When I was in high school, I went out for the cheerleading squad. I was always very athletic as a kid, but growing up in Rochester, New York in the sixties, there weren’t really a lot of opportunities for girls to play school sports. Cheerleading was one of the few outlets girls had for being physically active, and being naturally athletic, I could do all the tricks and jumps, so it was hard to turn me down even if I didn’t have the “look” of a cheerleader. I made the team, and I was so excited…until I came home and announced it to my family. Especially my father.
My father was a man of few words, and most of the time, I could do no wrong in his eyes. But when I told him I was going to be a cheerleader, he looked like he’d seen a ghost. He broke his silence: “I don’t like the idea of you jumping around in front of a lot of people yelling and screaming. I don’t think it’s very ladylike.” I was devastated. Thankfully, my mom was more open to it, and she said, “We’ll discuss it later.” I never heard another complaint.
Looking back, I realize my dad was just protective of his little girl. Of course, years later, I can see that my experience as a cheerleader ended up informing almost every job I took as an adult. It turns out I’m a natural cheerleader. It’s what I’m known for—not just in an athletic environment, but in life. It’s one of the reasons why I love being a career coach, and it’s why I bring that cheerleading aspect to my approach.
Here’s the thing: We all need a cheerleader once in a while. Especially when we’re in a point of transition, change, or even crisis. Looking for a new job or career is stressful, especially if you didn’t become unemployed on purpose. And while I teach important skills to help people land the job they want—sometimes we just need to be cheered on and encouraged. I love that I’m able to be there for that part of the journey.
In the short video above, I share a bit more about the cheerleading aspect of what I do and why it’s so important. Please take a look and tell me what you think! And of course, if you’re looking to find a new job or launch a career, I’m here to help. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s set you up with a free 30-minute consultation.
Let’s start with some straight talk. If you look at the economic news and the job numbers as a gauge for whether you can find work right now, you’re likely to be discouraged. Nine months into this pandemic, businesses and families alike are still struggling, and even with the vaccine now being distributed, it will be some time before the economy comes back in full force.
But…and here’s the good news…there are still jobs out there to be had. The economy may be slow, but it hasn’t stopped. Companies still need people to do things for them, and they are still willing to pay for it. The reason it looks bad is that you’re looking through the wrong lens. Let me explain.
There’s no doubt that this pandemic has changed the landscape of the workforce. I’m not talking about unemployment numbers. I’m talking about the available jobs and the way those jobs get filled. We’re used to finding work in a certain way: employers post job openings, we send in our application and resume, we go to an interview, we get hired.
Except things are different now—and not just because of the pandemic. Employers are changing the way they post jobs and hire people. Many jobs get filled without the need ever to post an opening on LinkedIn or Indeed. And that’s not likely to change just because of the vaccine. That doesn’t mean you can’t get those jobs—it just means you’re looking in the wrong places for them. The hiring process is different, so you can’t expect to get hired using the old methods. It’s a “new normal” out there, and the key to getting hired more quickly is to adapt your mindset and your methods to this new normal.
Having said that, let’s look at a few new approaches to think about concerning your job search.
Look for Problems You Can Solve, Not Job Openings.
Here’s where you stop thinking of yourself as an employee trying to get hired and instead think of yourself as a professional with certain skills that employers need. This approach requires you to think a little bit like an entrepreneur. Instead of just scoping out job postings at places you’d like to work, do a bit of investigative work and find out what problems (or “pain points”) that company has that you could provide solutions for. Then look for a way to approach the company, send an email or make a phone call, share what you do, and offer your skills as a solution. If there is no official job listing or open position (and there very well might not be), you can often open a dialogue at the company by calling human resources, or by finding and reaching out to the head of a department where your skills might be relevant. You might also find an inroad to the company through your LinkedIn connections or someone else in your network. With a bit of creativity, you can usually find your way to the right desk even if there is no active hiring going on.
Yes, that company may be hiring fewer people right now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have work that needs to be done. Chances are they’re contracting out that work to third-party companies or independent contractors, or even using automated services. If you can convince them it makes more sense to hire you than to use those other methods—you’ve just created a position for yourself where none existed before. Even if they hire you as a 1099 contractor or on a temp basis, you’ve now gotten your foot in the door.
Become an Expert
Another way employers are meeting their company’s needs is to look specifically for skilled professionals and experts and actively recruit them to do the work they need to be done. These job openings never get posted because the employer is taking an active role in approaching prospective new hires. The way you get in line for these jobs is to position yourself as one of those experts and let the employers find you. A lot of this stuff happens online nowadays, so whatever your skillset is, start posting content online that shows that you are a subject matter expert or a thought leader in that field. If your expertise is in creative home financing, for example, maybe start a blog about that. Post articles on LinkedIn, create some YouTube videos, share helpful tips on Instagram and Facebook. Develop a body of work that shows you know your stuff when it comes to home financing. When an employer in your network or on LinkedIn needs those kinds of skills, your stuff will eventually start coming up in their online searches. This approach takes a little time and effort, but it can pay off well because the tables are effectively turned. Instead of you being at the employer’s mercy to hire you, the employer comes to you already interested, trying to convince you to take the job. (That usually means a fatter paycheck, as well.)
Develop a Proof of Concept
This technique is about not just saying what you can do, but showing you can do it. Anyone can create a nice resume—that’s why employer’s desks are stacked full of them. To stand out as the solution that employer needs, look for a way to establish proof of concept. Create a portfolio of your work or a “look book” of successful projects you’ve completed at other companies. Save a few blog posts that you’ve written that demonstrate your expertise, and include those in your portfolio.
One method to develop your proof of concept is a common technique used in building a resume: the PAR method. (PAR stands for “Problem, Action, Result.”) Using this method, you:
identify a specific problem you encountered in your previous employment or activities;
describe what action you took to solve the problem; and
share the results of the action you took.
When you put together a few of these examples using the PAR method, you can share them in several places, including your portfolio, your resume, and your LinkedIn profile. The PAR method is quite effective because it helps hiring managers draw a clearer connection between what their company needs and what you can offer.
You still need a good resume, but when you send it, send a link to your portfolio as well. If you do get an interview, bring the portfolio with you or give the employer a link during your Zoom chat. Give them something to see besides just your credentials, and you’ll make a bigger impression than the best resume alone can give you.
Keep Active in Your Network
Nowadays, your professional/social network matters now more than ever when you’re looking for work. Don’t neglect your connections—keep looking for ways to stay in touch and to stay top-of-mind. Posting content as we mentioned above will help, but don’t forget to interact. Lots of job openings and referrals still happen through these channels, so while you’re working on the other things, keep tending your network.
Should you keep looking at job listings and applying for them? Of course you should. Use every possible avenue to find work. Just don’t limit yourself to the traditional methods—be aware of the changes in the work environment and start thinking creatively about how to change your approach to match those changes. I’m not saying your job search won’t still have its challenges, but just remember—the ones who succeed during times of great change are the ones who are willing to adapt, rather than resist.
Want some more specific guidance in your job search? I’m always here to help. Shoot me an email at email@example.com and let’s set you up with a free 30-minute consultation.
There are many practical things you can do to position yourself for a new/better job or a new career—and when I work with clients as a career coach, we definitely explore those things. But I can cover the same ground with two different people, both equally talented and loaded with potential, and one will find great success while the other flounders. What’s the differentiator?
One word: Mindset.
Your mindset predicts achievement. It plays a pivotal role in what you want and whether you are able to achieve it. It is a powerful tool for success in every aspect of your life, including your business and your career. The right mindset will give you wings to soar; the wrong one will limit you and cause perpetual frustration. That’s why I devote a great deal of my practice to helping my clients develop a mindset for success, and why I’m devoting a significant chunk of my upcoming book to it. Mindset matters more than any of the other practical stuff I can teach.
Fixed Mindset versus Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist and the author of the insightful book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, really pioneered this understanding of the power of mindset. She discovered that the real question of success is whether you believe qualities like intelligence, talent and creativity are fixed or changeable traits. The answer determines whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Let’s talk about the differences between these mindsets so we can see how they affect our success.
People with a fixedmindset believe that intelligence, creativity and talent are inborn, fixed and unchangeable. They therefore tend to stick to activities and experiences where they believe they will be successful and avoid new experiences where they could fail. They don’t like change. This attitude limits their success and potential.
Those with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that these qualities can be strengthened and expanded through experience, learning and challenge. A growth mindset makes you curious, resilient, and able to reach your goals and potential despite setbacks and disappointments.
Dweck believes that we all are capable of creating a growth mindset—and in today’s world where technology and business models are changing so rapidly, I believe embracing a growth mindset is vital for success.
Our mind is a powerful thing. The stories we tell ourselves, the things we believe about ourselves, can negatively or positively impact our potential for success. For example, if you think or say: “I am not good enough” or “I never could do that,” you probably won’t. If you think or say: “I got this,” “I can do this,” or “What is the worst thing that could happen?”, you will seek out new challenges and grow. It is entirely within our control to reframe stressful moments into positive ones. The power of positive thinking actually reduces stress and anxiety and boosts our can-do spirit.
Developing a Growth Mindset
If mindset determines our success level—and I believe it does—then mindset becomes our starting point. So how do you develop a growth mindset? Fellow career coach and Forbes writer Caroline Gastrillon offers some practical tips for doing so, which I’d like to pass along here:
Embrace failure. View failure as a positive rather than a negative. Every failure is a learning experience and an opportunity to grow.
Become a lifelong learner. Be curious about everything. Gastrillon points out that 85 percent of successful people read two or more educational/ business development or self improvement books a month.
Seek out challenge. Get outside your comfort zone; that’s where the magic happens.
Go beyond your perceived limits. We grow by pushing past what we think we can do.
Ask for feedback. Knowing you are responsible for you own growth, have the confidence to ask for feedback and learn from it. Creating a diversified network of contacts encourages and supports a growth mindset and is a great resource for feedback.
Don’t procrastinate. Explore the power and energy that a growth mindset can have on your career. If you want more details and assistance, I’m here to help. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s set up a free 30-minute consultation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our world, to put it mildly. Nowhere can we see this more clearly than in the workforce, where the entire employment landscape changed practically overnight. A lot has been said about the spike in unemployment starting with the shutdowns—but the fact is, a LOT of people who didn’t lose their jobs just began working remotely.
More than half of us, in fact.
That’s right. Before the pandemic, the number of people in the workforce working regularly from home was just over five percent. Shortly after the quarantines started, that number jumped to 62 percent, according to Gallup. What’s more, even as the economy has gradually started back up, many of these workers have never gone back to the office. More recent surveys now put the percentage of remote workers at about 40 percent. Some companies have even made remote working a permanent part of their structure!
What this means for you is that if you’re currently seeking employment but prefer to work from home, not only are you now in the majority of the population, but there are now many more industries and companies that offer telework as an option than even a few months ago. There are likely to be at least a few remote job openings that fall within your area of expertise, or at least close to it. If you’re looking for a work-from-home position, here are a few of the fields and industries (in no particular order) where you’re most likely to find job openings at this time.
Remote instructors of all kinds are in high demand right now due to the sheer number of students learning virtually. From grade schools to colleges, from tutoring to a plethora of online education platforms, people who can teach, write curriculum and perform other training functions have an abundance of options. Even if you’re not credentialed, if you’re an expert in your field and have the ability to train others, you should be able to find some opportunities to put that expertise to work.
Even before the pandemic, accountants were a growing commodity among small and large companies alike, and that trend is only likely to continue. Since accounting can easily be done from home, many companies with open accountant positions now allow for telework—not to mention the growing number of outsourced bookkeeping companies that need personnel for their client base of startups.
If you’re tech-savvy, you’ve got a lot of work-from-home options right now. Not only are major tech companies like Google and Twitter moving to mostly or completely remote work, but there’s a high demand for all forms of development, whether it’s software/game development, website development, systems administration, etc. Even a lot of IT work can be done remotely nowadays.
Online marketing was already a huge and growing sector before the pandemic hit—and now that companies need the Internet more than ever for their marketing and sales efforts, the demand for these skills is through the roof. Since digital marketing lives completely online, the transition to remote work is seamless. (Bonus points if you’re skilled in social media marketing.)
Creative Fields (e.g., Design, Writing)
In the 21st-century marketplace, content is king. If you’re skilled in creative areas like graphic design, UX/UI design, copywriting, etc., you can find a wealth of opportunities at or for companies that rely heavily on content creation, especially for branding/marketing purposes.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are many other sectors and companies currently hiring for remote work. And if none of these falls within your field of expertise…do a search for remote jobs available within your own industry. You might be surprised to find out what’s available, even in fields that haven’t accommodated working from home in the past.
If you’d like some help getting yourself in a more competitive position for getting hired (for remote work or otherwise), I’m always here to assist. Shoot me an email at email@example.com and let’s set you up with a free 30-minute consultation.
If you’ve been struggling to find gainful employment during this pandemic, I’ve just added an additional free resource that may help: a free training session via Zoom to help you sharpen your job search strategies! Let me share how this came about.
Ever since this pandemic hit, I’ve been looking for ways to be of service to those who have been affected by it job-wise. So many people became unemployed as a result of the lockdowns and the resulting hit to the economy. A couple of months later, we saw a crop of college students who had to graduate “virtually” and now find themselves struggling to land their first job in the midst of this crisis.
For myself, I’ve gone completely “remote” with my career coaching sessions, and I confer with all my clients by phone or by Zoom. Videoconferencing has actually proven to be a lifeline for many of us during these difficult times, whether we’re conducting business, attending job interviews or just connecting with family and friends. This “new reality” gave me the idea: Since we can’t do the training in person right now, why not use this medium as a resource to help people who need a boost with their job search? And why not give them relevant information they can use right now, in this year and in this economy, to improve their chances for getting hired?
The Zoom training is open to anyone, but it’s specifically designed to help those who have been recently unemployed, as well as recent college grads who might be floundering in their attempt to get hired right now. The session is free with no obligation—you just have to sign up for an open time slot. (For efficiency’s sake, I’ve set a limit on the number of people per session so we can keep the conversation going.)
What the Free Training Covers
The Zoom training session is designed to help you sharpen your skills in four key areas for a successful job search in 2020. The four keys are:
A powerful resume—one that gets a second look, rather than overlooked.
A compelling LinkedIn profile—learn how to use this critical platform to your best advantage.
Honed networking skills—yes, you can still network in quarantine, and I’ll tell you how.
A solid interviewing strategy—not just how to conduct yourself, but how to present yourself online since most interviews are happening virtually right now.
Sound like something that could help you? Just shoot me an email letting me know you’re interested, and I’ll send you a schedule so you can register for the next available time slot.
Don’t Forget These Other Free Resources…
Just as a reminder, as my schedule allows, I’m also still offering free individual coaching services for people who have been laid off due to the pandemic. (Email me for details.) And don’t forget my free webinar, “Land the Job You Want,” which you can access at any time by clicking here.
Remember, we’re all in this together. If I can be of help in any way with your job search or career change, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat.
In the weeks since the pandemic caused us all to shelter-in-place, I think we’ve all learned a LOT about how much technology can help us stay connected. The ability to tele-work has helped many companies stay in business, and even job interviews are now being conducted via video platforms like Zoom and Skype. If you happen to land a remote job interview, it can be intimidating at first, especially If you don’t have a lot of experience with videoconferencing. Plus, a video interview can feel quite different than an in-person interview, and there a few additional factors to think about.
Never fear—that’s why we’re here. If a potential employer asks you to interview online, here are some steps you need to ahead of time to make sure you put your best foot forward.
Install the Video App Beforehand
The employer will typically let you know which video platform they want to use for your interview. For our purposes, we’ll say it’s either Zoom or Skype since these are the most common, but there are others, as well. Whichever app they suggest, make sure you have it installed on your computer and test it out before the day of your interview. Zoom and Skype are both free to install, and you’ll need to set up a free account if you don’t have one yet. With Zoom, the employer will usually send a link via email that opens the app and logs you into the chat room automatically—but you’ll avoid potential disaster by making sure the app works before you click the link at interview time.
Create the Right Setting
When you go into an in-person interview, the setting is predetermined for you (i.e., the employer’s office or a conference room). With video conferencing—and this is important—you set your own backdrop. You don’t just need to think about what to wear (more on that in a minute)—you need to think about where you’ll sit, what is behind you and how you’ll look on camera. These factors will now all contribute to first impressions—not just how you dress!
Pick a place in your home or apartment that is pleasant and well-lit, with a backdrop that is relatively neutral and uncluttered. Be careful sitting next to open windows as the sunlight may cast an unintended shadow across your face—and if the window is behind you, you’ll be silhouetted. Position lighting so your gorgeous smile is easy to see!
Remove Visual and Audible Distractions
When setting your backdrop, you don’t necessarily have to have a plain, white wall—bookshelves and decorations are fine—just make sure there isn’t excessive clutter or gadgets in view that might draw the interviewer’s eyes away from you. Another factor that can be distracting is sound. When it’s interview time, make sure the room is quiet, free from the noise from kids, roommates, etc. Also, if you’re in a small room with bare walls, your voice might sound like you’re in a tunnel, and that can be distracting. At the very least, hang some blankets around the room (not in the camera view) to dampen the sound of your voice.
Prepare for the Interview Itself
Once you have set the stage, so to speak, your next task is to treat the interview almost exactly as if you were doing it in person. Prepare the same as you would for any other interview—research the company, anticipate what questions you might be asked, rehearse your answers, make a list of questions you’d like to ask—all the normal prep work you’d do otherwise. Your goal here is basically to make the same type of impression on the employer as if you were in the room with the interviewer. The more you prepare in this way, the closer you’ll be to that goal, even when interviewing remotely.
Do a Test Run (or Two)
The next way to prepare, especially if this is your first video interview, is to do a trial run. Ask a friend (or coach) to join you on Zoom or Skype to do a practice run-through of the interview. Start by opening the app and hopping on the call to make sure your audio and video work properly. (Too many video interviews have been bungled simply because the applicant didn’t bother to check the technology!)
Once you’re on the call, before you start the role-playing Q&A, take a good look at yourself and your backdrop to make sure you’re well-lit and there are no unwanted distractions behind you. During the Q&A, watch yourself on screen. Try to relax and act as normally as possible, as if the computer in front of you is the other person in the room. During the Q&A, record the session if possible so you can listen back for any unwanted echoes in the room, and also to check your responses. Avoid the temptation to get intimidated or self-conscious. If you see something that annoys you about how you look/act, you’ll typically make the adjustment naturally. (That’s the great thing about watching ourselves onscreen—it shows us things we don’t know are happening in the moment and gives us a chance to fix them.)
Dress for Success
And finally…dress for the interview exactly as you would if you were going into the office. There’s a running joke about dressing only from the waist up for remote interviews—don’t do it. First, you’ll have a lot more self-confidence if you dress the part; and second, if you have to get up for any reason, the illusion will be shattered.
If you need help with your job search or prepping for remote interviews, I’m here to assist—and as I mentioned before, if you became unemployed due to the pandemic, you may be eligible for free coaching from me. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com and tell me your story, and I’ll get back to you to set up a free consultation.
Let’s don’t beat around the bush. The unemployment numbers from
the past couple of weeks haven’t been dismal; they are basically disastrous.
Here in NYC, especially, a massive number of people have been forced out of
work due to shutdowns related to the Coronavirus pandemic. And while this
situation may be temporary, the numbers don’t tell the real story if you’re one
of the ones trying to figure out how to make ends meet.
We need to pull together and help one another in times like
these. If you’ve suffered the loss of a job, or if you’re a gig worker whose
income has dried up due to COVID-19, I want to help. So until this crisis is
over, Giraffe’s Consulting is offering the following resources at no
Immediate Support: A
In November 2017, I conducted a webinar called “Land the Job
You Want.” It’s basically a condensed version of the opening steps I take with
every new client. This
webinar is online and free to view, and it contains information that
can help you as you retool your job search for this “new normal.” You don’t
have to wait or sign up—just
go watch it.
Free Career Coaching
You’re reading this correctly—for every person I can fit
into my schedule who has recently experienced a layoff, I am offering my career
coaching services at no charge. In this time of social distancing, I typically
conduct one-on-one sessions by phone, but I’m also preparing to do some group sessions
via Zoom. The goal here is to equip you with the tools you need to navigate a
successful job search in this “new normal.”
If you are interested in signing up for free coaching,
simply shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
with a brief explanation of how this pandemic has affected your employment.
I’ll be back in touch with you soon to give you further instructions.
For most of us, if not all, the world is a much different
place than it was just a couple of weeks ago. It seems like the news about the
Coronavirus pandemic becomes more profound, disruptive and downright scary by
the day. Here in NYC, a huge percent of the workforce just got forced out of
work or furloughed due to the shutdown of most restaurants, theaters and
gathering places. If you’ve been recently “unemployed in the time of
Coronavirus”, or if your job hunting plans have been interrupted, you might be
tempted to buy into the despair—to throw up your hands and decide it’s useless.
But I’m here to tell you…don’t. Don’t despair. Don’t give
The fact is, jobs are still out there, and because this
particular pandemic is happening in the digital age, we have more tools
available for a job search than people did the last time something like this
swept the earth. Here are some important tips to help you re-tool your job
search—even if you’re sheltering-in-place.
Re-think the Job
Market and Look in the Right Places
When unemployment numbers seem to be shooting up, it’s easy
to assume there are just no jobs available. But that isn’t true—the work is
still out there. The available jobs have simply shifted according to the
nation’s current priorities, and there are plenty of companies out there who
need good people now more than ever. You just need to know where to look. Some
examples of industries and job sectors to investigate:
and order fulfillment companies. (Perfect example—as of the time of this
writing, Amazon just announced it is adding
100,000 new jobs to keep up with the increased demand from people
ordering from home.)
stores and pharmacies. (Especially those who deliver.)
and tech companies. (More people will be relying on the Internet and/or
have more time on their hands, and many tech jobs can be done from home.)
as it relates to Coronavirus.)
job where you could telecommute.
Bear in mind that companies in these sectors don’t just need
entry-level people; they need skilled professionals of many types, including
accountants, human resources, data analysts, sales reps…pretty much any role
that a company needs to fulfill its primary objectives. (In other words, don’t
assume Amazon won’t hire you for anything except to pack boxes. Send your
Move Your Job Search
I’ve mentioned in times past that having an online presence
is important during a job search, but it shouldn’t replace in-person
networking. Scratch that—for now. During times of social distancing, you’re not
going to have the face-to-face opportunities you once had—either for networking
or for job interviews—and it’s not really safe to go to those, anyway. So for
the time being, work on ramping up your online efforts. Some quick tips:
developing a winning LinkedIn profile—along with profiles at other job
sites you use (e.g., Indeed).
social media engagement. Spend more time interacting with other
professionals who might refer you. Follow and engage companies you’d like to
interviewing via phone and video chat. The dynamics of online interviews
are a bit different than in-person, so it helps to get used to these outlets
ahead of time.
Navigating the Change
If you know me at all, you know my motto: Change happens—take control! What’s
happening in our world is a huge change—but those
who thrive during change are those who are willing to adapt. Yes, there are
more obstacles, and yes, your job search might not be as cut-and-dried as
before. And yes, life certainly offers
no guarantees. But if you’re willing to be fluid and adapt your methods with
the changing times, you’ll be in a much better position to find and land work
when it becomes available than the 20 other people around you who threw up
their hands and gave up.
The following is an
excerpt from my upcoming book, What I Learned from the Giraffes, due out this spring. Just to give you a
taste of what I’ve been working on. 🙂
When I was in high school, I went out for the cheerleading
squad. I was always very athletic as a kid, but growing up in Rochester, New
York in the sixties, there weren’t really a lot of opportunities for girls to
play school sports. Cheerleading was one of the few outlets girls had for being
physically active, so it felt like a good thing for me to do.
There was stiff competition among the girls for the few
slots on the team that were available. I wasn’t the prettiest girl in the
class. I was thin and lanky, and I was already at my full adult height of
five-foot seven, which was considered tall in those days. But being naturally
athletic, I could do all the tricks and jumps very easily, so it was hard to
turn me down.
I was so excited to come home and share the news with my
family that I’d made the squad. But when I made the announcement at the dinner
table that night, my father’s reaction stopped me cold.
In contrast to my mother’s outspokenness, my father was the
other kind of person—the “strong, silent” type, stoic, a man of few words.
Where my mother led with her personality, my father led by his quiet,
disciplined example, having first served in the army, then following his father
into the city fire department, where he eventually served as a battalion chief.
He could speak volumes with the expression on his face, and by a single glance
you could instantly tell if he was pleased with you or terribly disappointed.
I was accustomed to being the apple of my father’s eye. He
supported almost everything I did, and most of the time I could do no wrong in
his eyes. But when I shared my news about becoming a cheerleader, he looked
like he’d seen a ghost. In fact, he broke his typical silence. “Terry, I don’t
think that that’s appropriate behavior for you,” he said. “I don’t like the
idea of you jumping around in front of a lot of people yelling and screaming. I
don’t think it’s very ladylike.”
The noisy dinner conversation fell almost silent. I was
shocked, crushed and deeply embarrassed.
Of course, looking back at it now, I understand why my
father was upset. All he could envision in his mind was his little girl in short
skirts and tight sweaters, jumping around, showing maybe more than what you
should be showing to a stand full of people. But in that moment, it hadn’t even
occurred to me that there would be an issue.
I pled my case, explaining how there weren’t any other
sports for girls and what an achievement it was even to make the team. My
mother, ever the progressive thinker, also spoke up in my defense,
diplomatically pointing out how this might be a good thing for me. My father
was unmoved, so rather than continue the disagreement in front of the family,
Mom chose to pivot. “We’ll discuss it later,” she said, shooting a meaningful
glance my way. We went on with our dinner.
I joined the cheerleading squad, and my father never brought
it up again. He went to a couple of games, but that was about all the support
he could muster. I could tell he remained uncomfortable with my being a
cheerleader, even though he didn’t say no.
As it turned out, cheerleading couldn’t have been a better
fit for me—and in fact it ended up informing almost every job I took as an
adult. Cheerleading taught me how much I love working with people, interacting
with them, encouraging them. It also gave me some leadership and management
skills, the ability to guide people and projects. My career path eventually led
me into the world of human resources—starting as a trainer, then ultimately
working up to vice-president of HR for a respectable firm where I worked for
years. I got to work with people on a personal, emotional level, and I got to
be their advocate, their encourager.
That was really the heart of it. Being a cheerleader
revealed the heart of who I was and what I wanted to be for people—an encourager. I get such a kick out of
helping people move closer to their goals. Even today, in my work as a career
coach, it’s basically the same thing. I’m still a cheerleader—just in a whole
different sort of way. It’s a perfect fit for me because I get to encourage,
inspire and motivate people every day.
Many years later, after I had become vice-president of HR, I
had a conversation with my father. “You know, Dad, after all this time, I can
now say confidently that being a cheerleader was really the foundation of my
professional success,” I told him.
“You’re absolutely right,” he said with a big smile.
I’ll keep you updated
on the book’s progress, including updates on the anticipated spring release. If
you’d like to be added to my email list for further updates about the book
release, shoot me an email at email@example.com. More to come!
Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and
that you were able to sneak a little time for yourself to take a personal
inventory in preparation for the upcoming year.
Along that line…I almost never use this blog space for
announcements, but 2020 is shaping up to be a big one for Giraffes Consulting,
for me personally, and hopefully for my clients. I’ve kept this mostly under
wraps until now, but I’m close enough in the process that it’s time to let you
know: My first book is nearing completion and should be ready for release in
the first quarter of this year!
The book’s working title is What I Learned from the Giraffes, and it serves as
part-memoir/part-inspiration. In the book, I share a bit of my own personal and
professional journey, as well as some of the universal principles I’ve learned
along the way that now form the foundation of Giraffes Consulting—most
importantly, the principles of navigating
It’s been a long time coming, but it feels like the timing
is perfect for this book. With all the upheaval and uncertainty so many of us
are facing in our world today, we need to be reminded now more than ever that change is a gift, and when we approach
change from a stance of confidence, we can take control of our future in ways
we never thought possible. This is certainly the approach I take with my career
coaching clients, but these principles extend far beyond finding a new job or
career. If you’re facing any kind of life change, whether it’s a change in job,
relationships, health or something else, I believe this book will help provide
some much-needed context—and hopefully, a bit of encouragement and inspiration,
In the weeks to come, I’ll be sharing a few excerpts from
the book here on the blog, and we’ll be planning a much-needed facelift for
this website coinciding with the book’s release. Watch for more announcements
In the meantime, if you need help navigating a career change
right now, you don’t have to wait for the book to come out—I’m here to help if
you need it. Shoot me an at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or call me at 646-320-1126, and we’ll schedule a free 30-minute consultation.