The Business of You

The Business of You

Why the World of Full Time Freelancing Is Growing

History of downsizings, mergers, bankruptcies, offshoring of jobs, a growing international marketplace, and technology changes have all brought dramatic and relatively fast changes to the world of employment. While the economy is stable with a low employment rate right now, there is always the possibility for future economic downturns that can affect our world of work.  Current examples of how quickly the shifts can occur are the business impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting dramatic ups and downs in the U.S. stock market. 

We experienced the second most dramatic economic downturn in U.S. history, which started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.  [Note: the first being the Great Depression in the 1929.]  In that recent period, many were impacted either by loss of jobs or doing more with less with a loss of savings. Loyalty to corporations that existed in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s have long come and gone.  What we are living in is a massive shift in how we think of work.

We are growing a Free Agent Nation where the individual must now think of themselves as being in the business for themselves – I call it The Business of You.

Free Agent Nation:

Daniel Pink wrote a great book, ­Free Agent Nation in 2001, where he talks about the death of the “Organization Guy.”  He claims the shift from the “Organization Guy” to the “Free Agent” is a shift from twentieth-century economics to a new economy that focuses on the individual.  

Who is a free agent?

  1. The unemployed
  2. Jobseeker – underemployed or merely seeking change
  3. The solopreneur – aka freelancer
  4. Temps – may be working on a project basis for a firm
  5. Small business owners – Pink calls them microbusinesses of fewer than 20 employees

In 2001 Pink indicates there approximately 33 million or 1 in 4 workers in America who consider themselves free agents.  That was when the unemployment rate was 4.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

 Why Do People Need to Think Like a Free Agent?

Mergers/bankruptcies, layoffs, the fast pace of technology changes, the shifting international economy continue – all contribute to the dissolving of jobs as we know them today and create new ones that were unthinkable in years past.   Tom Peters, in his 2007 article in Fast Company called “The Brand Called You” says it well when he writes,

“It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.)  A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.”

The Business of You – Why Should You Care?

If you are fortunate to be working today and love what you are doing, Congratulations!

If you are not fulfilled, not engaged, or not employed, you are ripe and may be ready for developing the Business of You if you have not done so yet.

In the October 2019 Forbes article, Full-time Freelancing Lures More Americans, Elaine Pofeldt indicates the share of freelancers who work full time rose 11 points since 2014, from 17 – 28%.  As of 2019, 35% of U.S. workers are now freelancing, representing 5% of the GDP, which is nearly a $1 trillion impact.

I would encourage all those who are or wish to be working to ponder deeply on who they are and what they want to be in the world of work. And then to run it like a business.  You can only change the things under your control, and that is you, for better or for worse.  While you can influence others, you can’t change them.  Take a peek within to where you are in your Business of You.  If you haven’t done that before, now is the perfect time to start, and it is never too late.

How does one get started?

Ahh, we’ll start on that in my next blog segment when I talk about my ME INC Framework © to help people get started building their Business of You.

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

 Cheers, Maureen

 

As we try to navigate the many roads of what we call life, sometimes we get off the beaten path, make a wrong turn or simply end up in a place that doesn’t seem safe, secure or familiar.  It is at times like these, that I have found coaching to be invaluable.  Maureen has guided me to a road that has allowed me to continue on life’s journey with renewed energy and focus.  Through gentle guidance, questions, pondering, challenging and goal setting, I have found my path, not anyone else’s.  I am confident and energized by the possibilities of my current and future life!

Kris

H.R. Manager

What is Your Unique True North?

What is Your Unique True North?

Warning: contents may lead to self-reflection, personal questioning of life purpose and the legacy you wish to leave in this world.

Just Mercy

Just Mercy, is a motion picture I recently saw on the big screen.  The movie (and the book on which it is based) is a true story of Harvard trained lawyer Bryan Stephenson who chooses to represent those underserved on death row. The story is about his journey in what I would call his life’s calling.    One of the first cases he takes on is that of Walter McMillan, who was falsely accused and convicted for the murder of an 18-year old girl.  McMillan, an African American, is sentenced to death and lives on Death Row. In going through McMillan’s files, Stephenson finds suppressed evidence that vindicates Mr. McMillan, making McMillan an innocent man biding his time on Death Row.

What struck me as I watched the movie (and read the book) is the clarity Bryan has for his chosen career path.  He moves to Alabama at the age of 28 in 1988 where he takes on the case of Walter McMillan which ends in McMillan’s exoneration in 1993.  As a Harvard law graduate, Bryan could easily have chosen a career path that would have been safer, easier, and provided a rich income.  Instead, he chose to support and aide the underrepresented in the legal system which at the time challenged deep cultural biases in the Deep South.  Bryan’s choices in his journey were neither safe, simple nor lined his pockets with money. It took 5 years of hard work to free Walther McMillan while facing tremendous opposition.

Bryan Stephenson’s Compass

Bryan set his compass on what was true north for him in the work he chose to do.  He set sail when he moved to Alabama and took on the McMillan case.  To say sailing was less than smooth is an understatement!  There were strong waves of negative popular opinion in the region that could have swayed him off course.  He became a target of police pressure as he challenged the Deep South’s cultural biases and opinions when it came to race and social status. Storms arose as he gathered evidence and took the case through the court system.  The tenacity and resolve in his purpose is admirable and amazing.

Questions arose for me about what leads to knowing one’s path in life?  How do we set our compass for where our deemed purpose lies and stays true?  Bigger yet, how do we weather the waves, currents, and storms that we encounter once we set sail for our heart’s destination?  Bryan is a great example of what there is to gain, not just for self but for others, by staying true to true north. As you will learn in seeing the movie or reading the book, the impact is huge for many.

Reflection

What happens when we are pulled so far off that path due to our fears, the stressors or the influences of others?  Will we be able to show the same resolve and strength of character of Bryan?  We can hope if it is truly a passion, path, and purpose, sooner or later the pain of straying off course will lead us back to the helm to right our vessels to get back on course for whatever our true north is.  Like Bryan, it not only required focus, tenacity, and belief in our purpose but it takes others who believe in the same purpose to encourage and assist us to keep moving forward in the direction – true north.

If you are living your true north path, I congratulate you, and thank you for the difference you are making. If you are unsure as to what your true north is, these following questions may provide some introspection for you. What is calling you? What do you feel drawn to do in this lifetime? What inspires and brings you joy? What is a cause you care about deeply?  What service can you be to others? What would you do whether you got paid or not? Take time and space for yourself to reflect.

Each of us has an impact to leave on our world, even small gestures can positively impact more than we often know. By following our own unique true north on our internal GPS, we can live a life fulfilled and make a difference in this world. I encourage us all to don our captain’s hat, put our hands to our vessel’s helm, and set sail into the destiny that is calling out to us.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Cheers, Maureen

 

As we try to navigate the many roads of what we call life, sometimes we get off the beaten path, make a wrong turn or simply end up in a place that doesn’t seem safe, secure or familiar.  It is at times like these, that I have found coaching to be invaluable.  Maureen has guided me to a road that has allowed me to continue on life’s journey with renewed energy and focus.  Through gentle guidance, questions, pondering, challenging and goal setting, I have found my path, not anyone else’s.  I am confident and energized by the possibilities of my current and future life!

Kris

H.R. Manager

How To Connect To Your Heart’s Work

How To Connect To Your Heart’s Work

Re-Building Your Work Relationship

For most of my career, I worked towards status and dollars, hoping to climb ever higher on a career ladder. I didn’t realize with those pursuits; I was losing who I was and who I am meant to be in the world of work.  My pursuit of status and materialistic gain eventually took a heavy toll on the heart and spirit of who I was.

Over time, I lost enthusiasm in greeting each workday. I dreaded, not welcomed, the challenges and opportunities in the course of each business day. I watched my self-imposed stress levels rise. I no longer brought the best of who I was to the workplace. I lost out, and my employer lost out – I left my potential sleeping and left additional productivity gains untapped. My relationship with my work and with myself was no longer healthy. With each day, another grain of sand in the hourglass of my finite time on earth was slipping by, never to be recovered.

Awakened

 Something within me eventually awakened. It took introspection, energy, and focus in order to break myself free from the inertia in my relationship with work.  I received exceptional advice from multiple sources in the form of 3 simple words, “Follow Your Heart.” Follow my heart? Really? Isn’t that just a Pollyanna-like view of the world only found in novels? I wasn’t trained or skilled in doing that! I had spent my years following my mind’s logic, not my heart! How could I trust that following my heart was going to pay off?

It took a significant leap in faith for me to trust that it is perhaps everyone’s birthright to follow our hearts versus our heads. It took effort and time to set aside my old pattern of egoist gratification in work – striving for position and money. It still takes effort and time to keep my focus on fulfillment and connecting to all parts of who I am, not just my mind/ego. However, with this new relationship with work, I no longer regret a single day or grain of sand passing.  I bring my heart, mind, and spirit to my work and all that I do. My relationship with my work is now a very healthy one. I willingly put in more effort and more extended hours into my work, and thoroughly enjoy the breadth and depth my work brings to my life.

What is possible?

If you find my story sounding a bit familiar, I challenge you to seek out what engages you and create a healthy and enriching relationship with your work. Dream in the color of possibilities. What are you passionate about? How can you bring your heart to work? What stops you from pursuing your dreams in the world of work? I’m convinced that if we could all answer those questions and then re-build our relationship with our work that embraces our whole selves, we will find rebirth not only within ourselves but a rebirth in the American workplace.

An Invitation

I’m passionate about what I do, which is guide others through life’s complexities towards success and fulfillment. Connect with me to learn more about the coaching process and how it can assist you to navigate the world of possibilities. 

“Maureen’s insight, knowledge, and intuition has laid the ground work to help me walk through my challenges. Thank you Maureen for the opportunity to heal, grow, and renew my sense of purpose, it has made all the difference.”

Vicky, Executive Director

How to Lead with Your Heart: The Hero’s Journey

How to Lead with Your Heart: The Hero’s Journey

What Is a Hero’s Journey?

Before we begin to hear Maria’s hero story, let’s take a quick overview of what a hero’s journey is. Joseph Campbell wrote a book called The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It summarizes the phases a hero makes in his or her journey. There are 3 phases, each of which includes several stages to a Phase. Those phases are 1) Separation or Departure, 2) Trials and Victories, and 3) Return and Reintegration with Society. (Campbell. Pg.36)

Separation or Departure is where you either choose to leave or are forced to leave life the way it has been running. Think of it as casting away from the shore. These departures take many shapes. For example, it could be the loss of a job, a career change, or a divorce. These life circumstances of Separation and Departure bring with them a lot of trepidation to those who must undergo the hero’s journey.

Sooner or later, everyone will face their own hero journey in one’s personal life and work life. Many times they are intertwined. Have you ever had such a situation? Recently, one of my clients has traveled through the first two phases and is ready to move into the third phase, which is the coming home to a new way of work.

Maria’s Story

Maria is the owner of a highly successful daycare facility. She has traversed the hero’s journey for several years in launching her business. Now that she is successful and the business is running well, she finds she no longer wants to be involved with the day-to-day operations of her thriving business. Maria is still passionate about the services her daycare facility offers but is seeking a change. She sees several options that would allow her to move out of the day-to-day operations and has had trouble deciding which option to choose. One option is for her to sell the business outright. A second option is to take on a business partner who will handle the day-to-day operations, and she can be available for consultation with broad oversight only. The third option is to staff it for the day-to-day control but work on franchising the unique business model that has been so successful in her current one-location setting.

To complicate the decision-making process a bit more, Maria is now engaged to a wonderful man who lives in a state hundreds of miles away. He has his medical practice in his hometown along with shared parenting duties over the children of his first marriage. Moving for him is not an option. Moving for Maria is not an option as long as she has day-to-day operational responsibility for her business. She has hired managers in the past year, only to find that they do not work out. It has been difficult finding someone with the right set of skills and the same passion for the business that she has. She knows she will want to move after the wedding and not maintain a long-distance marriage.

The wedding date has been set, and Maria finds herself in a quandary with her business. The more she thinks through the various options and tries to forge ahead, the more lost and unsure she feels. She reached out to SoLwork for coaching assistance to help move forward.

What is the Challenge for the Hero?

Maria has faced what is I call the “Foggy Seas of Transition.” No one direction seems more right to head down than do any of the other business options that she has available. She is uncomfortable with her indecision and wants to take action. In this part of the journey, it is not an activity that will bring about the best results. This part of the transition is where creative solutions can evolve if one is quiet and still enough to listen to their heart’s message on the direction and next steps to head.

The Outcome

Maria was tempted to take on a business partner by developing her existing business into a franchise. Once she had clarity, she decided to sell the business. It freed her to move to where her future husband lived and allowed her time to adjust to her new life and marriage. Once settled, she can revisit the idea of franchising her business model for daycare under a different name. Maria felt great relief to finally see her way clear so that she could move forward once again. She truly led from her heart to gain clarity in direction. After months of being in the fog, she feels she has truly made the best choice for her, for her current business and its staff. Maria is currently living a very fulfilling and happy married life. She feels she chose wisely and from her heart center. All components for her and her business, though not always easy to execute, did work out beautifully.

Disclosure: This is a true story of success. However, the names of my clients have been changed to protect their privacy. 

“Career and Life Coaching with Maureen has changed my life. I was at a standstill for many years working a corporate job that was not fulfilling and wasn’t a good fit for me.  After taking the plunge and opening up my new business I was so overwhelmed and had a hard time making decisions and organizing my priorities.  I have seen big results since I started working with Maureen!  My confidence has increased in making decisions and I have been able to move forward. I never imagined the changes that working with a career coach would bring to my professional and my personal life.  It was a great experience but also a necessary one to make things happen in my life. I can’t thank her enough.”

Maria

Divorce and Career Changes? A Gift Is Waiting for You.

Divorce and Career Changes? A Gift Is Waiting for You.

The Gift and Opportunity

If you find yourself in life transition, such as divorce, there is a unique gift and opportunity for you to seize. You have been handed a new artist’s canvas to create that new life for yourself. Whenever there is a loss, there is grief and some pain associated with it. When we are in pain, we sometimes rush headlong into something to relieve or remove that pain. WARNING: Without going through a reflective period and healing from our pain, we may miss the opportunity to find your gift in the situation.

You might find divorce is requiring a career change for you. Maybe you have been out of the workforce to raise the family but suddenly must become self-sufficient. Perhaps you need to shift from part-time to full-time employment status. Now you are faced with two challenges at once, adapting to being single and looking for work. Believe it or not, there is still a gift waiting for you.

Once you have spent time grieving your loss, it is then time to start anew. Don your painter’s smock, pick up your paint palette and brushes, and start to paint the work and life of your dreams! Whether you paint, journal, craft vision boards, soul collage images, whatever tool it may be, get started!

My Gift Story

I found myself divorced after 25 years of marriage and was unemployed. I know how seemingly daunting it may appear to those who find themselves in that situation. It took me the divorce, and a couple of job transitions to figure out there was a gift. The time and opportunity for me if I chose to take it and use it. Once I decided to really paint the picture of what I wanted for MY LIFE and career, I set to work. It was creative, fun, but not without its stresses. Since “painting” my dreams and goals, I have found myself marching toward and reaching those destinations I painted. I now have a life I love, a second marriage that is wonderful, and work that is my soul’s passion. Like most artists, once I saw the value in ‘painting’ my dreams, I continue to pick up blank canvases and start painting new ideas for my life. Without my divorce and career issues, I would never have discovered the power in creating and building what want out of my life.

Painting from the HeART

If you find yourself in the place of divorce and/or career change, there is no time like the present to set your intentions of living what you dream. When painting, be sure you are painting a glorious picture. Avoid dark or negative thoughts as you “paint” and build your new life. The bigger message is not to lose hope but to build a wonderful life for yourself, even if you cannot figure out just yet how to make it happen.

Your finished canvas should be your targeted goal, your ideal dream. Unless a goal is set, it is difficult to obtain it! Once set, a goal takes on a life of its own. The timing and the details (who, what, where, etc.) of its arrival are rarely in our direct control. By holding the vision, the goal, the dream before us, however, our persistence will lead to its delivery. Your faith truly can move mountains. I have seen it work in my life. If I can do it, I know you can too!

While you are in transition, I invite you to take the time given you – it truly is a gift there for your taking. Don your painter’s smock, open your mind, and creatively paint your dream life. Make it not only a Work of Art but create that Work of HeART. Set the intention to live your dream and be open to the flow and timing in your journey to get there. Follow your HeART, and you will live a full and wonderful life.

Career Transition – Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and Hero’s Journey

Career Transition – Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and Hero’s Journey

What Is a Hero’s Journey?

Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ is a metaphor for those in career transition, either losing or seeking new career positions. Dorothy’s journey through OZ back to Kansas is not unlike the hero’s journey described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. (Campbell. 1949). Read on for more about the career transition journey. Discover how a career coach, like Glinda, the Good Witch, can assist along the journey.

We will use Campbell’s three phases of the Hero’s journey, 1) Departure, 2) Trials, and 3) Return and Reintegration with Dorothy as our hero. We’ll use the same phases for one in career transition to describe the journey one will undergo till landing the next position. See how a career coach, aka Glinda, can serve in each phase.

Phase 1 – Departure

Dorothy finds herself swept up in a tornado and landing in the strange new world of OZ. Although overwhelmed and a bit scared, Dorothy looks for the positive and becomes curious about the new sights, sounds and people she encounters. Dorothy focuses on what is front of her (the Now) but never loses sight of her goal to land back home. It is the attitude that allows Dorothy to move forward, just as it would someone in career transition.

Dorothy in this stage of her journey meets the Good Witch, Glinda. In Munchkinland she doesn’t know where to start in her quest to return home. Glinda coaches her to “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” toward the Emerald City. For those in career transition, three coaching benefits exist at this stage: 1) To move from the past (longing for what once was); 2) Dispel negative emotion, such as anger or depression; and 3) Creating a sense of curiosity about this new foreign land.

Phase 2 – Trials

Dorothy forges friends along the way in the forms of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. Together they march toward OZ to obtain the goals they individually seek. All four characters embody traits the Job Seeker needs along their own hero’s journey. Dorothy is the leader – holding vision to guide them on their way. Scarecrow uses his brain to make decisions at key junctures in the journey (aka forks in the yellow brick road or solving problems in the poppy fields). Tin Man brings his heart to the journey, caring and nurturing the group along the way. Cowardly Lion demonstrates great courage to see the journey through to the end. Together, their traits and strengths are needed to face their many trials so they can move to victory.

The Job Seeker needs these same traits as the hero on their own journey. As leader of your life and work – you must determine your end goal and hold that vision. You need to use your brain to create your job search strategy. The search holds its own trials and stressors, so you must find heart to nurture yourself along the way. Finally, you will need to drawn on courage as you face the fears and stresses that journey brings.

Dorothy has Glinda supporting her throughout the journey. Sometimes it was to support Dorothy in challenges (making it snow in the poppy fields). Sometimes it was to provide needed wisdom when Dorothy felt lost along the way (telling her to follow the Yellow Brick Road). Like Glinda, a coach helps you draw upon your strengths and on those around you. If you lose momentum or give up (Dorothy in the poppy fields), a coach can cheer you on and offer a solution to move you forward again. A career coach supports and sheds light even in the darkest of forests along your journey.

Phase 3 – Return and Reintegration

Dorothy obtains victory, returning the Wicked Witch’s broomstick to Emerald City. Dorothy is ready to return to Kansas and the Wizard promises to take her home in his hot air balloon. At the last minute, Dorothy is left behind, crestfallen as she watches the Wizard leave; her return seemingly impossible.

Glinda arrives to coach Dorothy through this one last trial. Like any good coach, Glinda guides Dorothy to find the wisdom within herself to end her journey. However, it took Glinda’s aid and the challenges of our hero’s journey for Dorothy to find the answer within. Only then can Dorothy go home. Like Glinda, a career coach will provide that same probing and illumination for the Job Seeker Hero.

There is one more way that coaching can assist. Completing the journey to ‘home’, Dorothy and the Job Seeker Hero are changed but must reintegrate into their worlds. The Hero is a very different person than the one that was uprooted at the start of the journey. Dorothy will still face with Miss Gulch, the challenge that led to the start of the journey to begin with. A coaching guidance would be helpful to Dorothy as she readjusts to a new view of her world.

The Job Seeker Hero will also face new challenges in their changed world of work. It might be assistance in negotiating the best terms of employment before the first day of work. It could be guidance in adapting to the new work environment and culture. Or it could be dealing with the same work-related issues that existed before or may have even lead to start of the original journey, like mean Miss Gulch for Dorothy. All are reasons for using a career coach in this new phase of the hero’s journey in the world of work.

Summary

If you find yourself in some sort of career transition, career coaches can serve as a Glinda – letting you choose the path along your own yellow brick road, steering you to your heart’s desire. A skilled career coach provides:

  • Assistance in formulating the vision (Goal for the journey)
  • Support in implementing the vision (Glinda)
  • Offering solutions when stuck in the journey (Scarecrow)
  • Heart – emotional support (Tin Man)
  • Courage – to reach the end (Lion)

When a career coach shortens the process by one week, a month or more, what is the income lost to you if you choose to walk your path alone? How well would Dorothy have found her way home without Glinda, Scarecrow, Tin Man, or the Lion? Changes are the journey would have been much longer and much more stressful. If you find yourself along the Career Transition path, we wish you safe passage and strength along the way. Just know that you don’t have to walk alone.