Archive for the ‘career’ Category


Have you ever had those moments when you were just not sure of your next step on your life or career path?  When I have those moments (which are quite often), I use Inspired Action.

Inspired Action, to me, is when you allow inspiration to show you the way toward your next choice or goal.  There is no trying or forcing an idea to come to you.  There is not even any research or digging to find an answer.  There is only inspiration.

Inspiration from what you are already reading (in books, magazines and on the web), what you are already watching (videos, Netflix), what you are already talking about (with colleagues, family and friends).

Inspired action can come from your internal sense of “readiness” for something new, some next step on your journey.  You may have heard the term “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”

Here is an example of how I personally have used inspired action.

Several years ago I was on a break from my volunteer board work having just come off a board role of 5 years with a women’s business group.  When I began to have the “itch” to join another board, I had no idea which one.  I did some research, attended some things but nothing felt right.

I chose to stop “trying” to find the next thing and just waited for inspiration to hit.  One day I received an email from a coaching colleague I had not seen in a while inviting me to the next event the group she belonged to was having, just to catch up with her.  When I arrived (it was the Coach Federation Raleigh chapter Cutting Edge Conversation event), I felt immediately “at home” with these people in the room and energized by the conversation we were having.

At the end of the meeting, the colleague that had invited me announced to the group that they were seeking volunteers to join their board.  I knew this was no coincidence and took the inspired action to make this new commitment.  What is interesting about this is that I had attended events from this group in the past, but never felt the desire to join the group, this time was different.

How to take Inspired Action

  • Let go of trying to find answers
  • Live your life, doing things you already enjoy
  • Notice when something catches your attention, sparks your interest or gets you thinking.
  • Pay attention to ease – often inspired action feels easy, sort of like a “no brainer”
  • Take Action.  Once inspiration hits, take a small step forward (or a giant leap).  Depending on what has inspired you, your step may be to have that conversation, research that career OR it could be a full commitment (like my joining the ICF board)

What if inspiration not coming?  You can give it a nudge by

  • Having more conversations.  Invite a friend over you have not seen in a while, throw a party, or attend an event you have been meaning to
  • Start researching something you have had your eye on and see where it leads you
  • Read something out of the ordinary for you.  Could be a book someone recommended, a different magazine at your dentist office, or a blog someone recommended
  • Overall – get out of your comfort zone.  Doing, being and experiencing something slightly (or greatly) different than your norm.

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My story of career change…
Some of you may know my story of how I transitioned my career, but may not know what went into my decision and how I made my way in my new career.When I was a Career Counselor, I played a very specific role in helping college students and recent grads figure out their career path and helped them to get their first job.  Yes, a big focus of the work I do now is still related to Career Development and Job Search – what changed in a big way is How I do that, Who I do that with and the scope of What I do with each client.

How did I discover all of that? It started with Taking Inventory
I started noticing that the tasks that gave me the most energy included the one on one connection with individuals I was helping, especially when I was able to see the same student on an ongoing basis.  At the time, as Associate Director, I was in a leadership role that took me away from the 1-1 interactions.  I wanted to bring that 1-1 focus back.I wanted to expand.  The nature of my work at the University was very specific to career and did not allow much expansion into the personal lives of those I served.  I understood that the whole person is the one seeking help, and I wanted to be able to address ALL areas of one’s life as it pertains to career and beyond.

So…I started exploring what type of work I could do that allowed a bigger picture focus while remaining engaged 1-1 with clients.  I started doing some research and having conversations with people and that is when I discovered Coaching.

Once I had a better idea of where I was going, I Took a Big Leap
When I discovered Coaching as a career choice, for me to fully dive in and be in the type of role I wanted, it meant starting my own business.  Oh Boy!  I had never even thought of myself as a business owner!  I knew nothing about business; I was terrified of “selling myself” and even being visible to the public.  I knew this was a big leap and started thinking ….. “If I Could do this, how would I” Starting from that place helped me create solutions and actions around my concerns and fears.  I also knew a strength of mine is Learning – and boy did I use that one in a big way!
To make this new idea be very real for me, it was time for my Commitment Step
I made several commitment steps throughout my transition.  The first was enrolling in a training program to become a coach; the second (at around the same time) was hiring my own coach.  Both were financial investments, something my frugal self does not take lightly. J   To make these financial commitments was really a commitment to myself – to my path, my growth.Once I committed, it allowed me to ride the ups and downs, twists and turns that are part of change and transition.  And I had many…. Some days I wondered “what am I doing, I don’t know how to…..”  then other days I was so excited by all the possibilities and positive feelings I had while doing the work.  I soon realized that there will Always be ups and downs and need to Trust.  Trust myself and my abilities and Trust the process.

In my 12 years as a coach and business owner,  I Re-evaluate constantly
I look at what is working, what is not; what I love doing, what I’m ready to let go of; what new projects I want to create and what I want to change.  Formally I do this at the end of every year. Informally I do it whenever it is needed or insight strikes.I hope my sharing some of my story helps you to take your own inventory, big leaps, commitment steps and evaluation.  We get one life and my hope is for everyone to be living his or hers to the fullest!



So many of those I work with bring up confidence at one time or another as something they want to increase or build.

What is confidence?

Confidence is a sense believing in your own judgment and decisions. Confidence is accepting who you are – your strengths as well as weaknesses. It is a feeling of positivity and empowerment. I believe we all have it within us to be incredibly confident – in fact, I’ll bet you already ARE confident in one or more areas of your life or in certain situations.

What is it about those experiences/situations or moments that brings out your confidence?

Confidence can show up on the outside (in our choices, behaviors and words we use) and on the inside (in our thoughts, beliefs, perspective, assumptions…)

Here is what others might hear: Your voice is clear and strong, you admit when you don’t know something, you ask questions to learn and share when asked to, you say thank you when complemented. Your words are positive (and not timid or self deprecating)

Here is what it may look like on the outside: you enter a room with your head held high and engage others in eye contact. You have a genuine smile on your face. You engage in conversation and connect with others.

Here is what might be going on inside: you believe in yourself and your limitless possibilities. Yes, you still have an “inner critic” judging you occasionally, but you know better and use those negative messages to fuel and challenge you instead of stopping you. You focus on your accomplishments (large or small) as evidence of what works – and you continue to build on that. You feel strong; knowing that there is nothing you can’t handle, learn or overcome.

How do you develop confidence?

Yes, it may seem that some people are born confident, but I believe that anyone can develop theirs. Here are some strategies for doing just that.

  1. Stretch out of your comfort zone as often as possible – daily if you can. This could be as simple as taking a new route to/from work or as big as trying something you have been fearful of.
  2. Know, then capitalize on your strengths – when we focus on building our strengths, it gives us a feeling of control and empowerment!
  3. Remember the moments when you are/have been confident – what were you thinking or believing about yourself?
  4. Be true to yourself and live your values – when your choices in life/career match what matters most to you, they feel “right”.
  5. Celebrate your achievements – small and large, every step of the way, instead of focusing on what you have not accomplished yet.
  6. Treat yourself as you want others to treat you – being kind to yourself shows that you value yourself. When you value who you are, confidence builds.


When I was a teenager, I remember having a conversation with my brother that went something like this. “I am so envious of you, you love drums so much and have found your passion, you know exactly what you want to do/be.” He said to me “You are the lucky one, you can be or do anything, I only want to play drums, and if that does not happen, I would be lost”

That experience stuck with me, for you see, I was one of those that did not have my “one-thing”. I did (and still do) enjoy several different things, some of which I liked keeping as hobbies since my interest in them ebbs and flows. I enjoy change, growth, learning, testing and researching which often leads me to new areas to explore. I have embraced this life of plenty and never felt like I needed just one thing.

What became of my brothers passion? He did play drums professionally for many years before finding a new passion – technology/design – He loves having a strong passion and even that passion continues to evolve/deepen as he learns and grows.

What about you?
Do you wish you had a burning passion – one career or life interest that is all consuming? Where you are singly focused, clear, and driven toward it?

So many of my clients come to me wanting to find such a passion. Some feel that they never really had it (in their careers especially). When I ask how they are defining passion, they use words like, “my one thing”, “what lights me up”, “what fulfills me”. When they don’t have it, they feel like something major is missing from their lives, like they are “less-than” somehow. This often leads them to forever pining/searching for that one thing they will love absolutely – and not truly enjoying where they are or what they have.

What if you don’t have one passion?
You may have heard me talk about “sparks”, what I call those moments and experiences that bring you a jolt of joy, curiosity or interest.

What if, you were to start to pay more attention to your personal “sparks” and notice what you are doing, who you are with, what you are thinking that brings about these sparks? When you do that, you then get to choose more of those experiences deliberately! You may even find that they lead you to a new career or new personal pastime – one of your many!

If you want to learn more about this idea….

Video – Listen/watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk – she talks about the “flight of the hummingbird” and having a “curiosity driven life.” This talk was my inspiration for this months topic
Article – Your Career Calling
Book – Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher

A Career Transition Success Story

This month I am sharing this inspiring message I received recently… The names of companies, etc have been left generic for privacy and to help you see that this story is transferable/relatable to all fields.

“Hi Stefanie!  Remember me? I was the restless longtime employee of a great company in Raleigh with an amazing dream company on her radar. 🙂  My family and I relocated to our new city 5 months ago, and it’s been a whirlwind.  My job is intense, but good.  I have an amazing manager who is a great mentor, helping me understand “their corporate way.”  The company is humongous and there are so many things to learn, but I’m making headway, little by little.

I wanted to share some insight with you on how my dream company recruits since it’s something you talk about in your sessions.  I had a meeting with two of the HR recruiters for this company a couple of weeks ago.  They are using LinkedIn as their No. 1 social media tool to locate talent.  In addition to finding the right skill set and experience on LinkedIn, they also said they look to see what interest groups a person has joined and/or what other companies they are following.  They really like to find people who have an affinity for the brand already, so if you’re following their company on Twitter and LinkedIn, etc, that is a plus.  I remember once I had decided that is where I wanted to work, I started following a bunch of the company Twitter accounts, LinkedIn sites, etc.  I didn’t realize it would be something they took note of when they looked at my LI page, but apparently it is important.

Social media presence aside, the most important factor for me in landing this job was making connections at my dream company.  I was able to do that because I was on the board of a local professional association chapter in the Triangle and I reached out to the their President in the city where my dream company was, who happened to work at that company!  I honestly don’t think she’d have ever taken my call had I not had that association connection in common!  Once I talked to her, I was able to talk to a couple more people and get my name out there.  Then, when the right job opened up, I applied and I wasn’t an unknown name in a stack of resumes.  So the system works!  Let your clients know that even if you have NO connections to a company, if you are strategic about it, you can find a way to get your foot in the door.

It all started with an “itch” I had that my job at the time wasn’t challenging me anymore.  When I was completely honest with myself, even though I had all the perks that an employee could want while working for this great company in Raleigh, including a supportive manager and fun team,  I wasn’t growing as an individual anymore.  Once I recognized that, I started taking steps to find something that would energize me again.  I attended one of your workshops on building your resume and social media presence, then started meeting every two weeks with a friend/co-worker of mine in the same boat to hold each other accountable to making steps towards change.

So, the first step is honesty with yourself. The next step is action and driving change.  And once you set your sights on a goal and are willing to do the work to get there, there is no stopping you! :)”

I hope you found this story inspiring and that it gave you some ideas and strategies you can incorporate into your career transition!

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Do you think of networking as a “four letter word”?  

For many of my clients, especially introverts, the idea of networking brings up images of having to “work the room” at events full of people you don’t know and feelings of awkwardness among those you are “sure” are more confident, interesting or at ease than you are.

What networking truly is?  Building relationships!  I like to call it – “becoming an insider”.

Relationships start with an initial meeting – which could come from a small gathering where a friend introduces you to someone new, a learning event you attend where you meet fellow participants, a group of likeminded enthusiasts through – the list is endless.

They develop through repeat experiences which could look like – attending monthly events through professional or business groups, joining a committee or board of a professional association, attending the same gym classes weekly, church functions….anything or anywhere you can show up often where many of the same people congregate.

They deepen through the value you add to each other, which could look like – adding tons of value to the committees you are on, forming a mastermind (accountability) group where you support each others growth, having 1-1 “informational” meetings where you get to know each other better.

Here is one of my personal examples of how I got connected to my community as a business owner:

Though my coaching business technically was started in March 2005, I launched into it full time in August 2005 when we moved to Apex, NC from Long Island.  Here I was in a new city where I knew not a single person (except for my husband of course). Luckily I had a great coach who encouraged (well maybe challenged) me to get out in the community and start meeting people. Well, to the still relatively shy me, that was out of my comfort zone. I realized I had a choice. While my body/mind wanted me to stay nice and invisible (comfortable) in my house, in my heart and soul I new it was time to make the leap and get out into this new world (literally and figuratively)….. read full story

When you connect with others that “get you”, it adds a richness, support and strength to what you are already doing.  It can exponentially increase your confidence, understanding and resources.   I’ve been experiencing that partnering with a coaching colleageue, Noa Ronen,  as we have been creating a new program called The Coaches Lab where we bring coaches together to share, learn and grow their confidence as they build their businesses.

Where in your career or life have you felt the Power of Connection?


It was time to change the environment of my home office.  I had an idea of what I wanted my office to feel like – warm, bright, sunny, vibrant yet peaceful at the same time and thought that lime green was just the color.  Boy was I wrong!

While the color itself was beautiful, it felt like I had placed grown up furniture into a baby’s room.  Not the feeling I was going for.  I had to live with it for a few days until I could repaint, but more than that I had to find the right color. I did and here is the result:

This process made me think about how we make all kinds of decisions, especially career decisions.  We may have an idea of what we want, yet need to try several things until we finally “feel” that it’s the right choice.  We often don’t know if something is right just by looking at it (in my case on a paint chip or even half a wall!) and instead need to dive in to test it out.

Paint is easy, we choose a color and if we don’t like it we paint another color over it – sometimes twice in the same week 🙂

With our careers it’s not as simple, but here are some ways you can try a new career on for size to see if it “feels” right:

  •  Shadowing – find someone who is in a career that you are considering and ask if you can spend a day (or half a day) with them in their environment
  • Volunteer in a new role – find an organization that needs the type of role you are considering and offer your services to them.
  • Volunteer in a new environment – Even if you are engaged in a different role than you would like, placing yourself in the new environment will allow you to assess how it feels to be there
  •  Pro bono work – if you are considering offering a service, whether on your own or through an organization, try offering it pro bono to a couple of people to see what it feels like to be delivering it.
I would love to hear from you.  What other ways have you found that have helped you know you have found the right choice for you?


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You have heard me talk about the importance of continually learning and connecting.  This is true whether you are a business owner like me, in career transition or just seeking to enhance your life.

One great way to learn and connect is through LinkedIn Groups.  Here members can post questions, ideas and resources – and start interesting and thought provoking conversations about all different topics.  It is a fantastic way to learn what your colleagues and connections are thinking about, what works for them and what matters to them. 

You may already be a part of some of these groups but one I recently found that is a great help to those in career transition is called Career Change Central.  Here career and HR professionals share different perspectives and strageies for success.

Which groups are you are part of?

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In some of my seminars I have been asking the question:

Do you ask for help in your workplace and in your life?

Most of the audience, at every seminar, said no they do not ask for help.  When I asked what their biggest reason for not asking for help at work was they said something like “It will look like I don’t know what I am doing”.  The interesting thing is, when I asked the audience if they think that same thought about a colleague that asks for help, they said no! 

In their personal lives the message was similar, something like “I should be able to handle this on my own” or “I don’t want to bother anyone”.  Should we be able to handle everything on our own?  Is it really possible?

Sometimes others offer their help, and we turn them down for much the same reasons. 

What if you were to ask for or accept help? 

How could your life be changed for the better if you did?

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Years ago when I began working at a university, the end of the year rolled around and I was asked to complete an annual report – an accounting of all I had achieved, including results of programs I was responsible for.  I panicked – mainly because I didn’t remember!  Yes, I finally finished that first report, but vowed to make it much easier the next time. 

So each month I started recording what I had accomplished, so by the end of the year, I had 12 smaller reports that I now had to synthesize into one.  Much easier!  Doing it this way also helped me see how far I had come each month, instead of waiting until months had passed and I had forgotten.  How quickly we forget what we have achieved – yet that ever present “to do” list is embedded in our minds.  Even with those 12 reports making it easier I always hated writing that annual report – but I always loved having written it.  Seeing in print a years worth of accomplishments was very rewarding and uplifting.

It’s your turn, as you are starting to take action toward your goals for the new year, begin by reviewing the year that just ended and take pride in your achievements!

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