Learn from the School of Life

Happy Sunday ladies,

I hope you've all had a good week and are looking forward to our next meetup, only a week and a half away. I was working on the questions I'll be asking the panelists and can't wait to hear their answers. And there will of course be time for your questions too, so come prepared.

My Sunday was more and less productive than hoped for. Less in that I didn't do everything I wanted to; more in that I made an important decision: I decided to drop out of an MBA program I was going to start in a month.

I already have a Master's, although in publishing, and have four certificates in business-related topics. For years I wondered if having an MBA would make a difference and help me break out of publishing. So I started an online program, took three semesters (and did well), and then put it on hold since I had been let go and couldn't afford tuition. Truth be told, it had been somewhat disappointing anyhow.

Fast forward a couple of months and I hear that University of the People now has a free MBA. It sounded perfect, so I applied. It's all volunteer run so they're a bit slow, but I did eventually hear that I got accepted and was going to start in April.

But I've been dreading the semester's start instead of looking forward to it, and today officially withdrew from the program. I finally had to admit that I was doing this for all the wrong reasons and that my time could be better spent elsewhere.

Recently reading Not Taught: What It Takes to be Successful in the 21st Century that Nobody's Teaching You by Jim Keenan also helped. Part of what made the original more prestigious (and expensive) MBA disappointing was that it was too academic and not practical enough. I read so many business books and consider myself a student of life, so school just doesn't cut it for me anymore. And that's okay. Jim points out how there are many things we need to learn that school doesn't teach us, including how to sell, brand ourselves, network, think, and handle change, just to name a few.

But the ultimate deciding factor was that I'm not looking for a corporate job and the kinds of opportunities I'm interested in don't require (or care about) MBAs.

I think we all have things we think we need to do or pursue, either because it's what we were taught to do or because it seems like a shortcut. But time is money, and especially when you're juggling transitioning plus working, time is a very precious commodity and sometimes even more precious than money.

So reevaluate all the things you're doing. Is there something you're spending a lot of time, effort, or money in that you don't enjoy and feel you must do? Why do you feel this? And is it really serving its purpose or are you better off doing something else? Transition times are a great opportunity to reevaluate all aspects of your life and to "clean house" wherever needed.

Just some food for thought. Let me know if this resonates and/or helps.

Until next week,

Network with Purpose

Happy Sunday ladies,

I hope you all got to enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend.

Today I want to touch on a topic we know is super important but may also be super intimidating to many of us: networking. As we spoke of at our last meetup, attending our group is many of your first step to networking more, since you know how important it is. And to be honest, that's in part why Kat and I started the group too: to make it easier for us to network with others going through what we are.

I had the opportunity to listen to Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World, speak at a Women's Media Group event. (You can read my brief review of her book here.)

Kelly started out as a lawyer, then moved over to the training/development side of the business, where she had to become a networking guru to reconnect with alumni of her company. She became involved with a women's networking group that was then called 85Broads (it's now called Ellevate), ended up becoming their president, and then moved on from there to becoming a startup investor and accelerator founder. Each of her moves was done with the help of her network and via targeted outreach.

The six major takeaways I took from Kelly's talk and book are:
  1. Networking should be targeted to be effective—know why you are attending any event and/or reaching out to any person so you can help them help you;
  2. Every interaction we do is networking—all our social media, our email signature, our voice mail message, and any time we connect or respond to someone;
  3. If you don't have a personal email signature (which I didn't until after listening to her speak), then create one now;
  4. Always follow-through on any new connection you make, and this does not mean just the day after, but a few week's later too so that you're top of mind;
  5. It's no longer about who you know but who knows what you know, so make sure you get content and ideas out there;
  6. Don't wait until you need a job to network—always be connecting and paying forward.
Kelly was really inspirational, as was her book, and her lessons are really timely given our career change journeys. So let's think of ways we can be more thoughtful in our networking and targeted in our outreach, and how we can help each other as well.

Until next time,

Recap of Our Second Meetup

Happy weekend, ladies!

Thank you to those who joined us Wednesday night for a great second meetup.

Unlike our first meetup, and as intended, this one was all about us: sharing our stories, the successes and challenges in our career-changing journey...and not feeling so alone since we're all going through similar things and now have each other.

Since all stories and journeys were unique, there aren't takeaways per se, but each attendee left with actionable items they can work on and report on at our next meetup. I'd encourage you all to use our private Facebook group to keep us informed of your progress on these items and so that we can cheer you along the way. (If you haven't joined us on Facebook yet, you can find that link on our meetup home page.)

A few members did mention that joining us was a first step for them, whether in overcoming their fear of networking or finally taking a step forward in a journey they knew was overdue. To them—and all of you who attended—I want to say congratulations. Showing up is a critical first step; participating is a second one. So you've already taken two steps forward and we're here to help you take more.

For those who couldn't make it, there's always next month and ways to stay involved and allow us to help you in your journey virtually. Feel free to reach out to me for suggestions.

Next month's meetup is our expert panel, so definitely not one to miss. And we're starting to charge a small fee just to cover our expenses (e.g., food or venue). If you'd like to attend but the fee is a hardship, let us know.

Since my actionable item was to take better care of myself (e.g., sleep and relax more), I wish myself and all of you a week where you're good to yourselves.

Until next time,

Preparation for this Week's Meetup

Happy Sunday ladies,

I'm so excited that our next meetup is coming up, and I look forward to hearing how your career-change journeys have been going.

Unlike our last meetup when we had a great guest, this one will be all about connecting and sharing. We'll start off by introducing ourselves, then spend most of the evening talking about what's been working and what has not in our journey. During this part of the evening, I'd like you to consider some of the things I've been writing about: either your one word, your strengths, where you find your joy, etc.

Funny enough—and I swear I don't plan this—I published another year-plus old blog draft that really speaks to our situation. You can read it here, but in brief, a book I read back then recommended considering what everyone keeps coming to you for as your purpose. Even if the thing people keep telling you you're great at is not what you see yourself doing, rethink the core of that thing and consider how else you can apply it.

After we've all had a chance to share our wins, challenges, and answers, we'll finish off the evening with a final circle where we do our own version of "give and get." Since we are trying to build a support network, we will all mention something we've learned either that evening or in our journey, something we would like to learn, and something we can teach others in our network. The hope is that this will further help us help each other and lead to expanded future opportunities.

I look forward to seeing you all this week.

Until then!