Reinventing Your Career in Times of Ambiguity Jenn T. Grace, Nicolle Merrill, and Jennifer Brown 

[00:00:00] Jennifer B: [00:00:00] Jennifer 

[00:00:02] Jenn: [00:00:02] Brown. Hello, 

[00:00:04] Jennifer B: [00:00:04] grace. Hello? Happy Monday. Oh my goodness. Another week. Another long week 

[00:00:10] Jenn: [00:00:10] it’s Monday feels like Friday already a good start. 

[00:00:15] Nicole: [00:00:15] Totally. 

[00:00:18] Jenn: [00:00:18] What? Let’s just dive right into our yesterday. Cause I feel like we’re going to have a really awesome conversation. So we’re talking to Nicole Merrill today who among many, many things is a.

[00:00:28] Futurist in career and about reinventing yourself. So I feel like constantly, Jen, we’re always talking about like the times that we’re in, like we are in uncharted times, uncertain times, depressing times, like all of these different things, but today it’s all about like times of ambiguity and I’m just really excited for Nicole, what you, what you will share with us.

[00:00:48] So welcome to our. I don’t even know what this is, the Jen and Jen show.

[00:00:58] Nicole: [00:00:58] Um, 

[00:00:58] Jennifer B: [00:00:58] so, so let [00:01:00] me kick off with a question. Um, so automation was changing our world before all that happened. And now we’re reading headlines about companies, uh, actually keeping this virtualization more of a permanent thing. Right. We all knew was probably going to happen. I mean, I think companies have been looking for ways to cut corners on a lot of things for a long time, number one, real estate, right.

[00:01:22] And all those, you know, pricing, um, square feet, they maintain in large cities. Um, the commute is onerous for all of us. So this is like, Partially good news, I think for a bunch of us, but, um, but the question of robots, which you take on 

[00:01:36] Nicole: [00:01:36] like directly in your book from last 

[00:01:38] Jennifer B: [00:01:38] year, which I’d recommend everybody check out, you know, this was always creeping up on us, the automation of our jobs.

[00:01:45] Um, and yet you kind of view this. You always did, and even more now. So you always use this as an opportunity for us to become very learning agile, to kind of, um, I guess investigate, broadening [00:02:00] our skills in certain ways so that we robot 

[00:02:02] Nicole: [00:02:02] proof 

[00:02:03] Jennifer B: [00:02:03] our future careers. And you might, you might even argue, this is not like all bad news.

[00:02:08] I mean, there’s a lot of opportunity embedded and maybe even now during the pandemic, there are some further insights you have about like, How correct you were, or perhaps things are accelerating that you predicted. So tell us a little bit about, like, what do you make of this moment, 

[00:02:21] Nicole: [00:02:21] for sure. I think, you know, I think when it comes to kind of looking at technology, like we talk about automation and a lot of times we talk about robots, right?

[00:02:29] And we talk about artificial intelligence can be really overwhelming. And I think if you’re just coming to this now and you’re in the middle. So also the career chaos that is around us, thanks to lay offs and uncertainty. It can be a lot. And so really one of my goals is to help people approach it a little more, make it a little more accessible to people.

[00:02:45] And instead of being nervous about it, be curious about it, right? Because as you said, and you know, to your point, this technology was already in place and starting to take over our workplaces. And now we’re seeing it accelerated. In fact, the website actually Axios just put out, [00:03:00] um, yesterday had a post on how coronavirus will likely accelerate the audit.

[00:03:04] Trends in the workplace because now that they don’t have, um, we’ve seen the word unprecedented, right? As being thrown around a lot, I’m precedent in layoffs, nearly 30 million people have been laid off in the past five, five weeks, which is the scale. It’s really hard to wrap your mind around and it’s cutting across all industries.

[00:03:20] And so what you’re going to see are these businesses starting to say, okay, well, well now we can, we have the flexibility now to put in these tools. And one of the things I. Aim to do is really changing narrative from robots are taking our jobs because that’s not quite accurate, but instead they’re changing our jobs.

[00:03:39] And so what you may find is that if you are currently in a job or maybe you’re looking to go to the next, the next step in your career, you may find that some of these jobs are going to require some digital skills or some data skills that you don’t have. And so that really creates kind of this space to learn those skills and essentially kind of level up right.

[00:03:58] If you’re like most of us, we weren’t taught [00:04:00] how to do that. We were taught like you get into your career and then boom, you are set a life, right? No, I mean, I was taught that and that’s just not the case anymore. And I think what we’re seeing with the coronavirus, um, you know, this career uncertainty aside of it with the layoffs, we’re going to see that trend accelerate.

[00:04:15] And so this is really the time to think about, you know, reflect on where you’re at, you know, with your career and your skills, and then also reflect on how you could learn some new skills as well. 

[00:04:26] Jennifer B: [00:04:26] I love the word augmented that tech is going to actually automations can augment. Absolutely. Right. And it may help us actually potentially, um, be assisted by that and, and focus on different things or.

[00:04:41] You know, I think of the, what can be automated, what has been automated, think about all the things that we’ve already automated that have made our lives. 

[00:04:48] Nicole: [00:04:48] Right. I think about that. One of my, um, you know, growing up, I had my first job at 14 and I remember working in like retail and doing like movie theaters and stuff.

[00:04:57] And eventually I got into offices and I was a [00:05:00] receptionist. And you know, when I fell on hard times in the past, I would get. Temporary jobs is admin assistant. Right. And I spent so much of my day just scheduling, just scheduling and managing everybody’s calendars. And then a couple of years ago, I discovered, uh, Amy, uh, it’s a chat bot equals as the company.

[00:05:19] Um, and it does scheduling for you and responds to your emails. And like most people don’t even realize it’s a bot until you read like the bottom email signature. Right. And that was five years ago. I think I discovered that was my first experience with that. And it’s, that’s a great example of automation and, you know, you may see fewer admin jobs because of that.

[00:05:41] And you may also see, um, maybe an admin job looks a little bit different. If you’re not scheduling all the time, you can use this tool, right. Instead of honestly, scheduling. Calendars all day is really a lot, 

[00:05:54] Jennifer B: [00:05:54] many admins could be doing so much more. Right. I think that this only enables people to kind of [00:06:00] discover new strengths and then grow into positions and become, you know, I think it’s good.

[00:06:05] It keeps it, it, I know like our old thinking. It’s like, this is something being taken away and we associate our currency with our function, like what we know how to do, but I think we’re also underestimating all the things we know how to do. Right. And we need that, that, 

[00:06:21] Nicole: [00:06:21] yeah. I love that. That’s really where I get excited, you know, and one of the things I talk about in the book, we only hear the, the idea of, you know, Oh, robots are taking our jobs, but we need to focus on the possibilities.

[00:06:30] What do they look like? How are they shaped? And how do you look between the lines to kind of find your next step? Right. Again, I go back to the old school way is like, you’ve got this career ladder. You do this, you do this, you did this, but the career ladder is dead at this point. Right. Um, you know, only 19% of companies have a traditional functional ladder to follow.

[00:06:50] Yeah, that’s shocking. Now that was pre pre COVID in 2019. Right. And so you think about that and you think, well, [00:07:00] if the companies don’t really have it together, then why should I also be following this very strict path? Right. It’s a different way of thinking. 

[00:07:08] Jenn: [00:07:08] Do you think that, like, I think we’ve all seen 

[00:07:11] Jennifer B: [00:07:11] that drawing where it’s like 

[00:07:13] Jenn: [00:07:13] traditional career path and it has the ladder.

[00:07:15] It’s like my career path 

[00:07:16] Nicole: [00:07:16] and it’s like, 

[00:07:19] Jenn: [00:07:19] I know like looking at what I have done versus what I’m doing. On the surface, you might be like, this is just one big, whole swirl of chaos. But to me it makes very sequential sense. 

[00:07:28] Jennifer B: [00:07:28] But 

[00:07:29] Jenn: [00:07:29] do you think that there’s going to be more of an acceptance for people to have these zigzags and these really hard pivots in what they were doing before to what they want to be doing now?

[00:07:39] Because I think once upon a time, I feel like it was more frowned upon of like, well, why weren’t you at this job for. More than 15 years, whereas now we’re kind of forcing ourselves into having to reinvent, right? 

[00:07:52] Nicole: [00:07:52] Absolutely. Absolutely. And there’s a couple of reasons for that one. We see, you know, we see people that are hiring are of the same [00:08:00] generation as we are of, of having to navigate, you know, navigate careers that are, that zigzag.

[00:08:06] And now we see, we also seeing organizations getting more complex. And so we’re looking for more interdisciplinary skills, um, Harvard business review last year in September, put up a big piece on interdisciplinary leadership and how leaders need to become more interdisciplinary and learn how to work across departments and not be so siloed because the problems that we work on are so complex, you need to be able to collaborate.

[00:08:29] You need to be able to understand the perspective of, of a, you know, someone that works in it, even though you don’t have a technical background. And so yes, employers are starting to look for people that have a more diverse background and the way that you get that diverse background. And it’s beginning diversity, not necessarily diversity and inclusion, but diversity of skills, the way that you get that is by moving around and trying different things.

[00:08:49] And again, not really. Really butts up against what we’ve been told. Right? And that’s where you see that tension right now, kind of that generational shift. But you know, these recruiters who were recruiting for jobs also have both not [00:09:00] been at their job 15 years. You go look at any recruiter. That’s looking at this at working at the top companies on LinkedIn.

[00:09:05] You’ll see that ping ponging around. Yeah, no. And then you add onto it, you know, layoffs and employer, employee loyalty has declined in part because we are not part of the generation where companies take care of us. Right. Right. Workers are more, we see the gig economy, we see the contract workforce being used even at top companies like Google and Facebook.

[00:09:26] Right. So this idea of longevity and security has also been eroded over time. And we saw that. In the 2008 recession, which honestly feels like a baby 

[00:09:36] Jennifer B: [00:09:36] right now. 

[00:09:38] Nicole: [00:09:38] So I think you have all those factors coming together. That’s, that’s really favorable for people like ourselves who have reinvented every event.

[00:09:45] This is my fourth reinvention here. Um, so yeah, I think it’s favorable and you start to learn how to position yourself for jobs and take the things that you did before and say, Hey, look, I can do this job, but I can also do this other thing over here. And here’s how it’s going to 

[00:09:58] Jennifer B: [00:09:58] benefit you. Okay. 

[00:10:00] [00:10:00] Jenn: [00:10:00] I want to ask a tactical question because I just.

[00:10:05] I know a number of people who’ve been furloughed or they’ve just been completely laid off. There’s absolutely. They know, even if they’re furlough, they kind of know that the end is the end is near. Right. So like they see the writing on the wall, even if it might not be a week from now until they actually get hit with the, Hey, you don’t have a job anymore.

[00:10:19] Jennifer B: [00:10:19] Yeah. 

[00:10:20] Jenn: [00:10:20] What, like, what is a tactical step? Somebody who’s like really like in it right now, like, like, is there some assessment that they can do? Is there like create a list of the things that you’d like to do? Like, is there some exercise to make, you know, someone who’s like really struggling with, like, how am I going to reinvent myself to just at least get them propelled in the right direction.

[00:10:40] Nicole: [00:10:40] Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad you asked that because one of the things, when we’re in kind of this, go go go bit of a panic, generalized anxiety mode that, that all of us are going through trying to figure out. Um, we tend to forget to take time for ourselves and reflect, cause that’s what you’re talking about, right?

[00:10:55] Taking that time for yourself to sit down and reflect on where you’re at and what you need [00:11:00] going forward, what you want going forward need and want are two different things. But that’s part of that process and being able to, um, carve out that space. So I’d say that’s step one is to say, okay, I know. This chaos is going around.

[00:11:11] Um, I know I might be next. I know I have a ton of friends who are really worried about their jobs, and I know plenty of people that have been laid off myself included. Right. Um, I had a contract job and I was let go as part of this. And so, you know, the first step is to say, okay, you know what? Let’s make let’s, let’s just get it down on paper seriously.

[00:11:28] Right. Get it out of your head. That way it’s not circling around causing even more cognitive overload and anxiety. And then start to think, okay, where am I at? Where do I want to go? Right, because this is a big question right now in terms of ambiguity. Do I move forward? Do I move back? Am I taking a pause?

[00:11:45] You know, I’m one of the things I’ve been talking about is that, you know, we’ve been taught to think of this as forward or back because of that career ladder model. When in fact it’s more of a diagonal, right? You’re wanting to try some things you’re going to experiment and you you’re likely going to end up in a different place than where you thought you [00:12:00] were going to be in part, because this is such unprecedented times, right?

[00:12:03] We cannot say for sure, what is going to happen, whether you have a job or not. Right. So I would say the first tactical step is to sit down and say, okay, where am I at right now? Um, what, what do I like about my job? Do I want to do this even going forward? Because some people may find you’re like, this is not what I want at all.

[00:12:20] I’m leaving off. I know people are like, please lay me off. Right. My God, life will be better. And that’s real. And I want to acknowledge that right. Kind of talking careers. Like all these jobs are great. Not all jobs are great. Right. But then again, there’s also, there might be an in between if your goal is to be up here over here and you don’t have these skills, you may need something in between while you’re learning to just pay the bills and the lights on we’re all going through stressful times.

[00:12:48] If you have it. I think that’s part of the, the very big challenge we face right now. That’s that’s not like normal times is that it’s like, I’d love to go after this thing, but I’ve got to pay my bills. Right. And [00:13:00] you need to know, is that your situation? And that again, takes time. You have to sit down and think like, what do I need right now?

[00:13:04] What do I need to pay my bills? What do I want going forward? Do I want a job that has more job security? You know, do I want a job that, um, is my passion, which you may not be able to find right now you have to get set with those things before you can move forward to know what you want. And that’s, it takes time.

[00:13:22] It’s not something you just do in like an hour. And you’re like, okay, I’ve got everything. Um, if you do good on you, but some sometime with it. Yeah. Think about it, talk to people that know you talk it out. If you’re an external processor. 

[00:13:37] Jennifer B: [00:13:37] Yeah. Definitely ask people, you know, what do you think I’m great at?

[00:13:40] What have you always, where have you seen me shine? Yeah, 

[00:13:44] Nicole: [00:13:44] yeah, yeah, 

[00:13:46] Jennifer B: [00:13:46] absolutely. This is the time I would say the, um, You may need to reach way back into things you used to do, right. Especially if you find yourself out on your own, having to make your living as an independent, which all of us [00:14:00] are really comfortable with.

[00:14:00] But like you just said, Nicole we’ve reinvented a million times. That’s for sure. Um, so just because you’re out on your own, doesn’t mean the reinvention stops of course, news best. However, I do think it’s. In, in these times where you’ve got to figure out, like, who’s going to pay me for what that I know how to do, you know, what are my assets like Dave, doing an inventory of absolutely.

[00:14:22] Who do I know? What do I know how to do? Who would be a customer? You know? And maybe you really, you come to market with something just really broad. I mean, I remember when I started my company, I said, um, I got advice to say yes to everything and then figure out how you’re going to do it later. Yeah. So, I mean, this time is about kind of dust, maybe dusting off some of those things that you never thought you’d return to.

[00:14:48] And who knows, you know, maybe you’ll be really grateful for some older skills that you thought you’d moved beyond, but maybe they’re going to serve you really well right now, you know, maybe. 

[00:14:57] Nicole: [00:14:57] Yeah. So I 

[00:14:58] Jennifer B: [00:14:58] would say, I mean, that was something I [00:15:00] thought about when I was like a month, I think like five weeks ago, we were all in kind of a different place of total panic.

[00:15:06] Like I’m going to lose everything I’ve built, like ever. 

[00:15:09] Nicole: [00:15:09] Yeah. 

[00:15:09] Jennifer B: [00:15:09] And I was thinking way back for me, like 15 years ago to when I used to teach and train in the classroom and teach like business writing skills. 

[00:15:17] Nicole: [00:15:17] And I was like, 

[00:15:18] Jennifer B: [00:15:18] I can’t do that again. Like, 

[00:15:20] Nicole: [00:15:20] yeah, 

[00:15:20] Jennifer B: [00:15:20] there’s always a need for teachers. Absolutely at the end of the day, I’m a teacher.

[00:15:25] So what could I teach? Could I teach, like you were just talking about, could I teach, um, technical skills who, you know, need to come up to speed? Like you were talking about it too, to make sure that they continue to be relevant. Like, so just think about like who you are at your core. And then I think what you said was really important, which is, is this the time to actually chase your dreams?

[00:15:44] It may feel really. Counterintuitive to do the risky thing right now. But I think there’s so many people who are sort of resting unhappily in place in jobs. Like so many people are unhappy. You’re not doing what you love. Maybe it is time. [00:16:00] I know to kind of like take that opportunity now. And instead of looking at is, Oh my God, I lost my job too.

[00:16:05] Yeah. This is an opportunity to reset and really go after what brings me alive. I mean, I think that’s things slow down. You really, you really kind of understand. It’s kind of, they say when the tide goes out, you can see all this stuff. 

[00:16:17] Jenn: [00:16:17] The stuff on the bottom. 

[00:16:18] Nicole: [00:16:18] Yeah. It’s true that 

[00:16:20] Jennifer B: [00:16:20] what’s under there. 

[00:16:22] Nicole: [00:16:22] Once you get over the initial shock, like we talked about, right.

[00:16:24] And that’s true with, like, if you got laid off too, you got to give yourself some time. Right. It’s not like, I think is a culture. We tend to be very solution focused. Right. Well, and, and even when you talk to people, they’re like, well, you should do this. Right. And it’s like, well, No, give yourself some time because you have to play out some of the possibilities and you have to experiment with it.

[00:16:41] What I liked about what you said, you know, thinking about what you did way back. Um, I know my book, I talked about this, but doing a skills inventory, right? We’re not taught to think about our jobs through the lens of skills. We’re taught to think about it through the lens of job titles. Right. But.

[00:16:54] Skittles. What did you actually work on? Did you build, did you create, did you teach, did you know, um, [00:17:00] did you support, did you organize? What, what did you do? Right. And not, not don’t write it like a resume, write like a normal person would, you know, and then start to see some of those themes. You don’t lose your skills over time, you know?

[00:17:13] And that’s, you know, one of the things that people need to learn to do is to be able to bring back what was in their past and say, Hey, look like this is relatable to this right over here, you know? Um, I think it’s a really good opportunity right now to be able to carve out that time and do that, and then start thinking about, okay, well then what do I need to learn?

[00:17:32] Because this is a really good time to implement some learning into your, if you’re special, if you’re laid off some free time, you know, I’m not talking about going back to school necessarily, I’m talking about, you know, you spend 30 minutes a day listening to a podcast from your industry. Can you watch a YouTube video that teaches you a new piece of software?

[00:17:47] Right. Like either micro learning experiences that help make you a more agile worker 

[00:17:51] Jennifer B: [00:17:51] and they give you ideas, 

[00:17:54] Nicole: [00:17:54] right. They expose you because we’re not exposed to all the different possibilities out 

[00:17:58] Jennifer B: [00:17:58] there. 

[00:18:00] [00:18:00] Jenn: [00:18:00] And I think what’s also beautiful about this is 

[00:18:02] Jennifer B: [00:18:02] that right now. Right? So we’re all 

[00:18:04] Jenn: [00:18:04] business owners here.

[00:18:07] And the people watching are also those who are employing others, whether it’s contract positions, WCA, whatever it happens to be, I feel like now is a great time to, if there is some industry that you’re really interested in being in is reaching out to these small businesses that are. In some state of frantic chaos, right.

[00:18:25] And saying like, Hey, at the end of this, I’m angling to get a position in the publishing industry, in DNI, in careers, like whatever it happens to be, and to say like, would you be open to mentoring me? For five hours a week, I’ll give you five hours of my time in, you know, like in this kind of mentorship type of capacity.

[00:18:45] Cause I would be like, sign me up. Someone wants to do work for free. And I just have to like mentor them and kind of like encourage them because then maybe that does actually turn into a legitimate job at the end of this COVID chaos, which who knows [00:19:00] when to look like or when it will. But I feel like there’s some kind of like, Cause to me, I guess if I were in a place where I’ve lost my job and I have, I, I’m not in that being a freelancer mentality yet, I would be seeing like, how can I fill my time in a meaningful way and be, you know, helping and supporting a cause or a company or somebody that I, that I enjoy.

[00:19:20] Like, I feel like there’s such a. Such a power to just taking that approach to it. That’s what I would do 

[00:19:25] Jennifer B: [00:19:25] from this position. 

[00:19:26] Nicole: [00:19:26] Yeah. And I think, you know, one of the things that, that the foundation of what you just said too, was that ability to reach out and have conversations with people. Because I think when we are, we’ve been laid off or maybe we’re unhappy, we’ve been taught to develop, just apply to jobs, just apply to jobs, right.

[00:19:40] We just apply to jobs and that’s a very lonely experience and it’s not a growth experiment experience either. When you engage in these conversations with business owners or other people in the industry, you start to learn. And you start to grow, right. And it may not be evidence evident from the first conversation.

[00:19:54] Right. But maybe after the first, the second, the fifth, the 10th, you start to see patterns emerge or you start to [00:20:00] see recommendations or opportunities. Um, this is something, uh, my podcast is actually built on this idea. There’s an exercise in the book called 50 conversations. And it’s part of the exploration of trying to figure out what you’re going to do.

[00:20:11] And a lot of people are like, no, no, no, no. It’s like, well, okay, let’s start taking some steps. Right? You’ve got to get away from the computer. There’s only so much you can do with researching on a computer. You’ve got to talk to people. And so. You know, whether you’re talking to small business owners to help out for mentorship, whether you’re having a conversation about what’s it like in your job, what do you actually do as a publisher?

[00:20:29] Right. Because a lot of times we see things online and we’re like, I don’t really know what that is, you know? And you’ve got to get to talk to people and get used to asking people beyond what do you do, but what’s that like, how did you get into that? How did you know that was something you wanted to do?

[00:20:43] Very powerful questions and what this does, is it really. You know, not only does it help you learn and engage with people, obviously you’re building a network, right. But you’re also building a skill you’re building interpersonal communication skills. Your ability to tell one on one and have a conversation is [00:21:00] so prized right now in the workplace.

[00:21:02] Jennifer B: [00:21:02] Very very true. I want to tell Nicole, like, go where the people are that you want to investigate. So now is the time where there so many webinars going on that are trade related. So industry related to your point, like, what do you want to investigate? And really specifically, who is doing the work that you might want to do yourself someday and put yourself co locate yourself around the people.

[00:21:27] Whose jobs you think you might want to have something like that? Right. So when I was building my career before I was known in the DNI field, I got myself on planes and went and volunteered at all these conferences and said like, let me moderate a panel or let me help put an event together. Like, let me help do the admin work.

[00:21:47] Because, you know, people are always stretched for resources, right? So if you have a really great way to kind of enter a new field that you don’t have any sort of status in is to say, like, how can I be helpful? And then you get to know players, you know, [00:22:00] you get to, I always tell the story. Like I was moderating a panel for free at an event.

[00:22:04] Nobody was, I paid for my own registration to be there. And the two people on my panel, I’d never met. And they ended up being my two biggest clients over so many years of having my company, those 

[00:22:15] Jenn: [00:22:15] same panel 

[00:22:17] Jennifer B: [00:22:17] still to this day, they have taken me with every subsequent job in new company. They’ve moved to, they’d taken me 

[00:22:24] Nicole: [00:22:24] literally 

[00:22:25] Jennifer B: [00:22:25] from one moment.

[00:22:27] I can track ROI from that into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here. So 

[00:22:33] Nicole: [00:22:33] these are the stories that you hear from do this. I think that’s, what’s so exciting is that, you know, you guys know this because you do it right. These stories. And then other people tell you about, you’ll never believe who I met or what happened because I talked to this person or helped out here.

[00:22:47] And I think that’s what gets me so excited about now, like the COVID aside, but we’ve got so many online opportunities and learning communities, learning communities to join, to participate in. I see, you know, [00:23:00] start signing up for industry newsletters. That’s low hanging fruit right there. And you’re gonna start seeing we’re having a webinar about this.

[00:23:06] Do we, can we get someone to volunteer for this, you know, business owners? They’re looking, you know, some of these people are looking for speakers and so, you know, get, get experience presenting virtually. Right. And so I think there’s all these opportunities out there and it’s training yourself to look for these opportunities and saying yes to these conversations.

[00:23:25] For sure. 

[00:23:26] Jenn: [00:23:26] And I think what’s also great is that it helps you with the language, right? It helps you. Like, if you’re trying to enter a space that you have not been 

[00:23:32] Jennifer B: [00:23:32] in previously 

[00:23:34] Jenn: [00:23:34] have that first conversation of the 50 that you recommend going into that second conversation, you now have a little more knowledge than you did in the first.

[00:23:41] Then when you went to the fifth one, the 10th one, the 50th one. Now you are speaking the vernacular of that particular industry, which is going to completely. Increase your chances of getting wherever versus someone who’s like, Oh, I have a dream of being in wherever. The first person who’s had those 50 conversations.

[00:23:58] I feel like it’s a night and day [00:24:00] competitive advantage just by, just by conversing with people. How great does that 

[00:24:04] Nicole: [00:24:04] build your confidence? Too. Right. Going back to what you said about you now have some of that language and some of that insight, and then maybe your first conversation or first five, we’re going to be kind of awkward.

[00:24:13] They always are, but that’s okay. We embrace awkward. This is part of growth and learning. It’s awkward, but then you get to conversations five to 10 and you’re like, Oh, this feels a little bit better. I understand the flow of it. And by the time you got to 50, you’re like, I got this, I can do, these 

[00:24:26] Jenn: [00:24:26] are my people.

[00:24:29] Nicole: [00:24:29] And I know there’s where the power is right there. And that it takes, you know, kind of that intent. But again, you can do that and that that’s progress, right. That’s progress. And right now I think a lot of us who are, if we’re stuck or we’re feeling, you know, unsure or not confident about moving forward, because it is ambiguous and it makes sense that you might feel that way.

[00:24:47] That’s something you could do. Right. That’s something you could do to get insights and actually feel like you’re doing something. And I’ll tell you what, it’s a lot less lonely than just submitting applications online. You’re going to have to submit applications online anyway, but give yourself some joy, [00:25:00] right?

[00:25:00] I connect with some people that interest you and who motivate you and you can, and you might learn from 

[00:25:06] Jenn: [00:25:06] now might be the time, right? That people are more receptive to those conversations. 

[00:25:10] Nicole: [00:25:10] Like I know I get, 

[00:25:11] Jenn: [00:25:11] I get inquiries on a pretty consistent basis of people just wanting to pick my brain. And if it’s somebody who is like a.

[00:25:18] Like a colleague or another business owner, I might be like, No, like we can, you know, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll do it a different way, but if it’s someone who’s young or someone who’s recently graduated college and they’re looking for a career in publishing, I will always say yes to those conversations, because I want to give back to young people because I know how important it is just from kind of that general standpoint.

[00:25:38] And I feel like now, If you’re maybe a young person and like crap, like I’m graduating college or whatever it happens to be, didn’t even get my ceremony. Like things, things are kind of a nightmare and a mess. Like I feel like more companies of all 

[00:25:53] Nicole: [00:25:53] sizes are probably 

[00:25:54] Jenn: [00:25:54] more likely to say yes to that conversation now because they also feel that sense of [00:26:00] uncertainty.

[00:26:00] Like I think some people pre-programmed like myself to have those conversations regardless of what our climate 

[00:26:05] Nicole: [00:26:05] is right 

[00:26:06] Jenn: [00:26:06] now. I think more people are like, Yeah, I will. I will take that phone call and have that conversation with someone because I need to feel a sense of 

[00:26:12] Nicole: [00:26:12] purpose right now. Right?

[00:26:14] Absolutely. I think, you know, doing it right now, as long as you’re comfortable with the fact that things might be a little weird at times. You know, I know some of my calls that I’ve had recently where like, how’s it going? It’s a little weird, right? You’re weird. I’m weird. Let’s do this. I appreciate the authenticity right now.

[00:26:29] We are living in odd times. You may see, you know, a kid flying by in the background or something like that. Like. We are in weird times, but you can still build relationships during these times, you know, and you can still make progress on the things that are important to you specifically within your career.

[00:26:42] You know, once you get kind of that foundation of what you want, where you want to go and things like that, I think it’s really important to 

[00:26:47] have 

[00:26:48] Jennifer B: [00:26:48] that, um, 

[00:26:49] Nicole: [00:26:49] before you start kind of going out in these conversations, 

[00:26:52] Jennifer B: [00:26:52] right? Yep. Bring it back to what you’re saying about skills, right. And automation. You know what I, one of the questions I would be [00:27:00] investigating, if you can get on people’s calendars and worm your way into different groups of people, right.

[00:27:05] To learn about what a new field might look like, or a parallel adjacent field to yours, one of the questions might be, you know, what are the. How has automation affecting your field? 

[00:27:16] Nicole: [00:27:16] Oh yeah. 

[00:27:17] Jennifer B: [00:27:17] What can you tell me about the certifications that you’re getting? Um, what are some emerging, um, software that you’re all using in your field to, you know, sort of, um, augment.

[00:27:28] What do you do and how has that changed? And so just to kind of, um, become aware, I get a lot of questions about DNI certifications, right? And so I can, Oh my gosh. So many people really. I mean, that’s like the one thing I get over and over, I think, cause people are thinking about this moment as a good time to be there.

[00:27:46] Sort of official skillset, meaning getting some kind of designation, and this is a great time to do that. But, but what if you don’t know what the designations are, what if you don’t know designations even exist? Right, right. So [00:28:00] investigate. 

[00:28:01] Nicole: [00:28:01] Definitely. I, you know, we are swimming in, uh, learning opportunities and that’s in part why I wrote the book because the first half is kind of about.

[00:28:07] The future of work and what’s happening to our jobs and how to think about it. But the second is really walking you through. Should I get a certification? Should I get, should I take an online course? Should I do a boot camp? Should I go back to school? Like, what is the right fit for me? Or should I just watch a bunch of YouTube videos?

[00:28:22] Because you can building on what you just said. You could go get that information. And so you learn about a certain software and then you go on to YouTube and you’re like, Oh, that’s what this software is. Well, now I kind of understand it and then maybe you find it online course that teaches you how to use it.

[00:28:36] Right? Like see all these pieces start to fit together. You could do it that way, but that requires a lot of self directed learning. Right? You have to be a private person. It’s like, I know what I want. I know how to learn. For others, it might be like, you know what? I need a class. I need a class that every day is going to set me on the right path and tell me what I need to do.

[00:28:52] And that’s what I’m going to get my certification. Right. So we 

[00:28:55] Jenn: [00:28:55] need that first class to then bring you to, okay. Now, now I’ll independently go through YouTube videos. [00:29:00] Like you can literally learn anything on YouTube. 

[00:29:02] Nicole: [00:29:02] I 

[00:29:03] Jenn: [00:29:03] learned how to rebuild a carburetor of a motorcycle and lay down hardwood floor through YouTube.

[00:29:09] Nicole: [00:29:09] That’s the beauty of it, right. We don’t necessarily have to go. All the way back to school to learn new skills, to find that. But 

[00:29:16] Jenn: [00:29:16] it’s amazing. It’s really, there’s a, there’s a YouTube video for anything and everything you could possibly ever imagine, no matter

[00:29:26] Nicole: [00:29:26] what. And I think we can’t discredit it because, you know, millions of people are learning from YouTube. And I think in the workplace specifically, you know, it used to be, the gatekeepers were just HR. You would go to a training through them right now. It’s like, Oh, you need to learn a new software. Get up.

[00:29:40] Beat on some terminology, boom, go watch, you know, go watch the company’s YouTube channel or go watch what’s happening in your industry. And I use it all the time. You know, prior to this, I was at work. I used to, I, the job that I had previously, I was working in artificial intelligence for an AI startup.

[00:29:55] I’m not a machine learning engineer. Okay. I don’t have a tech background, but I was working on [00:30:00] the AI team and that’s in part because I spent the better part of like six months studying AI, studying the language, studying tools, and trying to understand the technology behind it. Yeah, I know. And that’s going back to our original con you know, started this conversation about automation and being curious about these tools.

[00:30:17] That’s where you start with curiosity. You start just going, well, what, here’s a YouTube video click, right? Like we’re talking to someone in the industry and saying, so is artificial intelligence and automation affecting your job and how, like you said, Jen, 

[00:30:29] Jennifer B: [00:30:29] yeah, 

[00:30:32] Nicole: [00:30:32] go ahead. 

[00:30:33] Jennifer B: [00:30:33] Can I just add one thing, Jen? Um, Remember too though, that classes with other students in them, especially at the adult level are full of networking opportunities.

[00:30:43] So when I relaunched item pivot from being an opera singer, To a trainer. 

[00:30:48] Nicole: [00:30:48] And I know, I know. 

[00:30:53] Jennifer B: [00:30:53] And I ended up in a master’s program for HR education, which launched me into what I do now, but I, I will never [00:31:00] forget that I had no job experience, but I had a lot of passion for this new field. So I knew that it would be, I would hope that it would be my field, but the first job opportunities I had to fill out that resume and literally get paid, came from students in that class, came from people who saw my passion, who saw how I showed up, um, that I did my work that I, you know, 

[00:31:22] Jenn: [00:31:22] was thoughtful 

[00:31:24] Jennifer B: [00:31:24] and diligent.

[00:31:25] And, you know, confident as a presenter that yeah. Whatever things you notice about people that kind of make you feel like, Oh, I think that person would be great in our organization. Or maybe I want to take a chance on that person because I’ve seen how they show up. So, so much, this is not just what, you know, honestly, professionalism is like half of the battle, right?

[00:31:44] It’s being helpful. It’s being generous. It’s networking. It’s offering to give before you ask. So all we need, like I remember when I needed experienced desperately in my new field, because it’s like chicken or the egg. Right. 

[00:31:59] Nicole: [00:31:59] I 

[00:32:00] [00:32:00] Jennifer B: [00:32:00] said, what do you need to help on in your company to my fellow students? What do you need help on that?

[00:32:05] I could build. I like that I could get my feet wet and they said, Oh, well, we have this like admin training that we need to build. And, you know, maybe that’s something you could work on. And I was so excited that I remember, and it was like procedural training. Right. It was sort of like a handbook of how to.

[00:32:22] You know, the admin tool kit at this particular company. But I just remember that was so I was so grateful for that because it got me launched and then one thing led to another. So just remember too, that like we’re making the point about don’t sit there and just inundate your resume and kind of do the.

[00:32:37] Introverts are going to love to do what we’ve been talking about. Right? Sit on YouTube, learn the thing. 

[00:32:42] Nicole: [00:32:42] Yeah. 

[00:32:42] Jennifer B: [00:32:42] Remember though that, um, it’s people that are going to do your job. It’s people that can see you in your element that, um, you can win over, uh, hopefully. And that may even in the face of you not having a lot of qualifications.

[00:32:56] May take a chance on you anyway, because of these other intangibles [00:33:00] that they pick up about you. So when you, 

[00:33:02] Nicole: [00:33:02] your introvert comment though, because, so I teach networking skills, right? Reframe networking from that old school. Hey, here’s my card. Here’s my card. I’m going to focusing on conversational skills.

[00:33:13] And the thing that I tell people is like, look, I am an extreme extrovert. I am on the extroverted extroverted side. Okay. I’m arguing with my corn team because I need more people. But the thing is networking is not about introvert versus extrovert because it’s about conversational skills. And I’ll tell you what, you know, where the introverts succeed.

[00:33:29] Conversational skills because it’s that one to one that ability, the active listening skills alone, the introverts bring to the table that extroverts have a really hard time with, right. I had to learn to be an active listener when I was a coach, they were like, Hey, what is that? I can talk to people.

[00:33:48] Different skills, but you know, when it comes to networking and what we’re really talking about here is conversations, right? Conversations. One-on-one when people and they actually, this is a great time. You don’t have to go to an event. You can straight up [00:34:00] email someone say, Hey, I’d love to have a conversation with you about your work.

[00:34:03] I’m really thinking about this field 15 minutes of your time. And if they say, yes, it’s just you guys. And that’s where you get to really lean on those skills of being able to take in what the person is saying and ask 

[00:34:13] Jennifer B: [00:34:13] really quality, curious questions. 

[00:34:15] Nicole: [00:34:15] And so for the introverts. You may want to learn on, on YouTube, but you’ve got that skill to be able to do these one-on-ones.

[00:34:20] And so I would definitely push you towards it and use your 

[00:34:24] Jenn: [00:34:24] chime in one thing on your, in your curiosity and questions. Cause that’s going to say before, and you’ve just teed it up beautifully. Is that I think those who ask. The most curious questions are the ones that rise to the heap of anything. So if you think of yourself as an employer, like I was interviewing for project manager in the fall and I had 117 applicants and it was a nightmare to comb through everybody in link round after round after round.

[00:34:49] But it was the people who asked the most interesting questions about the industry, about my job, about like just all of the things. And, you know, that’s like a complete introvert type of, you know, like that’s where [00:35:00] introvert, I think can shine. Right. Ask the really interesting, curious question that no one else has thought of.

[00:35:06] Who are you as an employer? Thinking of later, you’re like, Oh, she asked that question about where’s the industry going in this automation, and now it’s turning. It’s like, then that person’s going to rise to the heap. So it’s like something so simple as that. Learning how to ask good questions and being curious and like owning it, like 

[00:35:23] Nicole: [00:35:23] awesome.

[00:35:24] Is that just makes my heart sing. Just having those conversation because that’s, that’s, that’s what it is. Right. And a lot of you don’t get taught that, right? A lot of the training is like, well, you gotta, you know, you gotta get your experience and you gotta get in there. And like, when it comes down to this, this is.

[00:35:38] Interpersonal communication skills, that relationship building, you know, the research part, the formulating good questions, and really listening to the people that you’re in front of. 

[00:35:46] Jennifer B: [00:35:46] Right. 

[00:35:48] Nicole: [00:35:48] That is a skill that’s going to give and give and give across every single job is going to kill it. You’re going to kill it in the interview, right.

[00:35:55] That really helps you shine too. So 

[00:35:58] Jennifer B: [00:35:58] make sure you follow up on [00:36:00] with a summary email of all the things. If you’re in the mentee position. Make sure your followup is stellar. You know, show that you were paying attention show that you were like, literally saying, I committed to this, this and this. I thought I, we mentioned this article here is the link.

[00:36:15] You know what I really love is people who are diligent about that stuff. Cause I make tons of tea now more than ever. I’m making lots of time for mentoring. And I’m saying yes to everything to Jen, as you said, because why not? Like I always actually wanted to do that, but I don’t have time and I’d have to be like disciplined about being helpful.

[00:36:33] Because I’m inundated otherwise, but now I’m so thrilled to be able to just dig in with people wherever they’re at to say, like, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that when they’re saying what’s it like being a DNI consultant? Like what’s your day to day life? Like what does a typical day, what 

[00:36:48] Jenn: [00:36:48] talking about themselves?

[00:36:53] Jennifer B: [00:36:53] Anyway. Oh, I gotta say, I think 

[00:36:54] Nicole: [00:36:54] we’re out of time. Nicole. 

[00:36:57] Jennifer B: [00:36:57] Amazing 

[00:36:58] Nicole: [00:36:58] super woman. You guys. Thank [00:37:00] you. 

[00:37:00] Jenn: [00:37:00] Awesome, Nicole, of course I am biased, impartial because you know, you and I worked together to get your book done. Can you? It’s amazing. It’s awesome. I love the choose your own adventure approach. It that’s honestly what I lead with everybody.

[00:37:13] I’m about your book, but can you tell people how to get in touch with you and you know, what the name of like the full title of your book is? 

[00:37:18] Nicole: [00:37:18] Sure. So the book’s called punch doubt in the face. How to upskill change careers and beat the robots. You can find me at the website below, but if you want an easy one to remember, you can find

[00:37:32] And then I run a podcast called 50 conversations. We’re talking about layoffs and a lot of that stuff we talked about today, and then you can find as well and 50 conversations on Instagram. That’s how you find me. 

[00:37:44] Jenn: [00:37:44] Beautiful. Love it. Good 

[00:37:46] Jennifer B: [00:37:46] work. 

[00:37:47] Jenn: [00:37:47] Yeah. Thank you so much for taking the time today.

[00:37:49] This has been like so awesome and upbeat. Despite the, the topic you 

[00:37:54] Nicole: [00:37:54] guys are great conversationalists. So thank you so much for having me on 

[00:37:58] Jenn: [00:37:58] that. [00:38:00]