Episode 1: Your Brand - Career Cornerstone 1

The Career Studio Podcast Ep


At the heart of creating an energizing career is getting in touch with your own brand. And I mean brand in the most authentic sense of the word. Not who you think you should be or what other people ask you to be, but who are you at your core? This is all about authenticity.

The reason this is so essential is because it takes less energy to be yourself. If you design your career around you this is when you can really thrive and create the most impact. The thing is you waste a lot of your energy getting yourself motivated to do something that bores you or produce work that doesn't play to your strengths. And instead when you’re aligned you're doing the things that come naturally to you and all your energy can go into creating the impact. (And you have more fun doing it and more energy when you're done).

Join me on the podcast to discover exactly what’s getting in your way of creating an energizing career you love and how to clarify your authentic brand and use that as the north star for your career, the map for career fulfillment.

You’ll learn in this episode

  • The two most common hurdles that prevent people from creating an energizing career they love.
  • The three core components of your authentic brand and how to define them for yourself.
  • How to use your brand to generate career ideas.
  • How to manage the confusion and uncertainty around creating something new.

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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, I'm Anne Benveniste. Career coach, and founder of the career studio.

Welcome to the very first episode of the podcast. I'm so excited to be here. Starting a podcast has been something I've been thinking about for years. And so it just feels incredibly gratifying to be sitting here in my office in Brooklyn, recording this first episode. And, in episode five, you're gonna be able to hear my whole story and more background on me and how and why I built the career studio.

But for now I wanted to start the podcast, the first four episodes with an overview of the foundational components, the cornerstones, as I call them for creating an aligned, energizing, rewarding career. Because, you know, let's face it. There's a lot of noise out there, right? There's a million HBR articles, books, social accounts, other podcasts, YouTube channels, all about your career.

And so when work stops working and you don't know how to fix it, where do you start? How do you navigate that confusion? What do you pay attention to? And importantly, what do you ignore? Because if you don't know where to look, you'll end up treading water and maintaining the status quo, feeling dissatisfied or bored, or you'll end up making a knee jerk decision just to make a decision or a decision based on faulty assumptions.

I definitely did this in my own career. I've seen hundreds of clients do the same. I see it happening all the time in my social circles. And this is why I started the career studio. To give you a structured process to navigate these inflection points, which let's face it are gonna happen again and again, throughout your career, because inevitably who you are and what you want will evolve.

And my intention with this podcast is for you to feel like you have a playbook that you can come back to, to when you're in these moments in your career in life. So when it comes to structure, I really wanted to make it easy to think about. When we give our brains less options to consider it makes solving challenges easier.

And you know, the good news is that when you boil down the ocean of noise out there, there's four themes that come up time and time again, this is what I call the four cornerstones. Think of them like the foundation of a house, right? You need a sturdy foundation to build a house. Equally,you need a sturdy foundation to build your career.

So the four areas are; your brand, your people, your mindset and your time.

And each of these areas has concepts you need to learn and tools you'll want to apply. And when you learn the concepts and apply the tools, you'll effectively be strengthening your own foundation. And the result of strengthening your foundation is creating an aligned, energizing, rewarding career. One that is simply an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life.

So let's get into it. In this first episode, I'm gonna take you through thinking about your brand. This is really at the heart of creating an energizing career. And what I mean by brand is the most authentic interpretation of that word. Not who you think you should be or what other people ask you to be, but who are you at your core? It's all about authenticity. And the reason this is so essential is because it takes less energy to be yourself. If you design your career around you, this is when you can really thrive. This is when you can create the most impact.

Think about all of the energy you waste, revving your engines to get interested in or deliver something that doesn't play to your strengths. Something that is really outside of your wheelhouse. You have so much less energy to do the actual work and to create the value from that work than you do when you're doing stuff that really fits.

Okay. Think about the parts of your work that you enjoy the most and how fun they are and how much energy you get from them. And obviously every job is gonna have less enjoyable parts. I'm not saying any job is perfect, but what if your role could be mostly the parts of work you enjoy? I want you to consider for a second, how much more energized you would be. If what you did for work was simply an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life.

When you're aligned, you're doing things that come naturally to you and all your energy can go into creating impact, and you're gonna have more fun doing it and more energy when you're done. Consider, if you could just show up every day and get paid to be yourself, wouldn't that be awesome?.

This is the philosophy behind this cornerstone and why it's so important to get clear on your brand. So you can design your career as much as possible around you. But, before I take you through how you do this, I wanna take you through the two main reasons I see that people aren't doing something for work, that's aligned with who they are, and both of them are totally normal. They're not a problem. It's just as important that you know what they are so we can move around them.

So the first reason is people are paying attention to the wrong things. They're doing what they think they should do instead of tuning into themselves. I often describe this as fitting yourself into a success formula. What do I mean by that? A success formula is a way of designing your career and life. You've been sanctioned by someone else, your family, your friends, society in general. Maybe you became a lawyer or you decided to work in advertising because one of your parents did that. Maybe a lot of your peers from your college or university went into tech after graduation or all went on and did an MBA. So you did that too. Maybe you fell into something through inertia because they were recruiting on campus, or maybe you chose a company because you thought the brand name or industry would look good to others, whatever it is, you've made decisions based on what you think you should do with your career.

You've rationally looked out into the world for what has been successful for other people, and then gone after that, without considering too carefully, if this is the right formula for you. This is a very common habit for high achievers who tend to just throw themselves into things and work super hard to create success at all costs. It's how you got good grades in school. You just make it work. And I say this being a massive, mostly reformed overachiever.

The problem is when you try and make it work, eventually we get frustrated or bored, or we burn out because you're spending all your energy trying to fit yourself into something that doesn't quite fit. You're doing things you're not that interested in or roles that feel taxing because you think it's what you have to do, what you should do. You're used to just making it work because that's how you excelled in school. Right? You had to perform well in all of the subjects, not just the ones you liked. It takes a lot of energy to live up to your shoulds.

Because shoulds require you to fit yourself into a mold of what you think you should be and fitting yourself into a mold takes energy, which just leaves less energy for everything else. Okay. So this is the first reason. just paying attention to what you think you should do, designing your career in the direction of should.

The other reason that I see that prevents people from creating an energizing aligned career is you've just grown out of your role. So maybe you did something that worked really well. Let's say when you were in your twenties and you thought it was gonna be THE THING, but now that you're entering your thirties, you're over it, right. You're looking at the roles ahead of you and just, you're not that excited. When I joined the advertising industry in my mid twenties, I loved it. I thought I was gonna climb the ranks and run an agency until five years later, I fell out of love with the industry. And I wasn't excited about moving up into the higher levels and I no longer felt like it was a good fit.

This is so normal, we're constantly evolving the idea that you just find a career path out of university and then execute on that until you're 65 is not relevant to the work landscape anymore. It's normal for you to reach inflection points. When you evolve into a new person, you have new priorities in your life. And the career you have is no longer a good fit.

What's essential in these moments is that you don't think that you've done something wrong. Don't panic, just because you're confused or lost. And don't default to a success formula. Don't default to what you think you should do, just so you can make a decision.

It's okay to spend some time feeling lost. It's okay. To feel confused. It does not mean you've messed up. It's how, you know, you're evolving. That's how, you know, it's time to explore. And we'll talk a lot about how to explore through confusion in other episodes, but for now, just know that the reason you're out of alignment could be that you've just evolved into someone new and that's totally cool.

So. Where to start?. We wanna start by first looking inwards at ourselves. We wanna use ourselves as the mold for our career and take stock of who we are right now. This is about defining your brand first and using this as the compass. And what I'm about to take you through is a sense check. It's not a holy grail, it's not this or bust, but it's gonna provide you with a set of hypotheses.

So you can start exploring through your confusion in a structured way. It's how you begin to take action, but don't stress about it being perfect and don't be super rigid about it either. Okay. So the way I like to define a brand is at the heart, there are three things; your strengths, your interests, and your environmental priorities.

And I'm gonna take you through these three components. So you can really understand what I'm talking about and start to use them on yourself. Okay. So let's start with strengths. Here you wanna think about what are the things that come so easily to you that they don't really feel like work. Actions that you take that feel fun and energizing, and just like being yourself, you wanna design a role that lets you take full advantage of your strengths, most of the time.

Strengths, I think about as the specific function within any business. So two watch outs here. You wanna make sure that you don't include strengths that you don't enjoy. So I'm pretty good at organizing a large group of people to do activities, but I don't really like that because it's a lot of logistics and I find it a bit tedious. People might tell you're really good at stuff, but you don't actually like doing it. So you don't have to include that. Right. It just is just about stuff that you like. Then be mindful of adjectives. So things like, oh, you're really hardworking. You're really diligent. That's awesome. You can be super proud of yourself for those things. And for the purposes of this exercise, we can't create a role around being diligent. It's more about how you show up as a colleague, as a leader.

So, let me give you a few examples here. Examples of strengths might be mediating conversations, organizing logistics, understanding people's motivations, analyzing data, connecting people to each other, managing a team and helping them grow, researching a topic, presenting to a group of people.

You wanna think about structuring a role for yourself or getting yourself into a role that requires you to use your strengths in order to be successful. So I'll give you an example. For me, I consider my strengths to be understanding and connecting to people quickly, structuring and relaying information in a digestible way and motivating people to take action.

So coaching, the actual function of coaching is therefore a great fit for me because it requires me to use these strengths in order to be a good coach. So by getting into coaching, I'm putting myself in my sweet spot and I just get to show up every day and be myself. It feels easy because I just have to be myself.

Of course, I'm supporting that with training and structure and hard work. But it's building off of a foundation that at its core is really well suited for me. So just pick three to five core concepts for your strengths and articulate them in a way that is clear and specific to you. And I'll say here a side note that for a long time, I wanted my strengths to be something else. I wanted to be more analytical and strategic. And I put myself in environments where these types of strengths were required to try and force myself to be better at them. But that did not work because I had to work twice as hard as everyone else who were more naturally suited to those things, just to meet the baseline.

So for example, when I did my MBA, I am not a quantitative person at all. It takes me a long time to do that kind of work. And I was in an environment, loads of people where that just came really easily to them. So, homework or assignments or studying for tests would maybe take them an hour and it would take me days.

So you really wanna be honest with yourself, really look for the things that come naturally to you and embrace those. Ask your family, ask your friends, ask your colleagues, what are my strengths? And then own them. That's really the key. Everything changed for me when I owned that I'm not a quant person, I'm not particularly analytical, really where my strengths are in building relationships in structuring thinking. And that allowed me to open the door to coaching.

Okay. Now let's talk about interests. You want to apply your strengths to the things that interest you. So think about this, like the qualities of the industry you'd be in. What kind of products do you think are cool? What problems do you like thinking about? Think about the podcast you listen to, the articles you share, the YouTube videos you watch, the nonfiction books you read. What do you love discussing with friends? For me, I love thinking about how to live a better life. Self-improvement. Why we act the way we do. I was always helping my friends think through how to navigate their career. I loved doing it. And so the conversations I now have with my clients are conversations I've been having my whole life. So deciding to focus my coaching. Coaching is my strength. To focus my coaching on the topic that interests me, which is helping people create careers they love, is a really good match for the things that my brain enjoys thinking about anyways.

Right. So here's some examples, maybe you like thinking about why people make purchase decisions, maybe you're super interested in gender equality. Maybe you enjoy thinking about how to connect more founders to funding. The list is unending, but it doesn't have to be super specific. Like the name of an industry, just has to be a little phrase or something that you enjoy thinking about, or the type of product that you think is cool. You know, maybe you like physical products instead of digital products. Maybe you like, you know, physical products that have a quirky edge, whatever. What makes you excited? What do you think is cool?

Another way of thinking about interest is thinking about people, you know who have careers that interest you, that you're maybe even jealous of. You can know them, you can know of them, but what are they doing? What industries are they in. For years before I became a coach, I would always think about this one executive coach I'd met when I was working in advertising and that she had such a cool job. And couldn't, I just be like, Alison?. That just seemed like the dream career, but I, I never allowed myself to really entertain that, which is a, another conversation for another podcast. But my point here is this is a great indicator that you are excited about a certain space.

A couple other points here, you know, you might have a variety of topics that interest you and that's okay. You don't have to pick one, just put them all down and think as well about the flavor of the space you wanna be spending time in.

Is it high growth? Is it a global multinational? And remember you don't have to be the traditional fit to work in a space you're interested in, for example, you might be super into music. You love going to gigs. You love finding music. You love sharing music, but you don't consider yourself, especially musically talented. You maybe you've played around with it and it's just never quite clicked. That doesn't mean you can't work in music. There's so many types of people that are involved in the music industry. Maybe you're very quantitative right, and analytical. Well, great. Could you work in data science or could you work in finance within the music industry? So that's just a little example of how to start to open the aperture in terms of what's possible for you and your interests.

Okay. So now let's talk about the third category of brand, which is all about your environmental priorities, because look, it's all well and good doing something that place your strengths and interest, but if you're not making enough money to live the lifestyle you want, then it's not gonna be a good fit. If you're not working with people that energize you, you're gonna feel depleted. If it's an - always on nights and weekends - culture and you're trying to raise two kids under three, it's probably not gonna be a good fit. So you wanna ask yourself, what do I need in my environment in order to be in alignment? What kind of people do I wanna work with? Do I wanna run a team? What kind of flexibility do I need to make space for my personal life and the things that are important to me? What kind of salary do I need to live the lifestyle that I want? Do I wanna be remote? Do I want my job to take me outside, around the world, out to events with my clients? All these contextual elements are critical to consider.

To create an energizing career you love, you want to intentionally think through each of these three categories, your strengths, your interests, your environmental priorities. Use the prompts I gave you. And then combine them together into a list. When you've pulled this list together, you're gonna start to see things. You're gonna be able to generate ideas, hypotheses of what could be a good fit. And let me just give you some very quick examples of what hypotheses could sound like. 

Hypotheses one: work for a food focused organization. Hypotheses two: do research for a purpose driven business maybe focused on gender equality. Hypothesis three: help family offices connect to entrepreneurs or explore starting my own business or do something in sports betting.

You can see from these examples, they're pretty broad, right? It's not a super specific title with a super specific industry. Because if you have no idea what comes next, you have to start with these general hypotheses and then explore them. And we're gonna talk a lot about how to explore those hypotheses in the subsequent episodes, but for now, that's all you're trying to get to.

With my clients in my work, I've built a tool with these inputs called your north star. That allows you to think through all of them in a really clear way, pull your answers together in a digestible format. And then we use this as the foundation of our work together. And I think what's so amazing about this tool and doing this work in general. You're helping yourself reconnect to your gut, strengthen that connection to your gut. Because most people who are out of alignment have lost connection to their gut. And so this process is kind of an analytical way to begin to reestablish that connection. Because when you start to find career opportunities that are a great fit for your brand, you're gonna feel excited. And this excitement is your gut. You wanna constantly be asking yourself, what am I excited about? What feels fun? What feels energizing? We don't ask ourselves enough,these questions. They're so important for getting you into a place that feels really good for you. So spend your time thinking through your strengths, interests, and environmental priorities, and allow yourself to be excited. Allow yourself to dream. Don't put any barriers on what you pull out. Right. Really think about what could be awesome. And in the process, you're gonna get a much better sense of who you are and what matters to you. And this is gonna allow you to feel more clear and confident about the things that excite you. And this will allow you to start trusting your feelings of excitement. And after a while, you'll come to recognize this feeling as your gut and begin to trust the sensation without having to spend loads of time in your head, weighing up pros and cons.

This is one of the most important things I work on with my clients as it's the shortcut to so many things that are important to you .When you really know yourself and trust your instincts, and it all starts with your brand, this is your initial blueprint for thriving.

Okay. So that's the process. That's some of the core concepts. And I think I'll finish off the episode by talking a little bit about, you know, the reason that most people don't do this. The reason is that approaching your career in this way can feel scary because you aren't necessarily following a pre existing path, but rather creating your own, right. There's a comfort in the corporate ladder. There's a comfort in something that's already been designed where you know exactly how it's supposed to evolve. In advertising, there was a very clear rung of how you moved up and you knew exactly what you had to do to get to each rung. What initially is gonna feel easier is just following the inertia of where you already are,following a preexisting ladder or putting yourself in a success formula, that you see accepted by your community. And frankly, there's nothing wrong with that, if it's working for you, right. There's plenty of people who let's say their parents were lawyers. They decided to become lawyers and they love being lawyers. And that's awesome. But, if you're feeling lost, frustrated, bored, burned out, then here's the thing.

There is a price to having that level of certainty about how your career is going to evolve. And there is a price for having that external approval of a success formula. And the price is you have to give up parts of yourself to fit into it. This is why you're out of alignment because you're fitting yourself into a mold someone else has designed. And really what's required to create an energizing career is to be willing to spend some time in confusion and lack of clarity. You're like an Explorer charting your own course through unexplored territory. You have a sense of where you'd like to go. You have a rough map of who you are, but you don't know how it's all gonna come together. And this is uncomfortable. I totally get it. But the only way out is through.

And yes, upfront the path towards career alignment, creating an energizing career is more uncertain and it takes more effort because you have to design it for you and figure out exactly how to do that. You have to carve your own unique path, but the payoff is looking forward to work. The payoff is having fun and feeling energized. The payoff is impact and feeling like your gifts are being used to create the things that matter to you. The payoff is creating a career that is simply an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life. And let me tell you, once you get there, it is freaking awesome, and you can totally do it.

So own your brand, your strengths, your interests, your environmental priorities, and design your career around that. Because it takes less energy to be yourself. This is how you get into alignment, how you thrive, how you create the impact you're here to make. The map is not out there. It's not in other people's opinions. The map is inside of you. You just have to start paying attention and trusting yourself.

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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