Wisdom From My Career Path

The Career Studio Podcast Ep

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I share my own journey to create an energizing career I love and the insights I’ve gleaned along the way that are fundamental to the work I teach at The Career Studio.

From starting out in beauty and sports to landing a job in advertising in London at 25 despite knowing no one in the industry and having a tiny network in London. I discuss how I loved the adland job - until I didn’t - and how I panicked when I felt lost and made a series of decisions from a place of panic that led me off track. I dive into my experience of hating my job and getting fired and realizing that coaching was the best fit for who I was and how I wanted to spend my time.

The past 15 years have had tons of ups and downs and these experiences have given me the wisdom I’m proud to share with you today. The intention is you walk away motivated, inspired, and equipped to apply my insights to your own career and life.


You’ll learn in this episode

  • How I landed a job at the biggest ad agency in London at 25 without knowing anyone 
  • What to do and not to do when you feel lost in your career
  • How to make a decision if a second degree is worth it
  • How I found the thing I was really passionate about

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Welcome to the career studio podcast, where we boil down the noise and focus on the core concepts, essential for building an energizing career you love. One that is simply an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life. Anyone can do it. It's just a matter of knowing what to focus on.

Hi guys. Okay. Today I wanted to spend some time talking about my own story and what I've learned on my own journey to creating an energizing career I really love .Because I love what I do. I'm super energized every day. I look forward to my work, and it's been a journey to get here and I've learned a lot along the way, all of which has influenced my program and the work I teach and the insights I share. And so the objective here is to help you get to know me better if you're gonna be tuning in frequently and understand where I'm coming from, why I started the career studio, but also because I've found that a lot of my own hurdles, my own challenges from my journey, they've really resonated with the people that follow me..

So when something resonates, it usually provides inspiration and motivation. So that's my goal, is to say something here today that resonates with you and gives you some inspiration, courage, or conviction to take action in an efficient and aligned way in your own career in life. So yeah, I'm gonna walk you through my career, the highs, the lows, and pull out some of the insights I've cemented along the way, and then I'll recap all those insights again at the end, there's 12 nuggets or takeaways , so you can reinforce those by listening to them at the end, again.

All right, so I started my career in marketing in 2007 because I was always interested in psychology, why people behave like they do. And at 21, I liked the idea of what I imagined marketing to be.. Which was combining psychology with creativity to solve business problems. And my first job was in the New York office of the English Luxury Beauty Company, Molton Brown. And I found that job on the jobboard of my university senior year, and it was fine. I didn't love it, and the beauty industry really wasn't for me. And after a year, I actually moved to London with my then boyfriend and worked for the English soccer team, Chelsea Football Club, and I got that job through his family's connections. And it was probably one of the luckiest things that's ever happened to me. And moving to London really changed the trajectory of my life.

And for all of you football fans, yes, Chelsea was a total unique and awesome experience. I worked at the stadium. I met the players. I went to every home game for two and a half years. I learned a lot about marketing and a lot about English culture. I met one of my very best friends working at the club. It was special. But you know, sports was never really my thing. And I'd been really excited about making ads always. I'd collected, um, Absolute Vodka ads since I was 10 years old. I don't know if anyone remembers them, but they essentially, they would recreate the shape of the Absolute Vodka bottle in different contexts.

So the ad might be Absolute LA and it would be an aerial picture of an LA property with a pool, and the pool would be in the shape of an absolute vodka bottle, or it would be Absolute Paris, and it would be a shot of the typical entryway to the Parisian metro and the entryway iron would be in the shape of a bottle.

Anyways, I loved them and I had a big collection of them, like a couple hundred of them. And you know, after a few years of working in these in-house marketing roles at Molton Brown and at Chelsea, I realized I couldn't do that kind of work in-house, that I'd have to go to a big creative ad agency to do that.

But I was living in London. I was 25. I'd grown up in the US. I knew no one in advertising, and my network in London was very small. But I ended up finding my way into the biggest creative agency in town, which at the time was A M V B B D O. And I did that by telling every person I met that I wanted to get into advertising. And did they know anyone in the industry?

Eventually I found someone who knew someone who gave me some advice and introduced me to a recruiter, and the recruiter helped me get the opportunity to interview and the advice I got from him actually I was able to use in the interview and land the job.

So this is my first insight, my first piece of advice. It showed me early on the power of conversations and asking for help because I literally told everyone I met ,the barista, the cab driver, the person I'd only just met at a party. And it was through conversations, and it was through being honest about what I was looking for, about what I knew about what I didn't know, that I got the information to find a job. And also I got information that helped me impress my interviewer.

And actually, I wanna tell that story as well about that information I got. Basically this contact that I found who set me up with the recruiter. I had a networking chat with him to ask him questions about advertising. He said that given my experience, I'd been working for a couple years, that I could start in the role of account manager, which was one level above the entry level position, even though I had no experience in the industry.

And he said that if they put me in the entry level position, which was called account executive. In the UK account executive is the most junior role, whereas in the US that title is much more senior. But anyways, he said if they put you in as an account executive, you'll probably be promoted in six months. So I had that piece of information from having had that networking call.

And while I was interviewing at AMV in my final round interview, the head of the department, he asked me, What level do you think we should bring you in at ? And I told him: account manager. And he said, Well, what if we bring you in as an account executive? And I just said, Look, I wanna be here. This agency is my top choice, and if you bring me in as an account executive, I will come in and I will do the job, but I'll probably be promoted within six months.

Right. So, So that was very punchy. Right. Very confident. And, this is my second piece of advice: back yourself. Because the confidence that I expressed in saying, you know, I'll probably be promoted in six months. I later heard through the grapevine a few years later that that was one of the reasons I got the job.

And actually they did bring me in as an account manager, even though I had zero experience in the industry. And I was managing people who'd been working in the industry for a couple years. And the reason they did that is because they liked my confidence . It signals to them that I could handle a slightly more senior role, that I'd be able to navigate difficult conversations with clients.

So the insight here is you have to back yourself first before other people will back you. That signals to them that they can trust you, that they can have confidence in you because you have confidence in yourself. Okay. So working in advertising was really for the first time in my career exactly where I wanted to be.

I felt like I was in the right place for my strengths and my interests. I loved the agency I was working for, I loved the industry. I was doing interesting work with smart, creative people. And for many years I thought, this is it. I'm gonna focus on climbing the ranks and one day I'm gonna run an ad agency.

And it went on like this. I had a lot of fun. I did interesting work for four or five years until advertising just started to not fit like it used to. And I see this a lot, so you might be able to relate. Have you ever been in a job that you loved for many years where you felt like you were growing and that stopped and the job started to become tedious or frustrating or boring?

And so for me, I, I was looking around me in advertising and I saw other people who just enjoyed the role more. They were energized by the parts that I dreaded. Which inevitably is gonna make them perform better than me. And then I also looked up the career ladder at the women who had families, and I didn't want the commitments and lifestyle that they had.

I didn't think it was sustainable in the way that I wanted to be a mother and work. What was really happening is, I was growing into a new person. And the advertising industry career ladder no longer met me in the same way it had when I was more junior. And this happens to all of us. We grow, we evolve, we understand ourselves more.

We hone into different strengths, discover new interests. We develop new priorities in our lives, and therefore, what we want from our career will evolve. So here's the next piece of advice. Expect that you're gonna reach many of these inflection points in your career. When who you are and what you want no longer marries up against what you do for work.

This idea that you just figure out the thing and then execute on that for the duration of your career, that's an antiquated model. So this is why it's so important to know how to navigate these moments. This is why I built the career studio, because they're gonna happen many times throughout your life.

And if you don't know how to move through these moments, you're going to end up treading water in place for ages or making a hasty decision just to get out of the environment you no longer want to be in. But then that hasty decision isn't well thought through, and the new environment also isn't a good fit.

And so for me, because I didn't have me, right, because I didn't have the career studio, this is exactly what happened to me. I didn't know how to navigate this period of transition, this period of growth, and things started to go awry. Right. I panicked. I thought because I was 30, I was so old and I had better figure out my shit before I was too old

And from that place of panic, I was frantic to make a decision. I had this belief that I needed to figure it all out quickly so I didn't stall in my upward trajectory and, You know, I am a typical high achiever, very much unlearning a lot of that, but at that time, very much in this high achiever mentality of I have to do something that looks good, right? And so I thought, okay, you know, I'm just gonna do an MBA, because a lot of people in my network have done that. It has that external stamp of approval. It's kind of this socially sanctioned way of figuring out what comes next. I could be confused and lost while doing something that looked good to other people.

And I thought to myself that in this process I'm gonna get all this training and a lot of important business skills that I really need, or that I thought I really needed. Accounting, finance, strategy. I was like, I need that stuff. I don't have it, I need to round out my experience and get that stuff. But I never really considered, did I actually need accounting, finance, and strategy.

What kind of role I didn't ever consider. What kind of role did I want on the other side and how would an MBA facilitate that? Was I actually interested in the coursework? Was I actually interested in the post MBA career paths? I didn't really spend a lot of time there. I just, was like, an mba looks good and, I probably need it, so let me just plow ahead. Let me muscle through the gmat, the application process, even though I found it all pretty tedious and not that exciting. I even visited the school I eventually went to INSEAD and yeah, I enjoyed it in this beautiful little town outside of Paris, but I wasn't like, Hell yeah, I can't wait.

Because I wasn't that excited about the mba. It was more just a decision to end my confusion, and I had this external stamp of approval, this socially sanctioned way of exploring what comes next in your career. And I was just in this perspective of, I'll make it work. I kind of treated it like a class in school that I wasn't interested in, but I just had to take to graduate.

Right. I muscled through it and a lot of my clients are really smart and they're used to just muscling through things to get the grades or the accolade.

Anyways, unsurprisingly, I found my MBA was not a good fit. The coursework was very hard for me. I'm much more of a creative person than quantitative, and most of it I just found relatively uninteresting. You know, the majority of jobs being recruited for. I wasn't excited by, and I had to work so much to keep up that I burned out halfway through the year and I had to take the summer off instead of interning. And you know, on the plus side, I did a unique international one year program. You know, so it was accelerated. It wasn't two years out.

That gave me an amazing network of people from all over the world. And I also traveled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia. So, you know, it wasn't all bad. I did learn a lot about myself, specifically what I didn't want and what I wasn't good at. But you know, for an extremely hefty price tag of a hundred k plus dollars.

So I don't regret things because everything teaches you something. So I don't regret my MBA, but I definitely did it for the wrong reasons. And there's no denying that I am not a typical MBA student. So it's unsurprising that I didn't feel like I fit in or that it was in alignment for me. So three pieces of advice here that I wanna share from that chapter in my journey.

One, it is okay to feel confused and lost. Don't panic. It doesn't mean that you've done something wrong. You want to be okay with feeling a bit confused, feeling a bit lost, because making a decision for the sake of just getting out of your current environment or just for the sake of making a decision, it's not gonna be well considered.

It's just gonna lead you to something else that isn't right. And plus the research shows that decisions made from a negative place, right? Panic. They're not gonna be as good as those made from a neutral or positive place. Transitions take time. You have to take stock of the new person you've become. You have to have lots of conversations that shed light on your questions and concerns, and you have to leave space to explore and try new things.

So don't be afraid of the confusing transition period. It's normal, and if you keep exploring through your confusion, eventually you're gonna figure out what's next .And it's gonna be something that is right instead of just something that is quick. Two, second piece of advice, don't pursue an advanced degree to help you figure out what you wanna do, A big investment, a second degree.

So instead, you wanna have done the work to figure out the specific direction you want to go, and then have confirmed through conversations that the advanced degree is either required to help you get there, or you're just very clear on exactly how the degree is gonna help you get closer to the thing that you wanna do.

Okay. Third piece of advice. Really be mindful when you find yourself just muscling through something. Obviously, hard work is important, but you wanna make sure that the hard work is going towards a future you are excited about. The hard work should feel hard, but also exciting and interesting and rewarding. What you're working towards should feel energizing and fun. When you're working towards something you don't really care about or you aren't sure how or why your work matters, this is how you get into burnout territory.

Okay, so back to my story. Out of my mba, I actually ended up getting recruited for a job at a tech startup in New York doing smart home security. Essentially a security camera for the home that connects to an app on your phone. I mostly took it, not because I was particularly excited about that product, but I took it because I felt the tech industry was hot and that the experience would look good on my CV and that I should learn a lot about marketing in a startup.

And that seemed like a responsible use of my time to make me a desirable candidate in today's job market. And notably, going into that job, I, I wasn't excited to tell people what I was doing. I wasn't like, Yeah, I got this awesome job, I'm super stoked about it. It was like I was almost embarrassed, so I kind of dreaded it because I've never really been interested in tech or apps or digital products, not really my bag.

And so surprise, surprise, I really did not have a good time in that job. My apathy around tech did not change just because I was working at a hot tech startup. I still did not care. I didn't care about the versions of the app. I didn't care about the technical features. I didn't care about working with engineers. I didn't care about the product. I didn't care about the industry in general. I literally did not care.

And because I didn't care, this just made my job more painful. It took more energy for me to complete my tasks because I had to first overcome my apathy in order to do them. So that meant I was more tired. That meant I was slower. That meant I wasn't as high performing as the other people in the office. And then when the startup started to struggle, I got made redundant and again, I took another job for the wrong reasons. I took it from a place of panic. I took like the first opportunity that was offered to me at an even earlier stage startup where I was the first non-engineering hire.

I took it just so I would have a job and I took it because I still believed I needed to show the world that I could excel in marketing at a high growth startup. Because I was just so focused on getting a job. I really didn't do my due diligence on the founder or on the structure of the role. And so it ended up being a terrible fit culturally.

And in terms of scope, I was stressed every day going into work. I did not have the support I would've needed given my background to excel. And I cried all the time because of my interactions with the founder. So I hated that job, and he eventually fired me after six months. And this was a wake up call. And I will talk about that wake up call in a second. But three pieces of advice here.

One, don't choose something because of how you think it's gonna look to others. This is the surest way to take you away from yourself, to get you out of alignment. Yes, okay. The title may look good on LinkedIn and when you tell people you might feel good for a hot second, but doing a job that makes you miserable is gonna bleed into the rest of your life and you'll feel miserable all the time.

And this is your life and no title is worth that. Two, always ask yourself if you're excited to do the work, ask yourself if you think you'll have fun. Really, I think we do not put enough importance on how important it is to have fun because the weeks and night before starting both of those jobs, I was not excited. I was doing it from a very rational place about how I think they'd look about the experience I thought I would get that I thought I needed.

While strategic moves in your career are often required, and I'm gonna talk about one later, you have to know where they're leading and you have to be excited about that destination. So the reason I was taking them is not because I knew what I wanted to do next after that, but I was like, Oh, I just think it'll look good to be working at a tech startup. And that'll just position me well to get other desirable options.

Third piece of advice. Remember that you're interviewing them just as much as they're interviewing you, so don't be afraid to ask former employees what it was like working there. Ask the person that's gonna be your boss directly, how they run projects, what level of autonomy you'll have, what kind of support you'll have to learn and grow. Whatever is important to you. Make sure you get an answer first before you accept. Right. If you're a new mother, ask them how many people on the team have families, how do they manage their commitments to their families alongside work? And just see what they respond. You'll see a lot from their response.

Okay, so back to my story, getting fired, that was the wake up call I needed to really hit home to myself that I was on the wrong path and it was time to do the thing, not that looked good, but that I actually enjoyed. Luckily, very luckily for me, I had started doing some volunteer coaching on the side and I was really, really, really enjoying it.

But then the hurdle became getting over the perception I had that coaching wasn't a serious or legitimate career for someone with my education and professional background. I thought it wasn't intellectual enough. I thought it was too fluffy, too woo woo. I thought that Tony Robbins was cringe and I didn't wanna be professionally associated with him. And my parents, who I love very much, didn't really get what I was doing, you know, was kind of beyond what they knew in their own lives and social circle, cuz coaching is pretty new. As a profession.

And so they questioned me. Is this a real career? Is this serious? And so I had to come to terms with the fact that if I did coaching, I would be doing something that my parents didn't really approve of. And for a lot of people, this hurdle is really hard to get over on their own without someone helping them reframe or manage their perspective and help them be Courageous and true to themselves. And you know, with some clients, I spend a lot of time here.

Luckily for me, because I, I wasn't working with a coach or a therapist or someone who could specifically guide me. What ultimately got me to pursue coaching, despite my insecurities and fears and the tacit disapproval of my parents, was that I had been miserable for two and a half years doing an MBA and working in tech and feeling not good at my job and not interested in the work, and not fitting into the cultures I was in.

Plus I'd just been fired. So, and I knew coaching was the only thing I really was enjoying and genuinely excited by. And I felt naturally good at it. And I knew, I knew in my bones that it would be fun and feel good and sustained my interest. And knowing that allowed me to say to myself and my parents, I'm doing it anyways.

Okay. So this was lucky because oftentimes this level of conviction isn't available. You don't always have this level of conviction about something. But I did, and that really allowed me to make the pivot alone, you know, without any support. So here's two pieces of advice. One, create space to foster your interests. The reason I knew coaching would be a good fit is that I had been creating space to explore this interest in a really low commitment way on the side while I was working for these startups, because I'd always been interested in coaching since early days of advertising and the startup jobs were so boring that I was looking for something more interesting to do.

And so I started by networking with coaches. This is when I had the, um, the first startup job. Then one of them recommended a book that I read, and then I really liked that book and because I really liked that book, I looked for some opportunities to do some volunteer coaching and then I really enjoyed that and so I looked to get more training through a certification program.

So, you know, I did this bit by bit and I only did more because what I was doing felt good. So creating space to foster your interests on the side is how you find something that you're really excited about. I was able to explore coaching without committing to anything serious, and as I continued to enjoy it, I made more time and more space for it.

The second piece of advice here is to trust what you're excited about because no one else can know what's best for you. You have to make that decision. And in these moments, you wanna check in with your body. How does the idea feel? If you're talking yourself into something that you're not excited about, then you're gonna be ignoring important signals that are coming from your body.

And in this case, for me, my body felt really excited about coaching. I knew I would be good at it, and I knew I would enjoy it. So trust what you're excited about and then just own that, because ultimately if you own what gets you going, then the other people in your life, they're gonna get on board even if they're reticent at first. Right? So now my parents are really proud that I have my own business and that I'm a coach, cuz they've seen that I've been successful at it and that I really enjoy it.

So back to the story, after the startup firing experience, I took a job at a training and coaching company called The Fast Forward Group. Which, by the way, if you ever wanna bring coaching or personal development to your team, to your business, it's an amazing program. Check it out. I joined at a fairly junior position, which is all they were recruiting for, but I took it for the experience because I knew Fast Forward was a great company and I wanted to work in the training and coaching industry so that I could explore it because there's many ways of becoming a coach.

Fast forward works with Fortune 500 businesses, and I thought maybe I wanted to go in house and work in training and development for a big business, but I wasn't sure. And so I knew this would be a great way to test some of my ideas and to figure out how and where I wanted to build a career while working with a great team and a great product. And so that's what I did. I spent two and a half years helping fast forward grow their business while learning a ton about coaching and the personal development industry. And this allowed me to figure out my next move where I wanted to be within the industry and, who I wanted to help and how.

And so this is my last piece of advice, this experience I call a stepping stone role. A stepping stone role will likely only last a few years, but it's gonna help your trajectory on a path that you're excited about. It's a strategic move with a clear outcome on the other side. It makes doing something that isn't quite right for me, right? I didn't quite have the role I wanted. I wasn't getting to coach in that role. I was still doing marketing. I was getting paid less than what I wanted, but that role was palatable because I knew how it was helping me on my path. As opposed to the tech roles where I was just doing it because I thought it looked good because I thought I needed it, not because I knew how I wanted to use it to grow and evolve my career.

At Fast Forward I was able to coach on the side. And over time this became the thing that I realized I loved the most. And through my exposure to the industry by working at Fast Forward, I realized that to do what I wanted to do in the way I wanted to do it, I had to run my own business because I never thought I would be an entrepreneur.

Even during my MBA, I wasn't taking the entrepreneurial classes. But I came to realize that that was the best solution for me, and eventually I got to a stage where the only way to grow my coaching business, which I had been building on the side , was to quit my full-time job at Fast Forward. And I didn't force this against the timeline. I wasn't like, Okay, in two years I need to quit, et cetera. I just did it until it became apparent and that when I had enough financial runway to just go, full time..

So this is how I arrived here running my own business. It was a messy process, but that's okay. I spent at least three and a half years, totally lost .Making decisions from the wrong place. And of course I'm talking to you now because I ultimately figured it out, but what my own mistakes inspired in me is how do I make transitions like this easier? How do I bring structure to the chaos and the mess that is building an energizing career you love? And so that's what the Career Studio is all about.

Giving people the tools to navigate their own transitions with much more intention and structure. It doesn't mean that you won't go through periods of ambiguity or uncertainty. It doesn't mean you won't feel lost, but if you know what to focus on through this period, it makes it much more palatable and much shorter, importantly shorter, and it means you spend more time doing the things that interest you.

And when you ultimately create a career that's an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life, you're going to have more energy and therefore you're gonna be able to create more impact. And really, that's what we need in the world. People with energy, using their gifts to create impact.

Okay, so let's recap the twelve takeaways from my story. One, conversations where you ask for help are essential and powerful. People are the lifeblood of your career. It's how you open the door to new places and learn things you didn't know before. It's how you move through confusion. It's how you get nuggets of information that are gonna help you. So if you are feeling lost, start talking to people.

Two, back yourself. You have to believe in yourself first. If you want other people to believe in you three, that you're gonna have many of these inflection points in your career when who you are and what you want doesn't marry up against what you're now doing for work. So it's normal to grow out of jobs. You haven't messed up. Nothing is wrong.

Four, it is okay to spend time feeling confused and lost. Don't panic. Don't make a decision to try and not feel confused and lost. Just start exploring, start having conversations. Eventually you'll find something that fits the new person you've become. Five, don't pursue an advanced degree to help you figure out what you wanna do. They're expensive and you could end up on the other side still not clear. So make sure first that you know what you wanna do next, and then make a decision if the advanced degree will help you get there. Six, hard work is important, but be mindful of just muscling through something because you think that you should. You wanna make sure that your hard work is going to an outcome that you genuinely care about. You're not in school anymore. You don't have to get an A in everything. It's okay to say, This isn't for me.

Seven, don't choose something because of how you think it will look to others. The high of updating your LinkedIn profile or telling your friends and network will be a drop in the ocean of pain, you're going to feel like going into a job every day that doesn't energize or excite you. Eight, ask yourself if you're excited to do the work. Ask yourself if you think you'll have fun. If you have fun, you're gonna have energy, and this is going to make you good at your job and is gonna carry you through the times when you need to work hard on things that are hard.

Nine, remember, you're interviewing them just as much as they're interviewing you. Make sure you know what you need to know before accepting, and don't be afraid to be direct about it. This is a candidate's market. You're a hot commodity. Own it. Ten, create space alongside your day job to foster your interests. This is how you take those nascent ideas about what could be interesting and exciting and see if they hold water.

It's how you find something you're excited about. Passion even. And also, it's fun. It's fun to have other things going on outside of work besides friends and family. Eleven, trust what you're excited about. No one else can know what's best for you. Ultimately, if you own the things you're excited about, other people in your life are gonna get on board even if they're not on board at first And last number twelve, stepping stone roles are a great tool for when you're transitioning industries. These are roles that aren't quite right, but you know how they're supporting you to get you where you wanna go, and so this makes the fact that they're not quite right, okay.

All right, so that's the episode. I hope that my story has been insightful and motivating and that there has been a nugget or two in here that you can apply immediately to your own career in life. And in the next few episodes, I'm also gonna start interviewing some of my past clients and how they've navigated their own career transition so that you can learn from them too. So I'm super excited for those episodes. Keep an eye out and have a great day. 

Hey, if you're ready to create an energizing career you love, one that is simply an extension of who you are and how you want to live your life. Then I wanna invite you to schedule a consultation. We'll get to the bottom of what's going on for you. And exactly where you need to focus to bring your career and life into alignment. It's free. Just head on over to thecareer.studio/schedule to find a time that works for you, or if you're enjoying and getting value from these episodes, I'd love you to leave a short review on whatever podcast app you use.

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