick video chat with a friend about 20 minutes before your interview to test everything out, so you’re set to go before the interview - or at a minimum, do a test run with yourself to make sure you can a) open/access Skype; b) have a stable connection; c) nothing looks ridiculous in the background. 

    Keep your Skype name professional.

    Same principles apply as using a ridiculous email address on your resume. Your user-name should be your name or some variation of it, to make it easy and professional. If you have to set-up a new “job interview/professional” account, do it – it’s simple and free.

    I once interviewed a great candidate, who's Skype name was something like... "partyhardyo" - let's just say I was a bit skeptical when it came time to interview her.

    Pay attention to your background setting.

    Since we typically Skype with friends and family, our surroundings are usually not the main focus. But remember, just like a phone interview, this is an impression situation – you only have a few seconds to make the strongest impression via the screen, so make sure that you have planned everything.

    You don’t need to redo your office to make it designer-ready, just be sure to remove any offensive materials behind you. Think: posters, post-it notes, clutter, and so on. Test what is seen through your webcam and make sure it looks decent and comes off as professional, clean and put together.

    I'll give you a personal example here - I was going a video interview last year with our very own Paul Angone, and he started laughing when he could finally see me. In the place I was renting, there was a stuffed animal moose head on the wall above me - not really the look I was going for. Be sure you test those things as well - and take a screenshot if needed, so you are able to review everything the interviewer can see.

    Professional on the top, party on the bottom.

    Just like a mullet, your shirt (top) needs to be business professional clothes, but there can be a party in back (bottom). This is an INTERVIEW. Wear a top that you would wear to an in-person interview such as a suit coat, button-up, etc.

    No one can see below your waist, so no need to go all out. It actually helps me calm down knowing that I’m wearing silly pajama pants with a blazer. Do not forget that this interview should be taken seriously and make sure your top-half is groomed accordingly.

    And I can't believe I have to remind you, but please do your normal grooming routine - make sure your hair looks presentable. I was interviewing another candidate who was a front-runner for the role, but when we had our Skype interview, she looked like she just rolled out of bed (hair was in serious award-winning bed-head style). I know it isn't always fun or easy to get ready for a 30 minute call, but it will be well worth it.

    Figure out where to look.

    Skype is strange – it’s hard to figure out where you’re supposed to look on the screen. If you look at the person on your screen, you’re looking down to the person on the other side. That’s ok – the person on the other side is struggling with the same thing as well.

    I would advise sitting a bit further away from the camera (if you can), so you can do a better job at looking at the camera and the person. If you need to choose one, I tend to vote for looking at the camera – it’s easier to make a connection on the other end, and is closest to eye contact in an in-person conversation.

    And while we're talking about where to look, make sure you position your camera appropriately: you want it at least eye-level to you, but having the camera slightly higher than you - looking down, gives you a better angle. Alas, remember the lighting too - I always look like I'm in the witness protection program when I go with natural light in my home... make sure you don't do that too! If so, I've found that placing a bright light right in front of the camera so you're basically staring into it, sheds the best light and gets me out of shadow. Try a few different angles in your workspace too.

    Remember there is a camera on.

    I am sure you’ve all heard the funny and scary things that have been captured on a webcam when the owner forgot the camera was on. Don’t be one of those videos on YouTube. Please. Right before and right after the interview, people tend to forget that they are on candid camera and either say or do silly things, forgetting that someone is on the other line.

    I’ve seen people fixing their hair, flossing, using the webcam like a mirror to make sure they are prettied up, commenting on how it went (or their opinion about the interviewer… ahem, me), and so on. Remember that the camera is on and someone is watching you. Wow, that just turned a bit Big Brother, but I think you know what I mean.

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, a Skype interview can really work in your favor. You’re able to get across so much more about who you are live via video versus a phone call. Be you, let your personality shine through, and remain calm at all costs. Part of the lore of doing Skype interviews for hiring managers, is that they are very uncomfortable.

    I’m not going to lie – I think it’s super strange that you’re interviewing and seeing someone in their own personal space. It’s awkward and surreal at first – how you manage that, is exactly what they’re looking for.

    Remember that they are trying to gauge the following from you: your skills, your personality, how you engage others under pressure, what your “space” looks and feels like, cultural fit with the manager and company, and your skills. Good luck and keep Skyping!


    melissa anzmanAbout Melissa

    Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

    Planning Advice from My Barista

    Written by Melissa Anzman pins on map

    I was talking to my local barista yesterday morning about her summer plans - with snow still falling every other day, I needed something fun and exciting to look forward to. She said, “I’m not really sure what I’ll be doing this summer, but I KNOW I’ll be in Australia next summer.”

    Um... huh?

    Me: “That’s awesome... but, um, how do you know what you’ll be doing next summer without plans for this one?”

    Barista: “I’ve always been a future planner - I can’t manage the day-to-day well, but give me a year or more out and I know exactly what I’ll be doing.

    Huh. That confused me on so many levels. You see, I’m not really a future planner - I can’t create a 5-year plan to save my life; I am happy to put down my annual business goals, but it’s pure guesstimation - not at all based on what will happen; and I wouldn’t even know where to start when thinking about where I’ll be next summer.

    Me: “Wow - together we’d be the best planner in the world! We should get right on that.”

    I’m not sure why it took a simple conversation to remind of these different approaches to planning and accomplishing goals, it struck me as a light-bulb moment.

    Maybe it’s because I was recently asked how I planned to get to where I am in my career and I was left speechless (not a typical state of being for me).

    Or maybe it’s because I have been trying to flex my planning muscles recently, growing a new tool for my toolkit.

    But whatever the reason, it was a great reminder of the many paths to planning and achieving.

    I tried to think like my barista since our conversation... ... If I knew that this time next year I’d be packing for a summer-long adventure in Australia, what would I need to do to get me there?

    I was blank - nothing came up other than to pack my suitcase.

    How I would save the funds? What I would do with my car? My cat? My things... and so on. No clue at all.

    If you’re a future planner like my barista, you probably are yelling at your screen having everything planned out for me already (calculate the money you’ll need for the flight and living expenses, the amount of time you have to earn that much and you’re there... I didn’t come up with that on my own, my barista helped me with that answer).

    For the first hour of this exercise yesterday when I was trying to plan for Australia and then more importantly, for my business and career, I was panicked. I could not create a future plan so therefore I will definitely fail... right? But I remembered that I got to where I am now with my shorter-term planning methods and am doing just fine.

    I’m not the person who knows what I’ll be doing a year from now or 10 years from now, heck, I hardly know what I’ll be doing a month from now. But what I do know, is that if you are feeling fear or failure because you don’t have the same process as someone else - whether that be in planning, goal making, career pathing, or laundry - it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at it.

    Hearing how other people would tackle a situation is helpful, but it’s not the only way you can make your way through decisions along the way. Had I planned out my career as a future-planner, there is no way in the world I would be doing what I am doing now. Had I listened to the experts out there - I would have never have taken the various leaps I have that have lead my career on its unique path.

    Just a little friendly reminder from my barista. Now go plan something - create SMART goals and set the right achievement timeline for you. :)


    melissa anzman

    About Melissa

    Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

    6 Things to Consider Before You Quit Your New Job

    quit.png

    Written by Melissa Anzman

    We are all questioning our career path and our “job satisfaction” levels to determine how much we want to kick butt during December when we’d rather be spending time laying on a beach or drinking egg nog. But what if instead of just having the year-end blues, you are in a new job or role that you can tell will lead to disaster?

    You know, you’ve just been baited and switched. Or perhaps everyone was on their very best behavior during the interview process. Or you made a very bad, desperate decision. It doesn’t really matter why you ended up where you are – you are stuck with a new job that sucks. And you want to quit, like yesterday.

    Can I Quit Yet?

    I am a proponent of experiencing different jobs – hey, I can’t even count how many I have had throughout my career. But I do think that before you leave a job you need to consider the potential impact on your career trajectory.

    {Interruption}: My dear Gen Y’ers – I know that you think that this doesn’t really matter for you. That you can job hop like the best of them without any care or worry on how it will impact your next job. I’ve heard it before – the job market is different for you. There are different rules. Agreed. However,you still have to make strategic career decisions. {end}

    6 Things You Need to Consider Before You Leave Your New Job

    1. Have you been in the role at least six months?

    I know it sounds old-school, but if you haven’t been in your role for at least six months, you haven’t actually experienced enough to make a decision about the position. You may have known that your boss was awful on week two, but other opportunities or long-term solutions will not present itself until you’ve spent some time there learning and growing in the role. Six months also marks inclusion on your resume. Can you stick it out to at least reach this mini-milestone?

    2. Did you make connections at the company that will be useful to you during your career?

    It’s hard to think long-term when you are so miserable in the short-term. But I can’t tell you the number of people I met along my career journey in crappy jobs that have helped me later down the road. Seriously, some of my favorite people and mentors were added to my circle during my shorter gigs. Think BIG about this – is there an impressive leader who is in the role you want; what about a client that makes you genuinely excited to be working with them; or a coworker that you just know is going places? If you have awesome people to meet and build relationships with, it’s not yet time to leave.

    3. Have you fully received the lesson(s) that you need to get?

    Warning, I think I just went uncharacteristically woo-woo for a minute. But you are in that job to learn something. Maybe it was the “thing” that attracted you to the position in the first place or perhaps it’s a bigger life lesson. Whatever it may be, have you actually changed because of it yet? Will you be smarter and wiser for the experience in your next job? If you are rolling your eyes at this bullet, you haven’t embraced the lesson.

    4. Did you exhaust your internal resources or lateral move options?

    Six months tends to be the door-opener at many companies for when they will consider you for an internal position or lateral move. You may think the company is the problem, and it very well may be, but a different position may even out your Balance Scale appropriately. Have you applied for open internal positions? Being able to remain at a company longer, will absolutely help you further your career, so having a new role can feel like you’re starting something new and fun without the hassle of a full-blown job search.

    5. Have you truly evaluated what you are going to do next?

    I can’t really be a strong proponent for “making sure you have a new job lined up before you quit,” although I do think that’s smart advice, but what are you going to do next Monday morning after you’ve left your job? Are you prepared for the very real possibility of looking for a job for six months or more? Can you pay all of your bills without going into debt for even longer? Will you be able to motivate yourself to continue to look for income sources even when faced with rejection or no response… for months on end? Um, yeah – just make sure you’ve given this a lot of thought.

    6. Can your role become a bridge job?

    Are you able to shift your mindset from a stop along the career train, to this position being a bridge job? It is always ok to go to work to simply work. Can this awful job be re-framed into something that helps you earn money while you build your empire outside of work? Try it for two weeks and see if it’s something you can do for a longer period of time. No need to set long-term goals about it, but perhaps commit to it being a bridge job one month at a time and reevaluate where you are at with questions 1 – 5 at the end of each chunk of time.

    The bottom line is this: Before you quit a new job, you need to consider the long-term impact on not only your career, but also how it can shape your credibility for future employers. It can imply that you are a “quitter” or not loyal – neither of which are good characteristics. But even more than that, it can prevent you from being considered for future positions because the recruiter/hiring manager will see it as a red flag of your poor performance. So if you can stick it out… a little bit longer, do.

    What do you think? Is it worth sticking it out, or time to move on? Tell us more in the comments below!

    melissa anzman

    About Melissa

    Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

    Land the Gig (Part 3): Expand the Pie

    Written by Jenny BlakeThis post is brought to you by Wells Fargo. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. pie

    In Part One of this series we talked about how to prepare to land a gig with your ideal client or company. In Part Two, we covered tips for how to create mutually beneficial conversations and calm nerves while interviewing.

    Once you both feel like there’s a potential fit, one last piece remains: how to sweeten the pot for both parties. Whether you are closing a deal or enrolling a new client, sweetening the pot isn’t just about the money. Negotiating, at its heart, is about understanding what both parties want to give and receive and how to come to an agreement that is a win for everyone.

    Expanding the pie means not just dividing resources—who gets how much—but getting creative about brainstorming beyond obvious metrics, such as money. What are the monetary and non-monetary intangible benefits that you both offer moving forward?

    1. Reframe Fears

    One of the best things you can do to prepare is recall times you negotiated successfully:

    • What enabled you to have those tough conversations?
    • What gave you the courage to ask for what you want?  
    • How might those experiences translate to this upcoming conversation?
    • On combating the inevitable nerves that may arise, what would you advise a friend to do in your exact situation?
    • What is the worst that can happen? The best?

    2. Sweeten the Pie

    What are your priorities? Money isn’t everything, but it is one (usually primary) aspect to consider as part of your overall Priorities Pie. You can even draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into the following categories. How big would each slice be in terms of its importance?

    • Flexibility, such as work from home days; the ability to travel
    • Time off, vacation (some even build in precation - extra time off before starting the new gig)
    • Benefits like health insurance, parental leave, transportation, wellness programs, tuition reimbursement, and volunteer days
    • Job Responsibilities: tasks and activities that are most interesting to you

    What else is a make-or-break as you consider this gig? What elements are must-haves, what are nice-to-have, and what are deal breakers? Revisit the Plan Your Next Career Move template to help with this assessment.

    3. Creative Promotions: Beyond Titles and Money

    Similar to the money conversation, if you are currently employed, remember that promotion isn’t everything either. Lateral moves and intangibles are often much more valuable. Things like:

    • Dream Resume Builders: Taking on a ten or twenty percent project with another team, or with a project directly related to your dream career. When I was at Google, I started working on a ten-percent project with my friend Becky to create a drop-in coaching program for Googlers. When a Career Development team formed 1.5 years later, I was perfectly positioned to interview (and land) the open role, even though I was much younger than they were anticipating for the role. I had also bolstered my case by attending coach training on nights and weekends on my own accord. Thanks to my manager and the company, I was allowed to work on a passion project with ten percent of my time, I was able to bolster my resume and create value in my career beyond my paycheck. That ten-percent project has since blossomed into one of my primary sources of income as a solopreneur!
    • Location Pivots: If there isn’t a promotion available on your team, you may be able to move up the life experience ladder by asking to work from another office in a city that excites you. This could be stateside or abroad.
    • Key Mentors: Sometimes a lateral move will expose you to a power mentor or manager within the company. Someone who you can learn immense amounts from through direct coaching and observation. Although I didn’t report directly to her (I was many layers down), I enjoyed working in Sheryl Sandberg’s organization while she was at Google. I learned a tremendous amount through observation alone, and the programs and priorities she shared with us every quarter.

    What are some of the non-monetary benefits that you would like to aim for in the next year?

    Resources to Plan What’s Next — Your First Few Months:

    Now that you’ve successfully come to an agreement, don’t stop there! Envision what a successful first few months looks like with the resources below, accessible via Google Drive on mobile and desktop:

    • Professional Development Strategy: This template has three strategy areas: Your Vision (brainstorm about desired impact, what you want to do & have), The What (skills, knowledge, education, experience), and The How (quarterly benchmarks & resources).
    • Ideal Day Mad Lib: Fill-in-the-blanks in this fun document to articulate what your ideal day looks like. Bonus points: do one version for your WILD AND CRAZY vision, then do another for your ideal average day — what an energizing "regular" work-day might entail.
    • Time Tracker & Schedule Blocker: Especially great for those who are self-employed or have flexible schedules, the time tracker and schedule blocker template will help you analyze where your time is currently going and help put your ideal day plan into tangible weekly terms.

    That wraps up our Land the Gig series! I wish you the best of luck with all of your visioning, interviewing, negotiating and ultimately landing the job or client of your wildest dreams. If you try any of these tactics, we’d love to hear how things go!


    About Jenny

    Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book Pivot. She is a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its 9th year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

    Land the Gig (Part 2): Interviewing

    Written by Jenny Blake. This post is brought to you by Wells Fargo. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.

    DeathtoStock_Desk10

    In the kick-off post on Landing the Gig we talked about setting clear goals before you engage in conversation with your prospective client or employer:

    • Vision: One year from now, what does smashing success look like?
    • Value: What assets do you bring to the other party and vice versa?
    • Skills: On a related note: no matter what, having a wide and diverse skillset is key; marketable skills that you can combine within and outside of your industry. How will those play a role in this relationship?
    • Conversation: What is your ideal outcome for the conversation itself? How do you want to show up? What is the most important thing you wish to communicate? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

    Next Up: Nail the Interview

    Contrary to the clichéd image of the eager prospect sitting across from a prospective boss getting grilled, interviewing is something that is happening all the time—you just might not realize it.

    When you work for yourself, interviews are a natural way to connect with potential clients to see if there is a fit. When you are hoping to land a full-time job or transfer within your company, interviews are the meat of the transition process.

    Interviews don’t have to be nerve-wracking, though I know they can be. When I was interviewing at Google, there was a day where I had four interviews back-to-back. I remember the first interviewer, who later became a close friend, saying to me: “You’re great, you just seem really nervous. Try to relax for your next few conversations, they are going to love you.”

    Although my cheeks flushed from (even more) nerves and embarrassment, his candor was such a gift! It put me at ease that he cared about me enough to give such honest feedback. I took a few deep breaths and tried to have fun the rest of the day. It must have worked!

    Three tips to best set yourself up for success to have a mutually beneficial conversation:

    1. Ask about their goals early on. 

    That way you can explain your value, ideas, and experiences more directly as it relates to their priorities. People hire someone—a coach, an employee, a freelancer—because there is a gap between how they are currently operating and how they would like to be, and they are hoping you are the solution.

    2. Be succinct in conveying value.

    Come prepared with three takeaways (your 60-second pitch) and one strong example for each. You might also consider sharing examples that highlight how you uniquely approach and/or solve problems, such as how you have handled inter-department conflicts or managed complex launches. 

    3. Remember interviewing is a two-way street. 

    What is the most important factor in determining if this opportunity is a fit for you? This might include qualities of the client or the co-workers you will be working with, benefits and/or pay schedule, and other intangible or personal elements that would make this opportunity an exciting and worthwhile one to pursue.

    Physiological Tips for Calming Nerves

    As I shared in my posts on how to Speak Like a Pro: Practical Tips to Propel Your Confidence & Delivery and How to Prevent Panic, I used to break out in red hives all over my chest and neck before important presentations. When I am nervous, it shows.

    I have had to learn how to calm my system down on a physiological level, which is something you can (and should!) experiment with if you find too much adrenaline surging into your bloodstream during an important interview.

    • BREATHE. This is key! It will help you relax, sending your body back into rest-and-digest mode.
    • Smile! Have fun, be yourself, and trust that the interview will go well, even if you aren’t perfect.
    • Release your attachment to the outcome. Ask for the highest good for all involved, even if that means that you don’t land this gig. Sometimes blessings-in-disguise are the best things to happen to us -- the bullets dodged that allows us to say no to the good so we can say yes to the great, as the John Maxwell saying goes.

    Bigger Moves: What to Look for When Changing Industries

    • Informational interviews are a great way to learn about a company’s culture, as is shadowing for an hour or even half a day if you have the opportunity. Could you see yourself working within this type of environment, with these people, in the role/s that are available?
    • Tailor your preparation to the industry you are interviewing in: something as simple as dress code will vary depending on whether you interview for a financial job versus a brand new tech startup.
    • Ultimately, the best approach is to be yourself. If you have to try too hard for the interview, it may be a sign that there is not a culture (or a clothing!) fit.

    Resources:

    • Job-Interview One-Sheeter: This template condenses nine key questions into a one-page “Cliffs Notes.” Quickly articulate your answers to 9 key areas, including: strengths, goals, work-style, ideas, challenges you’ve overcome, questions & an answer to that dreaded “weaknesses” question.
    • Speak Like a Pro Course: Join me for 25 compelling conversations with authors, TED speakers and the world’s leading experts on influence, body language, behavior change, and what it takes to Speak Like a Pro. You’ll walk away with practical tips to improve your confidence, delivery and impact to influence audiences of any size.

    Stay tuned for Part Three, where I’ll share my favorite negotiation tips, particularly on how to sweeten the pie instead of dividing it (when it comes to money, perks, and mutually beneficial arrangements).

    Waiting for Perfect Alignment

    Written by Melissa Anzman ducks

    Our fears present themselves in many different ways – procrastination, frustration, anger, excuses, and so on. The easiest way to prolong anything is waiting for perfect alignment. You know, “I can’t do X because Y isn’t in place yet.”

    When I was working in the corporate world, it usually looked like:

    • I can’t apply for that job because I don’t match the job posting 100%.
    • I’m not ready for a promotion because I haven’t been at the company long enough.
    • I’m not a leader because I don’t have any experience with people management.

    As a solopreneur, my alignment excuses have presented in many ways, recently:

    • I can’t launch my new design because it’s not perfect yet.
    • I am not ready to write a new book because the first two weren’t best sellers.
    • I can’t pursue an exciting opportunity because it does not match my current trajectory.

    The funny thing is, I’ve found that we’re all waiting for perfect alignment before we take risks of any kind. Whether we’re using perfection as a comparison tool or as a procrastination method, it’s holding all of us back.

    Stop Waiting for Perfection

    I wish I had a guaranteed method to walk you through to start bursting through your perfection and alignment ideals, but honestly, it’s hard work – and not a one-size-fits-all solution. But here’s what I know for sure:

    • You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.
    • The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.
    • Perfect alignment will never come.

    You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.

    Good piece of advice there, no? A few years ago I was having lunch with one of my friends and we were talking about going out on our own and why some people make it “big” while others don’t. Because they actually put themselves out there to try.”

    That conversation and our eventual landing place, has never stopped bouncing around in my mind. Sure there are people out there who may be more qualified, or better equipped, or more experienced, or…. (enter any excuse here). But they are doing it while you just continue to ponder all of the things that can go wrong.

    There is never going to be a job description that matches your skills 100%. You are never going to be hired for a job you don’t apply to. Your niche market is not going to be completely untapped. Your website isn’t going to be perfect – ever. But if you don’t apply, or pick a market, or publish the site – you won’t be any closer to your goals.

    The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.

    We’ve all failed – some more than others. And guess what – we’ve lived to tell the story. Sure it isn’t always easy or kind to our egos, but it’s a big part of learning. “Failure” teaches us what not to do again and forces us how to try again.

    If you don’t get the job offer – it’s not failure, but a good indication that you weren’t a good fit with the company (or vice versa). And how awesome is it to know that before you spend your time and energy onboarding?

    Perfect alignment will never come.

    I used to wait for perfection – for a sign of complete alignment. For completing steps 1 – 4 so then step 5 can be PERFECT. I hate to tell you this, but it has never happened. I spent YEARS thinking and pondering and doing the what-if treadmill.

    And I missed out on doing while waiting for alignment. I denied myself the joy of writing because I was waiting for a “sign” that people would want to read what I wrote. I didn’t travel because I was waiting for the perfect mate to travel with.

    Stop waiting for everything to align perfectly. It’s NEVER going to happen. Perfection or the idea of perfection, does not allow you to pursue. To create. To explore. To achieve. To be you.

    Start doing – take little steps if the big ones seem overwhelming. Stop saying one day and start going after the things you want, even if things aren’t “lined up.”

    What are you stalling on? How does perfection alignment present itself in your life? Tell us more in the comments below!


    melissa anzman

    About Melissa

    Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

    Standing Out From a Crowd of 30,000

    Written by Davis Nguyen 

    I rejected an applicant with a 4.0 GPA from Yale, and I was prepared to reject more.

    Last month, my company asked me to help recruit the upcoming class of summer interns. It was my job to screen more than a hundred resumes from Yale (my alma mater), rank the applicants, and decide who my team and I thought should get an interview and who shouldn’t. The call to be part of recruiting at Bain is like being called up for jury duty – it's extra work, but it's considered an honor.

    Upon accepting my role, I received a document to read that outlined how Bain & Company thought about applicants, what to look for in a resume, how to evaluate a transcript, and what attributes would indicate someone would contribute positively and have a good time at Bain.

    This is not to say that the people we reject are not great applicants. But when each year more than 30,000 people apply for limited positions at Bain & Company, you have to have an objective measure. And over the last forty years, Bain's recruiting must be working, considering the number of future Fortune 500 CEOs, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and even Presidential nominees we hire.

    After reading my share of the thousands of resumes and debating about the candidates, I learned how someone could stand out from a crowd of 30,000 applicants in whatever job they might apply to.

    Cover Letter

    The cover letter wasn’t really optional.

    If my company and I are going to invest time, money, and energy to interview and develop you, we expect you to spend at least an hour writing a cover letter. I rejected more than a dozen applicants with perfect or near perfect GPAs, because they chose not to explain why they were interested in the position. Not writing a cover letter explaining why you are applying is like telling someone you like them and then showing up an hour late for a date. Let your actions match your intents.

    Google will save you from rejection.

    When I see you describing my company as “caring about results” and “valuing people,” I think, which company would say they don’t care about results or about its people? Find examples. What would have been better was checking out the websites of every company you apply for. What stories do they tell? What examples do they list of what they value and what makes them unique? What do the clients say about the company? Replace platitudes with examples to show you did your research.

    Talk to someone who works there.

    Want an easy way to write your cover letter? Talk to someone who works there. You can easily find the email of someone who works at the place you want to work at. Reach out. If people repeatedly reject even a short 15 minute call with you, reconsider whether this is the type of culture you even want to work in.

    Your cover letter isn’t really about you.

    It is about us and what you can do with us. I don’t care if you talk about the company you tried to start in college or the summers you volunteered at a kids’ camp. What matters is how your experience will help you have a successful time at the company. If you don’t tell me, I assume you don’t know if you will be successful and were just trying to fill up space on the cover letter.

    Want to tell me about that stain on your resume?

    The cover letter is the only chance you have to explain to me any points you think I will miss. This includes why your GPA should higher than it actually is. Did you have a family issue that caused one semester to drop your GPA? Without an explanation, I can’t read your mind. You can’t hide the stains, but you can explain why they are there before I assume the worst.

    Resume

    You have a college degree but so does everyone else. What else do you have to offer?

    Today ~30% of Americans have at least a college degree compared to ~10% who had it in 1970’s. Having a college degree now is almost assumed. In the 1970’s if you knew how to operate a computer, it was a skill worth listing. Now you wouldn’t list “computer skills” since it is assumed every recent college grad will know who to use one. But is impressive if you have advanced computer skills that are relevant. When most to all people have the same qualification as you, you have to find other ways to stand out.

    You have a degree in business, but an applicant with a degree in biology has started his own pop-up restaurant. Who do you think I will choose?

    Just because you lack a degree in business doesn’t mean you can’t land a job in business, and just because you have a degree in business doesn’t mean you have a better chance of landing a job in business. In 2014, a team at Auburn University sent 9,400 fictitious resumes to online job openings in business-related fields such as finance, management, and marketing. Each of these resumes were assigned one of nine different majors ranging from business to biology.

    Resumes with business degrees were not any more likely to land an interview than resumes with non-business degrees such as English or biology, but what helped was having internship experience listed – this increased the odds by 14%. As I am reading though your resume, I care less about what you studied in the classroom and more about how you use the skills you learn outside the classroom.

    Imagine your resume is the only impression I get of you because it might be.

    Considering the vast number of resumes I read, I saw some designs that wasn’t just your typical default Microsoft Word template – these people took the time to format these. While a beautiful resume alone did not guarantee a high-rating by me, it made the overall application more memorable. This was especially true in instances when more applicants are qualified than there are spots, I have nothing more than how nicely formatted the resume is. Your resume is an extension of you.

    Google will once again save you.

    Find out what we actually do. Your resume is not a time to brag about all the crap you have done. But if the crap you’ve done will help the company, you have my attention. I don’t care that you were a waiter at a Michelin star restaurant, but if your tips were 2x the average, then you have my attention. That signals that you know how to deal with people. Your resume is not about you. How will your experience help your future company?

    You have a lower GPA than most other applicants, but we’ll still take you.

    A high GPA means you can handle hard work. But will you be able to work with others? Do you have the resolve to be calm under pressure? Do you have the fire in belly to be a problem solver? I can’t tell this from just your GPA, so if a high GPA is the only positive quality you have going for you, you are in trouble.

    A great resume and cover letter won’t guarantee you a dream job, but having a bad one will make you lost among the 30,000 other applicants.

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments: What is the best job application advice you’ve received?


    About Davis

    Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

    Land the Gig Part 1: Preparation

    Written by Jenny BlakeThis post is brought to you by Wells Fargo. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.

    preparation

    They say authors write the book they themselves need to read. That was certainly the case with Pivot, as I shared in my recent post, Gift or a Teacher.

    I just turned in the final draft after three years of working on the idea, proposal and manuscript, and have been reflecting on how writing the book has transformed my life and my outlook on career change.

    One of the most surprising aspects was how often change was choosing those I featured, with or without their active participation. Of the dozens of people I interviewed at the start of 2014, almost none are in the same role, or even at the same company. People were hired, fired, acquired; they made lateral moves within their company; they started their own businesses and shuttered them. They worked on side-hustles.

    Millennials often get a bad rap for job-hopping, but what I saw in writing Pivot was that people at all ages and stages are being asked to take a more fluid outlook on their careers.

    In an article for the New York Times Magazine on What Hollywood can Teach us About the Future of Work Adam Davidson writes about how more corporations may soon adopt the “Hollywood model” :

    “A project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands,” Davidson writes. “More of us will see our working lives structured around short-term, project-based teams rather than long-term, open-ended jobs.”

    Given that we are all working in a more project-based economy, it behooves us all to brush-up on our gig landing skills. In this three-part series, I am going to share my best tips for how to Land the Gig — whether you are a solopreneur or side-hustler looking for clients, an intrapreneur looking for new projects within your company, or looking to get a new full-time job altogether. The lessons apply across the board, so I encourage you to think about how they relate to your current situation and goals.

    Once you have a prospective client, job transfer or new employer in mind, Landing the Gig has three main parts: preparation, interviewing, and negotiating. Today we’ll dig-in to step number one.

    Preparation: What is Your Ideal Outcome?

    There are two of common pitfalls in the preparation stage:

    • Over-focusing on the other party, auditioning too much for them (and not considering how they are a fit for you). See also: Stop Auditioning for Other People’s Lives
    • Worrying or succumbing to fear about worst-case scenarios, or what will happen if you don’t land the gig.

    Although our minds are trying to be helpful, focusing on these two areas does not generate solutions or positive, collaborative, excited, mutually beneficial energy (which is always the best foundation for landing a gig that’s a great fit).

    Instead, focus on the following before you sit down face-to-face (or on the phone):

    • Vision: if you end up partnering with this client or company, what is possible for both of you? One year from now, what does smashing success look like?
    • Culture: If you are looking to land a corporate gig, where do you want to work? With whom? What does your office look like? What is the vibe of the company culture? What types of personalities do your co-workers have? What is your ideal relationship with them, and with your manager? What benefits, such as training resources and wellness perks, are most important to you? What is your ideal schedule?
    • Value: What assets do you bring to the other party? What are you hoping they can provide for you in return?
    • Conversation: Much like sports psychology, put yourself in the room and visualize a successful conversation. What will help build confidence before your conversation? What topic/s do you want to cover during? What will happen afterward?
    • Skills: No matter what, having a wide and diverse skillset is key; marketable skills that you can combine within and outside of your industry. How will those play a role in this relationship?

    By spending time with the questions above, you will develop clarity and confidence in what you truly want, which will help you be even more efficient at sussing out the best fit for your next move. That way even if this gig doesn’t work out, your feelers are refined for an even clearer search process and call to your network about how they can help you get where you want to go.

    Resources:

    • Plan Your Next Career Move: This template will help you start to lift the fog on your career — it breaks down various categories within a job or career (location, company size, culture, type of work, compensation), and provides space for you to brainstorm a list of must-haves, nice-to-haves, and can’t stands for each area. Think of it like an “ideal mate” exercise, but for a job — arguably an even bigger commitment given how much time we spend at work!
    • Career Change: Network Email Mad Lib: This template outlines exactly how to reach out to your network once you’re clear on what you want to do next, and what you bring to the table. Simply fill-in the blanks, personalize, and voilà! You’re ready to send to your inner circle so they can help keep feelers out for you.(Go to File –> Make a Copy to save a version for yourself)

    Stay tuned for Part Two, where I’ll share how to nail exploratory interviews with prospective clients or your dream company.


    About Jenny

    Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book Pivot. She is a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its 9th year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

    Magnetic Personal Projects: What’s Yours? Part 3 — Let’s Talk Money

    UOP3 Written by Jenny Blake

    Now you know how to deflect boring cocktail party banter. You’ve tested your side business hypothesis and got your eyes on a personal project prize, maybe even one that can generate additional income. Now the question is, how can you turn it into a full-fledged business if and when you’re ready?

    Roll up your sleeves and get ready for today’s post: we’re going to talk money, honey.

    The Fundamentals

    First, it’s important to know how much you need to live on a monthly basis.

    When working with coaching clients, I start with three basic gauges for monthly income:

    • Minimum needed to pay basic expenses
    • Nice-to-have (to meet current or desired lifestyle)
    • Jump out of bed with glee (smashing audacious success!)
    • If you need help calculating your monthly expenses, try this 4-Step Budget Template (I also suggest Mint.com for tracking on an ongoing basis).

    Next, we work backwards from the nice-to-have number:

    • How many clients (or widgets do you need to sell) at what rate?
    • Or is it one client or company that you’re focused on, and you need to increase the scope of work?
    • Sketch out a few scenarios with this financial modeling spreadsheet.

    Avocados versus Tomatoes

    My friend Jenn shared an analogy that she learned from business coach Monica Shaw, on avocados versus tomatoes. Jenn describes it as follows:

    Avocados are long-term projects and bigger bets that are worth the wait. Avocados don’t grow as plentifully, but when they do they are creamy and delicious. Avocados take longer to harvest, are more expensive to grow, and they aren’t always in season—they are therefore harder to come by.

    Tomatoes, in business, are more readily available, easy ways to make money. In nature, tomatoes are a dime a dozen, their crops are bountiful, and they grow in all kinds of different terrain and weather. Therefore tomatoes are not as valuable, because there are so many of them, accessible to us at all times.

    The analogy in business is that avocados are the long-term projects that bear very bountiful fruit but go through barren periods, whereas tomatoes are what tide us over in-between because of their short incubation period from planting to harvesting. The idea is to have a mix between avocados and tomatoes.

    First, find your tomatoes: what activities create baseline income? Baseline income tends to be consistent, sustainable income that might be service-oriented programs or exchanging time-for-money, but are structured in a way that covers baseline expenses no matter what. Then with these “tomatoes” in place, you can move in to mid-and top-tier projects that are bigger bets but that won’t always consistently bear fruit. You have your basic expenses covered while still able to cultivate the time and energy it takes to grow more avocados (and not just be a tomato farmer).

    Is it Quitting Time?

    Even though leaving my full-time job in 2011 was the right decision for me, I actually don’t think it is always the best next move for everyone.

    There’s a financial term, “unrealized gains,” that refers to money you’re leaving on the table by leaving too soon. If you’re in a great job at a great company, there is a chance this could be the case.

    I suggest you pivot before you leap: before you plan your exit, consider whether there is some totallynew or sideways team in the company where you could practice some of the skills that you would need for your side business or for running your own business.

    For me, I pivoted internally from the AdWords training team to the coaching and Career Development team. When I left Google to work for myself, I was doing virtually the same job activities.

    If you have done everything in your power to stay and you’re still ready to go, it is critical to have a clear understanding of the following:

    • Savings Runway: how much money have you saved that can fund your transition?
    • Monthly Burn Rate: how much money do you typically spend each month to live? How many months will your savings last you?
    • Lines in the sand: by when do you want to make the final decision about leaving? When is your final “make or break” deadline, where if you’re not earning enough money you will look for another job?
    • Bridge Income: how can you earn income to buoy yourself between career changes, in addition to your savings runway?

    Additional Reading

    These questions alone could fill a book . . . one that I’m writing, in fact! Here are a few others to keep you busy in the meantime:

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments:

    What next step/s could you take to pivot before you leap? 


    Disclosure: This post was written as part of the University of Phoenix Versus Program. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.


    About Jenny

    Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career Strategist

    Jenny Blake is the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book The Pivot Method. She isa career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its seventh year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

    Magnetic Personal Projects: What’s Yours? Part Two — Start a Side Business

    JBlake2 By Jenny Blake

    Last time we talked about the importance of having a compelling personal project you’re excited about, no matter where you work or who you work for (including yourself).

    Today I’m going to talk about a specific type of personal project: the side business. This is different from a hobby in that it is tied to earning a living, even if just a tiny proportion of your current income.

    Side businesses often represent a calculated risk: I am going to willingly invest some of my spare time and energy (and maybe money) in this side project, something I’m excited about, with the hopes of making a greater proportion of my living off of this someday, or using it to land my next paid gig.

    Side Business Sweet Spot

    One of my friends, Christian, loves fishing. When he finds a good spot in the lake, he refers to it as a “honey hole.” The honey hole is the secret spot he can return to that’s highly likely to yield a great catch.

    The best side businesses are your equivalent of a honey hole: you enjoy them, you are excited to return to work, you feel you have discovered something unique to you, and they are fruitful—they provide value in return.

    There are four criteria to a successful side business:

    1. Cash Flow

    If it does not create income, either now or in the future, your beloved side business is a hobby. The best side businesses will be able to demonstrate a return on your investment; if not now, then at some point in the not-too-distant future. How long you are willing to wait for that is up to you, but I suggest doing something where you can test the ability to generate revenue fairly quickly.

    At first, the income you earn from your side business is likely to be very labor-intensive. You invest time and sweat equity for little pay. You do the hardest work up front. In his Startup Schoolpodcast series, Seth Godin calls this “front-loading”—better to do the hard work up front then reap the rewards later, rather than be surprised down the road when you have much more at stake.

    2. Enjoyment

    A side business doing grunt work is valuable if it helps you pay the bills or save up for the next big trip you want to take. But a side business with swagger is one that gets you into a state of flow. It is one that allows you to tap into your unique zone of genius, and leverages your best strengths. It is one where you lose track of time, and are excited to get to work, whether you have 15 minutes to spend on it that day or five hours.

    Questions to consider: What did you love to do as a kid? How might you pilot something similar as an adult?

    3. Skill-Building

    This is where you get to be a bit of a futurist: what skills will be needed in your field in the next few years? What areas are most exciting to you? What skills, if you were to build them now, while this is a side project, would greatly serve you if/when you were to take this project full-time? For some this may be more formal education; for others self-study or learning by observing others does the trick.

    4. Opportunity & Market Potential

    This goes hand-in-hand with cash flow. The most successful side businesses are ones that have a solid amount of growth potential. If you love teaching underwater basket-weaving but there’s no one interested in learning it from you, you will be quickly catapulted back into unprofitable habit territory.

    Look for side businesses where the market is bigger than your ability to serve it; opportunities that Nassim Taleb would describe as “Antifragile.” Look for areas where, if you were to invest your resources, you could profit almost no matter the state of the economy; opportunities that areasymmetrical in that they have high potential upside with limited downside, or risk.

    Be the Scientist

    I like to think of side businesses like experiments: you have a hypothesis about something that interests you that could make money, and now it is time to test your theory. For those of you who are already self-employed, this might be testing a new approach, service or product within your overall business.

    Here’s a template for this exercise, which will walk you through the following steps:

    • Make a list of 10 potential side business hypotheses that interest you down the left-hand side of the page, with the four categories above across the top.
    • Rate each idea on a scale of 1-5 for each of the criteria.
    • If you don’t have a clear winner, narrow the list down to your top three, and determine one small next step or experiment you could try for each.

    Stay tuned for Part Three, where I’ll share more on how to determine when to take your side business full-time.

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments:

    Which of your personal projects has the most side business potential? 


    Disclosure: This post was written as part of the University of Phoenix Versus Program. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.


    About Jenny

    Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career Strategist

    Jenny Blake is the author of Life After College and the forthcoming book The Pivot Method. She isa career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Today you can find her here on this blog (in its seventh year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.