“I just want to be HAPPY in my job!”, “I’m too OLD to
change careers now”, or “I don’t know how to be promoted!” I hear this all the
time! Career satisfaction is different for everyone. But it all stems from one
core principle – PURPOSE.
I chat with Tammy Gooler Loeb, a professional coach and
podcast presenter of “Work from the Inside Out”, showcasing stories of career
transitions and job changes that work. Tammy has
been engaging with her clients to clarify their goals, develop personalized
plans and support them in achieving rewarding results.
We explore our thoughts of job stagnation, ageism, corporate ladders, personal branding and career fulfilment among many other fascinating topics to live YOUR best life!
- Can someone actively manage their career to the top?
- Why do people find themselves stagnating in their career?
- What if you are not sure what you want to do?
- How do you actively transition from one career to another?
- Why do we find it so difficult to ask for professional help?
- We are witnessing rapid company re-organisation of structures and skills to stay relevant.
- The structure of the corporate ladder has drastically changed from traditional trajectories.
- Our set of expectations are being met with unexpected life changes.
- Psychologists help you look backward while coaches help you look forward.
- Strategizing your career path by proactively exploring trends in your market and field of work.
- Organisations don’t make decisions. People make decisions.
- NETWORKING is more than shaking hands and swapping business cards.
- Leveraging relationships (old and new). Be interested and not interesting!
- Developing your personal brand. Word-of-mouth is the strongest advocate.
- Expose yourself to the board of other companies allowing you to polish your depth and breadth of expertise.
- A good coach will provoke you to look expansively!
- And most importantly, don’t “should” all over yourself!
Learn more about Tammy
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Lisa Linfield: 00:09 Hello everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth. I’m joined by Tammy Gooler Loeb. We are going to be discussing all things career management today, including what happens when you get stuck, how you make changes, getting promoted, and the absolute secret to a happy career. Tammy, thank you for joining us.
Tammy Gooler: 00:44 It is my pleasure.
Lisa Linfield: 00:46 Tammy, you own your own coaching and consulting business, and you host a podcast called Work From The Inside Out, which showcases stories of career transitions and changes at work. You’ve also been selected as one of the Top 10 Executive Coaches by the readers of Women’s Business Boston, and have an MBA and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. You’ve been a coach for almost 20 years, helping people in all levels of organizations. So I want to ask you, can someone actively manage their career in a straight line up the corporate ladder, or is it really the lack of the door in terms of the people above you leaving their job, which leaves a space for you to move up?
Tammy Gooler: 01:35 What a great question, Lisa. It depends. Yes, somebody can actively manage their career in a straight line up the corporate ladder. Although I would say that in more recent years, that is probably a more challenging thing to do because the structure in many organizations changes more rapidly. Organizations go through their own reorganizations, there’s mergers and acquisitions. Companies are not remaining the same as they used to. So the structures of organizations isn’t the same, but I would say that there’s the corporate ladder within an organization that has changed a lot. I think there’s also in someone’s own mind, in their own ladder of progression in their own career, how they might see themselves moving in a linear fashion that there are people who have it in their minds, how they might want to see their career progressing. They can take charge of that and move that forward.
What I’ve found though is that a lot of people will have a set of expectations or ideas, about how they want to move things forward. As they go forward, there are all kinds of twists and turns, things that happen, unexpected things that will stop them in their tracks, and they will change gears and decide to make some changes along the way. So it’s rare that a career does really follow a straight line. I think more often than not these days, people are taking twists and turns, mostly because life doesn’t really work that way. I would say that you can actively manage your career, it’s just not necessarily in a straight line.
Lisa Linfield: 03:34 One of the things that, challenges that direct upward trajectories when we find ourselves getting stuck, how do you get yourself out of getting stuck and why do people find themselves stuck?
Tammy Gooler: 03:48 Well, I think there’s a number of ways in which people find themselves stuck. Sometimes they get comfortable in a particular position. They’re working, they’re doing very well financially, and yet they may not be feeling particularly challenged. They start to get a little bored, or let’s say the management or the leadership in the organization is less inclined to promote them, or give them additional responsibilities and they find themselves, they don’t necessarily want to leave the organization, but they’re not really seeing a path upward within the organization. Sometimes people get stuck because they get accustomed to earning a certain level of income, and they’re afraid that if they try to leave or let’s say change industries or even change careers, that they’ll have to take a pay cut, and they’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. So they don’t want to compromise that for a variety of reasons.
They get stuck in a certain lifestyle, and they’re not willing to risk that. So there’s a number of different ways that people get stuck. They can’t see their way around certain barriers, or a big place where people get stuck is in fear. They’re afraid of the unknown, they’re afraid of making a change. They know that where they are in the moment isn’t making them happy anymore, or they’re just not feeling satisfied with where they’re at, but they’re not sure they know what they do want. They’re not even sure how to go about finding that. That’s usually where someone like myself comes in, where I can help somebody unpack their unhappiness or unpack their interests and think about, well, what might you consider doing? What could you do? What might that look like? Helping them to see what the possibilities are.
Oftentimes people stuck because they stay inside their own heads, and they’re trying to problem-solve all by themselves, and they’re not necessarily having these conversations with anyone else because it can be a little scary. It can feel unsafe to even say these things out loud, so they get stuck inside their own heads. When we’re so close to our own situations, we lose perspective and it’s always helpful I think to talk to someone else. Doesn’t have to be a coach, but it could even be just a trusted friend, or person in your life to start to have that conversation and say what’s happening right now isn’t working for me anymore and I need to think about what else is possible.
Lisa Linfield: 06:41 It’s such a challenge. So if I work backwards on those three reasons, from a fear perspective, it saddens me when I see people that have got to a position where they are too scared even to begin the looking outwards. They’ve convinced themselves that it’s going to be worse out there. It just feels to me like such a waste of an enormous amount of talent and opportunity, because the elephant in your head is often a tiny little mouse on the table if you can chat to the right person, who can help you kick start your career. Then the other one that you mentioned is this whole challenge of money, because I see it so often where people has this salary increases, so does their spend increase. They get to a stage where they are locked and they don’t have the freedom of choice as to what to do with their careers, because they’ve spent themselves into the salary that they have.
The one that I think is very common that you mentioned is when one gets stuck because there’s not much space above and especially in large corporations. When you get to that almost VP/SVP level where there are maybe only nine positions at the very, very top and 300 people in the level below. When 300 people are all going for nine positions, it can often put a massive challenge into people’s perception of an upward career. How does one get around those odds?
Tammy Gooler: 08:16 That’s a great question. Well, I think for somebody who, let’s say is at that senior director level or maybe even a VP level hoping to get to that senior VP level, if they don’t see their way to progressing within the company that they’re in, chances are they are going to have to start looking outside their own organization. I think they have to do a lot of networking. What I mean by that isn’t just to run around shaking hands and exchanging business cards, but they really have to give themselves some time, and really use a lot of patience to explore what’s out there. What other organizations or companies are out there where they feel like they could really make their mark, really make a contribution. Take the experience that they’ve developed, and really contribute their leadership and really help grow and develop another organization.
Sometimes it may even be a matter of going to a smaller organization and trying to get into a higher level role in a smaller company. So there’s a number of ways to look at it, but I think that the most important thing to do is to start to have lots of exploratory conversations, and to do it in a way that feels safe. A lot of people are very again, fear does play a role in this where people are afraid if word gets out that they’re looking. So I think that you do want to be careful if you’re worried about that, but you can do research. Even reading trade publications, exploring who’s out there, what companies are growing, who got acquired recently and is growing, who’s out there, what trusted colleagues do you have out there? Maybe someone you worked with years ago, or a company that maybe just got awarded a new patent. There’s all kinds of ways to get information and figure out who’s on the cutting edge of something that you’re interested in, or you have expertise in where you might be able to make a contribution.
Again, when I talk about networking, I’m talking about doing research and getting information, and figuring out where can you have some of those strategic information gathering conversations to see where you might fit in, and have some confidential conversations if that feels safe. The other thing that some people do when they’re in that position, if they feel like they’re hitting a ceiling and that it’s not going to go anywhere, some people then decide to hang up their own sign and say, “You know what? I’m going to start my own business. I’m going to go the entrepreneurial route. I’m going to start my own firm.” Some people are very comfortable doing that. Even if it’s a little scary, they can build their own business. So that’s another thing that some people can do. The other concern that happens at this stage of the game when somebody’s reached that level, at least here in the U.S. especially, and I would imagine it happens in other countries as well, is the concern around ageism.
People get worried that they’re not going to get hired, because people will think that they’re too old, that they’re going to command too high of a salary, or that they’re not going to stick around for too long because they’re headed for retirement. As you said, there are a limited number of roles at that level, so there’s a number of different factors to consider, but I think number one is open your eyes and gather the information you need so that you can start to make some really good strategic decisions about what you think you might want to do next.
Lisa Linfield: 11:59 One of the things that I remember having discussions in one of the corporates that I was in was that they should also be an encouragement of a rotation at that level below the top nine, because sometimes for many reasons, for the reasons of age, for the reasons of salary, for many different reasons one decides you need to stay in the organization. It doesn’t mean that you want to do the same job for 15 years, or eight years, or stay in that same position, but you still would love to learn and grow. Sometimes even just doing job rotation, or taking a role in a different area even within the same organization and on the same label. So a lateral move can provide a huge stimulation just in terms of learning and growing, and getting to know and figure out new things.
Tammy Gooler: 12:49 Yeah, I mean that would be ideal in some cases. I think there are some organizations that just don’t allow for that. If they do, it’s at a much lower level where it’s more of a management training kind of situation. The other thing that occurs to me though, for somebody at that let’s say more seasoned management level, senior level, would be to consider trying to get yourself onto the board of another company or corporation. That’s an opportunity where you would have that exposure to a variety of areas of the operations, and vision of the organization when you sit on a board. So it does give you that variety and that new perspective, but you also get to bring the depth and the breadth of your own experience to bear on that.
It also gets you into a situation where you’re working alongside other very experienced people. So I think that’s an option that some people do avail themselves of when they reach a certain point where they’re looking for a change, they still want to be actively involved, but they are really looking and maybe even to step away from some of the day to day operations, but still have an impact on the health and the growth of an organization to serve on the corporate board.
Lisa Linfield: 14:14 So when it comes to a person making the decision that they actually want to make a career move and transition somewhere else, either to a new role or a different career, what steps do you coach them through to actively transition?
Tammy Gooler: 14:32 Well first and foremost, we look at really know yourself. Start there. What I often will have people do is take a little look in the mirror, and look at what are the things that you’ve been doing all these years or in recent years that you would like to continue doing? What people tend to do when they come to me is they’ll hand me a resume or an old resume, and it’ll be a bucket full of everything that they’ve done. I’ll say, “Well, so do you want to still do these things, because this is just a big pile of stuff?” So what I really try to do is work together to really develop their brand. Who are they? Who do they want to present themselves as? What are they most proud of? As opposed to well, here’s what I’m good at, I’m capable of doing these things. These are things I’ve done well.
While those are things you may be proud of, the question I still always press them on is, do you want to do these things? So while it may be something you’ve done very well, if it’s something you no longer want to do, let’s really start to get clear about what it is you want to do versus what you’re good at. My hope is that the things you want to do, you are also very good at because otherwise, how do you really promote that to people? Chances are you are very good at many things, but it’s very important to get clear about who you are, not just what you do. That’s a great place to start, because especially at a higher level, employers are going to want to bring you in because of who you are. That likability factor, actually. When you have a pool of candidates in front of you, you need to hire somebody who is going to be a good fit within the culture of your organization.
So you could have a ton of candidates in front of you who all have the same experiences and the same strengths and skills, but then you’ve got to find the person who really brings the right attributes to the blend of people that you’re already working with to contribute to the whole. So that’s where I think it’s most important to really be clear about who you are, and not just what you’re good at or what you do. So it’s at that deeper level that we try to get clear about. Then beyond that, again, we go to a very in depth and extensive process of research or what some people call networking. It is about information gathering, but it’s also about relationship building. It always surprises me how many people who’ve been out in the workforce for a long time or been in a job for a long time, and they have pretty much let go of a lot of relationships over the years. So we work on either rebuilding some older relationships, but also building new relationships.
Those relationships are vital to them connecting with where the opportunities might be, and it’s usually not your warmest relationships where you will find your next opportunity. I’m sure it will be no surprise to your audience that word of mouth is the strongest marketing and networking tool that we all have. So I tell people constantly, “Look online at positions for about 10% of your time and spend the rest of your time talking to people, and developing those relationships and getting to know people.” One thing that I really emphasize with people around that is to be interested, not interesting. I think when you’re in the market for a new role, people are very concerned with how people view them and they’re very self focused. I would say be other focused. Be interested in the people you’re talking to. Show an interest in them, what they’re doing, what their motivations are, what’s important to them, what keeps them up at night, what gets them excited about getting up in the morning. Find out what’s going on in their companies.
The more you learn about that, the more you’re going to understand where you’re going to find your best fit, and the more you show an interest in them, the more they’re going to be excited about you. So be interested and not interesting.
Lisa Linfield: 19:21 It’s one of the things that always fascinates me when we think about approaching a company. Be it because we want to sell something, be it because we are looking for a job, is that we forget that it’s not a company that makes decisions. They have frameworks and tools and things like that. It’s always a person. At the end of the day, there’s always a person who’s making a decision. I think what you say is so valuable is that we’re always, and I speak for myself, we’re always so busy trying to convince everyone else that our message or us as a person is the way forward, or what you need because I’m the one that’s going to fill your job and change company when in actual fact, any form of connection and connective relationships is for most people if you reach out into them in they need or their context. You will have a far better and easier chance of really being sensitive to what they really do need, rather than what you think that they need, or you think they should have.
Tammy Gooler: 20:20 Exactly. I tell people all the time, I say, “You’re not a mind reader. You don’t have a crystal ball, so you don’t know really what they’re thinking. So don’t behave and form your messages based on what you think they’re thinking, because you don’t know what they’re thinking and you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Even though dealing with the unknown and not knowing what’s going to happen is uncomfortable, just realize that you just don’t know. There are things that we don’t have control over. We don’t have any control over what someone else’s perception of us is, but what we do know is that when people feel heard, I mean there’s research that shows this. When people feel heard, they are going to be far more open to us and want to learn more about us. So if you show that you’re interested in them, the likelihood is quite good that they are going to listen to you, and be more interested in you.
Based on those principles, it’s far less about what you say than just leaving them with a general feeling or impression. There’s that saying that Maya Angelou often gets credit for, although there’s another gentleman who also had said it whose name I’m forgetting right now. The quote is one of my favorite quotes actually is, “They may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” That really bodes very well in these kinds of situations. They may not remember anything of what you said, but if you left them with a good impression, that you are a good listener or that you showed an interest in them and their company, or that you were just a nice person to talk to, you’ve accomplished a lot right then and there.
Lisa Linfield: 22:14 One of the things you’re talking about networks, and how often people let go off their networks over time. One of the things that I’ve worked out having left corporate, and being completely independent is that you’re work colleagues will always be there for you in a work context. So often we leave a company and we thought we were pretty good friends with the people that we’re colleagues, and we leave and we don’t care or we don’t find them in a personal context. So we think, well we can’t go back to Maryanne Jane, you haven’t spoken to her for 10 years, how can you possibly go back? One of the things that I’ve worked out is that you always have a work relationship with work colleagues, and so getting back in touch with them from a work perspective is completely natural. Nobody expects or thinks that you should have been phoning to keep up with how the kids are, because the context of your relationship is work.
So often we shoot ourselves in own foot by not reaching out to those old networks, when really when some of my old colleagues get hold of me, it doesn’t even cross my mind that it’s out of context. Totally in context if there’s something that we need to talk about work wise. It’s totally in context that they would reach out to me or I to them.
Tammy Gooler: 23:29 Yeah, I hear that a lot. They’ll say, “Well, I was looking on LinkedIn and I found this person who works at that company, but I haven’t talked to them in 10 years. I can’t call them. That would be such an imposition.” I say, “So if that person called you today, would you be insulted if you got a call from them?” They say, “No, I’d be happy to hear from them.” So I say, “But they’d be insulted to hear from you?” They say, “I hadn’t thought about it that way.”
Lisa Linfield: 24:05 Absolutely, and it is. I mean I adore my work colleagues. It’s the thing I miss about being in my own business is that comradery and all that, and when any of them need anything, it’s wonderful to hear from them because it is contextual to work in to a time of your life when you spent a lot of time with them.
Tammy Gooler: 24:23 Yeah. It’s flattering actually when I hear from somebody who I haven’t heard from in a while, and they’re getting in touch with me to ask me a question based on something they think I can answer for them, I’m flattered. I’m thrilled that they thought of me. I’m thrilled that they remember me, so I’m not insulted. I don’t feel put upon at all. I think it’s great. So I say to everyone out there, if you reach out to somebody you haven’t talked to in a while, what’s the worst thing that can happen? They don’t answer you. That’s the worst thing that can happen, but to make assumptions and write a story in your head that they’re going to be offended and who are you to get in touch with someone you haven’t talked to in 10 years, that’s just a story you’ve made up in your head. What that does is that comes under the category of getting in your own way of your own progress, and I’m always telling people, “Get out of your own way.”
Lisa Linfield: 25:27 Absolutely, I think often the stories we tell ourselves are the largest impediment to our progress, rather than actually the real things out there.
Tammy Gooler: 25:36 Yeah, definitely.
Lisa Linfield: 25:38 Why are we all so terrified to seek help through coaches, or people who are professionals in the area of careers?
Tammy Gooler: 25:49 Well I think culturally, many of us in many places have often been raised to develop ourselves as independent people who can think for ourselves, and asking for help is a sign of weakness. We’re educated, we’re taught to solve our own problems, we’re given and taught skills to think and problem solve. So asking for help is a sign of weakness, and yet I think we’ve taken that to an extreme. I mean absolutely we should be developing ourselves as problem solvers, but part of being a good problem solver is putting two heads together because as we say, two heads are better than one, right? There is some underlying message that has been instilled in many of us from a very young age onward, that asking for help somehow makes you a weak person in some way. I don’t really know where it comes from exactly, I just know that many of us seem to, have to have overcome that.
It also is, I think when you ask for help, it does make you feel vulnerable because you also are telling yourself a story that nobody else would need to ask this question. Nobody else would need to ask for this kind of help when in fact, when you are the brave soul who asks the question, there’s a silent chorus of people all clapping their hands in relief saying, “My goodness, I’m so glad you asked that question, because I’ve been wondering the same thing myself.” So again, I say what’s the worst thing that can happen when you ask that question that you think everyone around you is going to be judging you for asking that question? Probably not. The worst thing that’ll happen is no one will have an answer, because they don’t know the answer either. The best thing that will happen is everybody’s going to be patting you on the back saying, “Thank you for asking the question.”
Lisa Linfield: 27:54 Absolutely. I know personally I had a number of career coaches through my time, and it’s a fantastic gift that often corporates do give is to provide a line item in the budget for coaching. I have to confess that I was definitely raised in one of those sort your stuff out yourself, and especially when it came to my career. I always thought that nobody was better at thinking through their career that me, because it’s my career, you know? I have through the different organizations I went to, I engaged in a number of career coaches who helped me think through every part of every major decision I’ve made in corporate. I cannot tell you that it’s the number one thing I now as an entrepreneur, still invest in coaches.
The reason why is because sometimes you can think yourself into a circle in your own head. Whereas just even the process of voicing your own thoughts to someone else, really helps to unlock the next steps and the way forward. I also find that we don’t have all the information. So someone whose job it is to help other people navigate careers have seen many more examples, many more pathways. In fact, they’re also a lot of the times connected, a lot greater than any of us are connected. So I’ve always found that that different insight, that different method of taking you through a thinking process and the different tools that they have in their toolkit that I didn’t have in terms of how you think can go about and approach these things, have been significant in my personal development and also my career development.
As I said, I still pay for a coach. If I need someone to help me think through something, I will definitely get a coach. One of the great things I love about coaches, I was once taught this by a coach is that psychologist help you look backwards, but coaches help you look forwards. That for me is the huge momentum that I always need, is that ability to look forward and to help me navigate the choices available.
Tammy Gooler: 29:59 Yes.
Lisa Linfield: 30:00 So I wanted to say yay, absolutely.
Tammy Gooler: 30:04 I appreciate that you are a walking advertisement for coaching, and I just want to add to what you just said about that, because coaches are not there to fix it for you. They are there to walk alongside with you, and help you ask the questions that you can’t think of yourself because you’re so close to the situation. So they’re able to ask you the thought provoking questions that get you really to solve your own problems. They’re not solving them for you, but they might provoke you into a space where you can think more expansively. So a good coach will really help you to solve your own problems, or to develop yourself further and really help you develop some thinking skills, and strategies that you get to take going forward.
The most rewarding thing that occurs in my life is when I have a former client come back to me, and tell me about a situation they may have been in more recently where they say, “I was in this situation a couple of weeks ago, and your voice came into my head and was telling me something we talked about two years ago. I had that framework in my mind and I was able to use it in order to get through that situation. I just wanted to let you know that I have that in my toolkit now.” That made me so happy that they had something with them that they could use going forward. That’s really what it’s all about.
Lisa Linfield: 31:40 Absolutely. I used corporate coaches in my corporate life, and then as an entrepreneur, one of the biggest decisions that I have made so far was to buy businesses in order to grow or to grow organically. For me, compared to the amount of money that I would have paid to buy the business that I was looking at buying, a corporate coach was worth it [inaudible 00:32:03], because the coach help give me the frameworks to really navigate whether that particular path of growth was the right one. I went to London Business School, I studied mergers and acquisitions. It seemed like the right path, but actually when I went through the thinking process and deeply engaged with the tool sets, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the right way that I wanted to grow.
That in actual fact, I wanted to grow organically. So it prevented me from not only spending a fortune of money on a path that wasn’t ideally suited for me, it also prevented me from a huge amount of heartache. Now that I look back, I’m so grateful for that decision. I get teary when I see my coach, because I just think you saved me so much money that I would have wasted in this whole process.
Tammy Gooler: 32:50 I hope your coach just heard that. That’s another aspect to coaching that I think is very important, and that is that we really do try to not just look at what our heads are telling us, but what our hearts are telling us. So there really is an opportunity in coaching to look at both where we are intellectually, but also emotionally and not in a therapy-like way, but more in a way of who are you, what do you bring to this as a human being, who are you as a person? Really blending that so that you’re making decisions, not just talking yourself into something that makes logical sense, but that makes sense for you as a whole human being. That really makes the difference, and you just described that so beautifully.
Lisa Linfield: 33:36 Absolutely. I think also when I was still in corporate and I was making the decision, I went back to study because I needed a specific degree in terms of being a financial services CEO. So I’m investing in the CEO pathway, and I had a great coach. Through that process of time, one of the things that we worked at was that the story I had told myself from a little girl, which is that the winners become CEO and the best people become CEO, was questioning whether that is what I thought would bring me happiness and fulfillment. The answer that I got to was no. Walking along my path of becoming a financial advisor and teaching a million women about money, that would give me a passion and an energy and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Going along the CEO of path that was somehow imbibed in me, it’s imbibed in us to be the best, the top of the pile, the number one in the hierarchy.
It’s some way that society tells us that that’s what the cleverest and the best are going to be. I remember going through this process and all coaches have different techniques, and come from different coaching modalities. The particular coach I selected for that period of time, I selected her because I knew she was going to challenge me to come to the solution myself. She would not tell me the way forward. I can be quite persuasive, so I knew that this was what I needed to do. I knew I had to do the work within myself, to really question what society made me to believe I should be on as a path, and what I knew deep in my soul I needed to do. It was a fantastic thing, but it takes the courage and for that reason it’s why you need to do the thinking yourself, because you don’t ever want to stand back and blame someone for bad advice because that’s not the coaching process. It’s not to advise you.
Tammy Gooler: 35:31 No, it’s not. Well, coaching is not advice. If you have a coach who’s giving you direct advice, my hope would be that if they’re doing that, it’s coming from a place of service and that they are explicitly saying to you, “Okay, before I say this to you, I’m taking off my coaching hat.”
Lisa Linfield: 35:52 There are definitely appropriate times for that.
Tammy Gooler: 35:53 Yes, there are. Yeah, definitely.
Lisa Linfield: 35:55 You’ve interviewed a whole bunch of people you have worked with as a coach, a whole bunch of people. In your personal opinion, what is it that is the secret to a happy career? Not a great to the top, a happy career. Fulfilled, a really happy career.
Tammy Gooler: 36:17 Well Lisa, you just described it, because what you just said was I thought that the path to success was to become a CEO, and what I realized was I really want to help women be empowered financially. I want to teach them about finances. That’s my purpose. That’s where my depth is. So a happy career is one where you are really experiencing your depth of purpose, your why, as I call it. What’s your why? Why are you doing what you’re doing? If you ask yourself that question, why am I doing this? If the answer is because society told me this is the path, or because my parents always told me I was good at this, or because this is what I should be doing. If the word should ever comes into the sentence, you know that you’re not on the path that you should be. Even though I just said should.
Lisa Linfield: 37:27 I’m literally smiling and nodding my head as you circle back to that point. If the word should comes into your mouth, you really need to think deeply.
Tammy Gooler: 37:37 Yeah and I didn’t come up with this, so I can’t take credit for it, but the expression is don’t should all over yourself, because that takes you to a place where you’re fulfilling other people’s expectations of what their images, of what you ought to be doing with your life. Not to say that there might not be some matches there, but you just described it perfectly really in terms of the path that you’ve been on, and your trajectory from corporate to going into your own business of self employment, and the direction that you’ve taken with your business and the sense of real deep purpose and fulfillment in what you’re doing now. I know the level of excitement that you feel, and satisfaction you feel with what you’re doing. That is a happy career. It really is. It’s about purpose and really feeling that connection to that. That’s the secret. It’s not even really a secret, but we can call it that.
Lisa Linfield: 38:39 Well, I think one of the things as you were talking about, it is natural that our first thoughts of what a career is would come from other people, because we haven’t had a career. It comes from society, our parents, the examples we see around us, the books we read, things like that. It is natural, but I think there is a crucial step where you go through those shoulds, and you work out what you would like to take on as your own and what is just something out there. I used to always say to my teams, “I’d rather end up some way because we’ve actively chosen to go along that path, than an automatic default because we haven’t actually engaged in the thinking process to say, is this really a path we want to be on?”
Tammy Gooler: 39:27 Exactly. We all need to be asking ourselves those questions. The thing is that many of us go through life really just following the default, and don’t really question whether this is the path that we want to be on. So hopefully, maybe people who are listening to this will stop and say, “Hey, I think I’m going to give this another thought.”
Lisa Linfield: 39:54 One of the things that have been on my mind a lot, and I’ve actually asked a number of our recent interview people is a question I’m exploring, which is why don’t people negotiate their pay raises either when they’re taking a job or when they’re in a job? Why don’t they ask for what they’re worth, or negotiate much better in terms of making sure that they get what they’re worth? So there are no such things as pay gaps, or any of that stuff, or inequality in pay between different people, why don’t we ask?
Tammy Gooler: 40:28 Well, I think there’s a number of reasons why. First of all, it’s scary. Why is it scary? It’s scary because people are afraid that they will be told no, and that butts up against them feeling like well, how do I know what I’m worth? It is somewhat subjective, unless they’ve really done their research. A lot of people, when they think about going into that conversation, I think they start to think about it from a place of really not knowing what to say, and how to approach the conversation. The people I know who go into those conversations with a sense of feeling grounded and confident, they’ve done their research. They’ve figured out what the market is paying, they have gotten very clear about what contributions they are making, or will be making to the organization and how that can be put up against what the market is paying, and they know how to make the case.
Most people don’t go there. They don’t do the preparation and therefore, they skip all those steps and then they’re in this place of not knowing, not feeling grounded, not feeling prepared, and then in a clumsy way just asking, “Is there any flexibility on the salary? Okay. Forget it.” So I think people are afraid of what they don’t know, and I think people even get to the point of even not knowing what they don’t know to the extent they don’t even know where to begin. So they know that they’re supposed to negotiate, but they’re also afraid that, and I saw this actually happen once where a client of mine was offered a job and was about to negotiate on the offer. Asked if there was any wiggle room on the salary, and the employer withdrew the offer just like that. Now that’s pretty harsh, but that’s the kind of thing people are afraid of.
Lisa Linfield: 42:37 I remember Sheryl Sandberg’s comment in her book, Lean In, which was that she went in and she negotiated with Mark Zuckerberg and her comment to him was, “I’m going to be on the other side of the negotiating table for you. You would not expect me not to negotiate given that I’m going to be the chief operating officer to negotiate your procurement deals in that merges and acquisitions and things like that.”
Tammy Gooler: 42:59 Right, right. So at that level, I can’t imagine an employer not wanting someone to negotiate. When we’re talking about someone at that level, we’re talking about a much smaller group of people who probably, I would like to think already have some of those negotiation skills that they’ve already reached that level, and they have at least some ability to do that. I guess I could be wrong that there are some people who reach that level who don’t, especially if they’ve worked with an executive search firm, or a headhunter who has maybe done the negotiation for them. That happens sometimes, but the fear around that is often that they will be told no, or that they will lose the opportunity, or if they’re already on the job and they’re asking for a pay raise, that that might impinge or harm the relationships that they already have on the job.
So there’s a whole lot of things to be afraid of, to be honest with you, that keep people from trying to have that conversation. I think the first thing to address isn’t the pay raise or the negotiation. The first thing to do is to do your homework and make a case, and get yourself grounded in what you want to say and how you want to craft your message, and engage the relationship with the person that you’re going to have that conversation with. Think of it that way from a relationship perspective. If you go at it purely from the perspective of here’s what I want to get out of this, this is all about me, then you’re missing the boat. If you’re going to go about it as here’s something that’s important to me, but it’s also important to you because it’s all about the value that I want to contribute to benefit our company. This is about what’s good for the company. Like what Sheryl Sandberg said is, look, you want someone who’s able to do this. This is all part and parcel to the whole picture.
Lisa Linfield: 44:58 I think that many people, especially in the junior levels don’t actually know that there are companies that benchmark salary ranges for every type of job. You need to reach out to a recruitment company or one of these benchmarking companies, and you can easily find the range of salary that is for a specific role, and the role you are either currently doing or want to do and then understand clearly through coaching and through an honest discovery process that the bottom of the range applies to the entry level, and the top of the range applies to exceptional performers. The question is where do you fit within that range and therefore, are you accurately paid?
Tammy Gooler: 45:41 Right. Yeah, and I would recommend that anyone who really is feeling skiddish about this process, this is definitely a good reason to hire a coach. This is not something that I would recommend somebody play with alone, because it can be a very delicate process. If you can get really good at this, you are going to feel so good about yourself regardless of the results. If you can go into this really feeling like you have your two feet on the ground, and there are some really good resources out there that can give you the information you need, but then there’s the dance of the negotiation that you really need to get comfortable with. So having the right information is key, but then also having the confidence and the grounding to then navigate that conversation. Very, very important.
Lisa Linfield: 46:32 Also, one of the things that I firmly believe is it’s not a conversation you want to practice in your head. The nerve pathways in your head thinking something and actually saying your speech or your prepared piece, it’s really great to have a coach or someone else to actually say through and to role play the different reactions that potentially could happen, so that you feel prepared for almost any response. I often say then I think it makes such an important difference, because the reality of life is that it’s not just now, it’s every percentage increase for the rest of your career that this conversation can benefit. So do some work to prepare for it.
Tammy Gooler: 47:18 Yeah, and it’s not just about negotiating for a pay raise. It could be negotiating for something else you want. It could be trying to get an increase in paid time off, or in negotiating something around a project that you’re working on where you want to have a certain amount of latitude or responsibility. There’s a lot of ways to think about this that you really are strengthening some muscles that you have in a way that really goes beyond just your rate of pay, but also in terms of learning skills around influencing and negotiating. So there’s a whole lot of good reasons to really work on this. I always say to people, don’t just make this about you and the money. Again, think about your why. Why are you doing this? Is it about making two or 3% more every year, because that really shouldn’t be what’s compelling you? What else is compelling you here?
Lisa Linfield: 48:13 Absolutely. We’ve moved through our career and we look at the end of the career journey, and we look at people who are nearing retirement. One of my great interest in life is this transition process of what I call within five years, but it’s particularly heightened the second year and the first year before retirement. Why is it when people specifically in corporates who have a foster time at age, why is it when people know that they’re going to retire, is the transition process almost always still quite traumatic?
Tammy Gooler: 48:49 Even though they know it’s coming, it’s not till they’re actually in it that they realize just how different their life really is, and they haven’t prepared for it. It makes me think of also, my daughter just graduated from university a few years ago. I watched her and all her contemporaries when they finished university, they spent their entire lives being students. All of a sudden come September, they don’t have to go back to school. Many of them were working, but it was still like all of a sudden they were in charge of their own lives whereas all these years their parents were running their lives. So still there’s something shocking about it, even though you know it’s coming, it’s still not something you know what it’s going to be like. It’s just a shock.
Obviously there are things you can do to prepare for it, but I do think that there’s a way in which you can prepare, but it’s like becoming a parent for the first time too. You can prepare, you can get the crib, you can get the diapers ready and all that, but until that little bundle shows up in your life, you don’t know what it’s going to be like to be a parent. I think there are a number of things in life, not to compare, but it is like all of a sudden you’ve had this identity. You’ve been this professional and you’ve spent your days, many, many days, you’ve been conditioned being this person. Then you wake up one morning and all of a sudden, you’re not that person. You knew it was coming, but you really had no idea what it was going to be like until you’re there. So it’s pretty shocking.
Lisa Linfield: 50:35 I think also it makes me think of the transition from, especially when you go from a functional role like marketing or IT or whatever, and then you step up to the leadership team. I’ve coached a number of people through that just from a work perspective, and I always say to them there are a couple of things that you will never be able to truly understand until you’re there. The first one is that so much changes, and the hardest battle in all of these changes is the battle of the mind. You sit at that table that you’ve just been promoted into and you feel completely lost. You feel the newbie. You’re at the bottom of the food chain, because you’re the newbie onto to the table. It’s not hard, it’s just a massive level of complexity. Whereas for example, you’ve only made decisions on marketing. Now suddenly you’re an equal deciding partners to what system they’re going to buy, or do they do a merger and acquisition.
All these things, then actual fact you don’t have the functional background to make those decisions, and so you are forever reading and trying to get yourself there. Other things like your teammates suddenly become your employees, your colleagues suddenly become the level below you. There are so many transitions one does in life, where I look at it and I go you have to get a coach for these kinds of transitions. You have to go through the other side. So it’s not just the coach who helps you get the promotion, or get you “ready” for retirement. You have to get the coach on the other side to help you with that transition, because one of the things you don’t actually want to do is vent to the people you used to vent to.
Your boss suddenly becomes your colleague, or your colleagues become your subordinates. All those people you used to speak to are not the people you want to be speaking to now, because you want an external person who can just act as a sounding board, who’s watched [inaudible 00:52:36]. You can say it’s totally normal. Every single other person sitting at the table the first time they’d sat in a multidisciplinary table had the exact same stuff where it’s not hard. It’s just a huge step change difference in thinking, in responsibility, in interactions.
Tammy Gooler: 52:59 True. I think there are things you can do to prepare ahead of time for something you know that’s coming, and then there’s just limitations to that because until you are actually in it, there will be surprises. You just don’t know how you’re going to feel, like the examples that I just gave for earlier transitions in life. So in a way, you almost want to say to yourself in preparation, “I know there are parts of this, I just don’t know how I’m going to feel.” So maybe that’s part of the preparation is to say I need to know that there are going to be things that show up that I’m not ready for. Okay, well let’s see what happens.
Lisa Linfield: 53:39 Absolutely. So Tammy, it’s been just fantastic to almost cover one’s whole entire career with someone who is a career expert. How do people learn more from you? Hear more about the work that you’re doing, be part of the conversations you are having?
Tammy Gooler: 53:57 Thank you, Lisa. Well, there’s a number of ways. They can listen to my podcast, and they can find me at workfromtheinsideout.com, that’s my podcast or probably even better at my website, tammygoolerloeb.com.
Lisa Linfield: 54:16 Well, we’ll include all of the links to that in the show notes, but thank you, Tammy for joining us. I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom with all of us.
Tammy Gooler: 54:25 Thank you, Lisa. It’s been a pleasure.
Lisa Linfield: 54:27 That was Tammy Gooler Loeb. I really do encourage any of you that if you are going through a transition, or you would like to change the direction of your career, it has been probably the best money that I’ve spent is to locate a great career coach, and to have someone work with you to navigate it. The wonderful thing about coaches is that they don’t tell you what to do. They provide you tool sets and thinking structures that help you to get to the right decision for you. As I said in the interview, the money that I’ve spent on coaches has been the best money that I’ve invested in my own capacity, but also that businesses have invested in me, because it is truly one of the great strengths in life to feel that you are actively driving and managing your career. So I would recommend that you listen to Tammy’s podcast, or read some of her articles, or reach out to a coach that’s local to you. Take care, have a great week.