The Power of Intention in Developing Your Career

family airplaneOne evening, I was pondering my next career move and thought it would be cool to take the kids on a trip to Europe the next year.  The idea grew on me and before I knew it, I entertained a string of “What If” possibilities for my career and my family.

What if we actually move to Europe for a couple of years? What if I take an international assignment in Europe?  Wouldn’t that be really nice?  The more I thought about it, the more attractive the idea became. I started thinking of what is possible: new experiences , new learning, meet new people and all the tangible and intangible benefits that my family and career could have.

That night, I did not sleep at all. I planned, strategized and got really excited about the possibilities.  This desire and intention continued to grow day by day, a seed was planted and it started to grow.  I shared the idea with my husband – he thought I was crazy.  I shared it with my trusted colleagues and a few months later, I was offered the job to lead human resources International – responsible for the regions outside the United States.

I cannot forget my boss’ words to me – you can live anywhere, as long as it is outside New Jersey (our headquarters). I narrowed our choices to London, Singapore and Brussels and eventually chose Brussels.  It is where our company’s European headquarters was located, a central location between Asia and the US and a more convenient time zone to connect globally.

My husband saw the possibilities and with his support, we were on a plane to Belgium a few months later.

The entire preparation and move was of course, complex and difficult, and we focused to get it done. I do not know if it was desire, focus, intention, God’s will, family support or a combination of all that made it happen.  The intent was strong enough to handle any hurdle or obstacle that came our way. If you find yourself wanting something more from your career, here are a few things to think about:

1. Think and Dream It – What is it that you really want?.  Visualize it and see the picture in your mind.  Stay with the dream.  If it is strong and coming from your heart, continue to think about what is possible.  Eventually your heart and mind will align and focus on the dream.

2. Speak It – Share it with your loved ones, your supportive colleagues, your mentors.  Speak your career aspirations to others, no matter how outrageous it may sound.  Ask for advice and listen.  Filter your listening to what is possible.

3. Work It – Take the first step to get closer to the goal. Ask around, pursue some leads. Take some phone calls.  Work on the details.  Work hard at it and do not give up.

Moving our family to Europe and back was not easy.  It was exhausting, the experience tested our resilience while we attended to the many details of the move, selling our home, moving our stuff to storage, giving away some items, settling down and going though the repatriation process after two years.  It was well worth it. It was one of the most enriching experiences for our family and my career on all fronts.

If you have the desire for a career shift, listen to that inner voice and work with a coach to make your career goals happen.


6 Personality Traits You Must Have for a Global Assignment

global assignmentMy clients often ask me – What does it take to be successful globally?.  Aside from the many details of a relocation, learning a new role, a new language or new culture, there are some internal reflections you need to do if you are thinking of taking a global assignment.  What are the key traits that will make you successful in a career move outside your home country?

1. Curiosity – are you interested in what is going on in another part of the world, or even in another part of the country or the other side of town?  Do you have an inner desire to learn how new environments work, how people live and work?  Do you care to know?  Are you wiling to try  new experiences, taste new food, see new places?.

2. Determination.  You must really want it. Moving globally for a career entails a lot of sacrifice.  You will be pushed into new situations that seem strange or difficult for you.  If you are determined to have this experience, you will view problems as situations that have solutions and will not get easily frustrated.

3. Courage.  This is the heart of global citizenship.  Are you willing to take risks and are not afraid to make some mistakes?

4. Respect.  This means unconditional respect for others, their culture, their norms, their way of life.  Do you respect others who are very different from you even if they have not earned your respect?  Are you willing to suspend judgment and criticism?

5. Ease of meeting new people and making new friends.  Is it easy for you to approach strangers even if they do not speak your language? Can you comfortably meet new people and foster a positive friendly attitude? An international assignment can be very lonely, you will miss your close friends and family.  Meeting new people, joining groups or activities that you enjoy will make the assignment more enjoyable.

6. Can you have fun even if you sometimes feel embarrassed or frustrated? You will not always be understood by others, sometimes you will feel dumb.  Are you willing to laugh about it and enjoy the experience, good or bad?.

We are comfortable within our own culture, our own ways and therefore think this is normal and good.  Something new, or strange may be uncomfortable or awkward to us, it doesn’t mean that it is wrong.

Before you raise your hand for that special project that would take you to far and exotic places, think again and be very honest with yourself.  Do you have what it takes to handle a global assignment?  Ask your coach to help you assess your skills and work with your coach to prepare you for your global assignment.



Define Your Non-negotiables, Align Your Priorities Part 2

woman working w familyA couple of months ago, I blogged about the importance of defining your priorities and aligning them with your non-negotiables to achieve work life success.  At that time, I was building my own business and set my priorities as: God, Self, Business, Husband, Children in this order.

These priorities helped me focus on my business launch and I’m very pleased with my results.  Since I placed myself as Second, I was able to schedule daily hot yoga on my calendar and attended this religiously about 5 times a week on average.  Not bad, am very happy with the results.  I learned more about eating heathy, tried to get in more sleep, scheduled girlfriend time and vacation time . I was able to maintain my weight loss and generally feel very good and healthy.

I told my husband that he was in fourth place and he didn’t seem to mind. He likes to do his own thing, so we went about living our lives doing our own thing.  Our children are all young adults with full lives living in the East Coast.  We talked weekly over skype or text almost daily, so I feel I am very involved in their lives despite the distance.

While I am very pleased with the results of my priorities, life evolves and happens.  Our eldest daughter got a job here in Silicon Valley and together with her husband, moved in with us.  We are proud expectant grandparents for our very first grandchild in December.  I also sensed that my husband and I no longer spend good quality time together.

I realize it is time to realign my priorities with my non-negotiables!.  So I am flipping Business and Husband.  I think I”ll learn how to play golf.  I’m still keeping God and Self in the same position and I have a strong suspicion that come December, Grandchild will take over the top slot.

Aligning your priorities and your non-negotiables with what you want to have in your life is such a liberating thing to do.  It’s amazing to see how the results become exactly what you ask for.  The good news is we can shift them, observe and see if these priorities enable us to live our ideal lives.

What are your priorities? Are you satisfied with how these results are showing up in your life? Feel free to reorder and change them as your situation changes.

Are you a Corporate Refugee? Part 2. 6 Ways to Cope with Your Corporate Transition

work, stress, familyThe other day I blogged about the signs of a corporate refugee.  A corporate refugee is someone who recently left the security and comfort of a corporate job and feels burned out.  While they know it is too early to sit in a rocking chair and do nothing, they also cannot gather enough energy to pursue or accept another corporate job.  What do you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  1. Be honest about how you really feel.  Do not blame yourself for feeling this way.  If being a corporate refugee sounds about right to you, be ok with it, acknowledge it.
  2. Take some time off.  It is automatic for us to start the job hunting process immediately.  If you can, try to do nothing for a few days, or weeks.  Try to control yourself  from jumping back.  Your mind and body needs space and healing.  It takes time – months, sometimes years, to distance ourselves from our corporate identity.
  3. Surround yourself with supportive and positive people.  These are people who you can share how you feel and who will not judge you.  See a career coach or begin a support group in your local community
  4. Cultivate new interests – something totally new or different from your regular activities.  Gardening, reading, art work, travel, or cooking.  New activities will not only keep you busy, but will also ignite your passion.  Experiment on activities that make you happy.
  5. Recognize that you are in transition and this is a process that you need to go through.  Read Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges or Life Launch – A Passionate Guide to the Rest of Your Life by Pamela McLean and Fredric Hudson.
  6. Hire a coach.  I had a coach when I transitioned from my corporate life to my entrepreneurial life. My coach was my supportive partner.  He helped me figure out not only what I could be doing next, but also who I am again.  I looked forward to our conversations and even if the coaching process lasted only for 6 months, we continue to be in touch and work on certain projects together.  His perspective is invaluable.

Once you acknowledge that you are a corporate refugee, the magic begins.  Don’t feel that you need to go through this alone.  There are many resources out there that will help you transition.

Feel free to share what transition strategies worked for you.

Are You A Corporate Refugee? What are the signs?

work, stress, familyA corporate refugee is someone who just left their job and feels blah, sad or angry. He or she knows they need to get back to the workforce but something inside them says they need a break. They need to process their whole company experience in many deeper levels but do not know how. This is a new experience for them. They also feel guilty about their decision to leave or for not being aggressive enough to find a new job. In some ways, they feel like a victim. They only remember the sad and unhappy times at work and seem  to have blocked the good times. If this resonates with you, you are not alone. I’ve experienced being a corporate refugee and many of my colleagues have similar transition experiences as well. Here are some of their experiences:

  1. Corporate refugees are no longer happy or interested in their jobs or their company but are afraid to admit this.
  2. Corporate refugees have the need to revitalize themselves and a week’s vacation doesn’t do it.
  3. Corporate refugees are burned out, confused and guilty.
  4. Corporate refugees have lost their soul or no longer know who they really are.
  5. Corporate refugees need space and healing.

Here’s the good news:

  1. Corporate refugees can go back to the battle field once again and find fulfilling work.
  2. Corporate refugees eventually learn to forgive others and themselves.
  3. Corporate refugees do not ignore transitions, they master transitions.  They do not merely jump to the next job, they allow themselves time to process their experience, own it and design a new life commitment.
  4. Corporate refugees bounce back stronger and smarter.
  5. Corporate refugees eventually find their passion and use their natural talents to fulfill their life purpose.

Do not be concerned if you find yourself in the early phases of being a corporate refugee. Don’t ignore the signs.  You need to go through the process to find the path forward, there are no short cuts.  I’ve witnessed many wonderful reinventions and transformations. I’ve also experienced the transformation myself.  It was not easy, but I was fortunate to have a supportive family, friends and coaches. The transition process enabled me to achieve better work life success.

Are you a corporate refugee?  How can you move yourself through the process?  What worked for you?

What do they have that I don’t? 4 Additional Tips for the Job Searcher

happy guyHow come it seems so easy for some people to get a job offer and others have a difficult time?  What do successful job seekers have?

Three months ago a brand new client came to me for coaching.  He was not sure if he wanted to continue his consulting business which he had for the past 5 years or if he should go back to the corporate world.  After a few sessions, it was clear to him that the next step would be to go back to a corporate job.  I challenged him with a goal and a deadline and we agreed that his goal was to have three fantastic offers in 90 days.

Four days shy of his 90th day, despite the competitiveness of our job market, he received two fantastic written job offers from 2 successful companies.  The offers were both great but different in industry, scope and responsibility.  The financials were very close, which made it more difficult for him to decide which one to accept.  Either job would have been perfect.  We were both so happy about the outcome and as a coach, I couldn’t be prouder and more fulfilled than to see my client and his family very happy!

This led me to think, what does my client have that other’s don’t?  Aside from having a coach, what else did he have?  Sure, there are several books about the techniques of job searching, there are classes on resume writing, use of Linked In and networking skills available – all of these are important.  Are these enough?  What else is needed?

Anyone who has ever looked for a job knows that this is not always a pleasant experience.  It is not fun; it is stressful and can leave one feeling rejected and vulnerable.  While no one is immune to these emotions, the successful job searcher has a couple of traits that might prove helpful:

  1. Positive mindset.  Most people view the job search process as a burden, a failure of some kind.  View it as a positive challenge. My client was excited to start the search process, with the full support of his wife and a coach; the three of us operated as a team.  Ensure that all resentment or negative emotions about the job search process are processed before you begin your search.
  2. Share what is going on with your support team.  Do not feel that you need to go about this alone, don’t make it a secret. Share every bit of progress or disappointment with your support team or mentors; this is what they are there for.  They are there to encourage you, guide you and cheer you up.
  3. Focus on what you can control.  It is important to create a goal and timeline, no matter how outrageous this may sound.  Focus on this goal to keep the momentum going.  I once set a goal of 3 offers in 30 days and surprisingly, I met that goal!  Set aside daily focused time and organized space for leads; follow-up phone calls and networking.  View the search process as a job that needs daily consistent attention.
  4. Manage your emotions.  When you get discouraged, remember that all you need is one job.  The more openings you apply to, the more chances you get.

Job searching is a skill to be learned.  The mental, emotional and psychological aspect of the job search process is tough but manageable. Reach out and share your experience and encourage those who are in the process.  Your story could be an inspiration to others.  And once you get that fantastic job, do not forget those who are in need of one.  Continue the networking, not just for what you can get from your network but also for what you can give your network.

The Good News about Transitions

golden gate cloudyTransitioning to a new life is never easy.  Transitions are similar to crossing a bridge, sometimes the beautiful Golden Gate bridge gets cloudy and the drive can be difficult.  Sometimes the sky is clear and the drive is a breeze.

A prerequisite to a successful transition is a positive mind-set, a commitment to ourselves to emerge positively from this transition.  A sense of confidence that we will somehow end up ok – that we will get to the other side of the bridge in due time.

The good thing about transitions is –  it is not a permanent state.  We all go through phases of transition and while they make us uncomfortable and our initial reaction is to get out of it as quickly as possible, fight or reject it,  we are best served by recognizing transitions for what they are: uncomfortable yet necessary phases of fertile growth.

The next time you find yourself in transition, no matter how difficult it is, remember that it is not permanent and there are special insights and lessons awaiting you.  Take the time to seek deep and discover these messages.


4 Ways to Prepare for Your Career Conversation.

young employee meeting w managerMy client is ready to move to another role within the company after only a year in the job.  Although there continues to be a lot of valuable work sent her way, she feels that she is not learning anything new; she is not challenged.  She is concerned about bringing up the topic to her manager, someone she greatly respects. She wants to stay in the company, in her current location, but she is ready for something new.  Here is how we prepared for this conversation.

1. Do your homework before you meet with your manager.  Figure out your bigger picture, where do you see your career 5 to 10 years from now?  This is not an easy exercise; you may need to take a couple of weeks or even months to figure this out.  It does not need to be accurate and perfect, you can tweak and update your vision along the way.  The long-term career vision is critical to help you decide on new skills and experiences you will need. My client sees a few possibilities in her career: Country HR Manager, Vice President Human Resources of a business unit, Corporate Human Resources role in headquarters.

2. When you have this picture in mind, figure out the relevant skills and experiences that you need to acquire to get you there.  My client has developed strong analytical and financial skills over the past 10 years and has a master’s degree in Human Resources.  Due to her strengths, she continues to be tapped for similar planning and analysis roles. She would like be in other areas of HR: talent management, business partnering and organizational development to round-up her portfolio.  She will review specific roles with her manager and seek guidance on how to acquire these competencies for current and future roles.

3. Have a transition plan and timeline in mind.  She has a rough idea of how work will get done when she transitions into a new role; she also has a timeline.  While these are not definite, your proactiveness will relieve your manager’s initial concerns about backfilling your responsibilities.

4. Be confident and ask for what you need.  You will be surprised how helpful and supportive your manager can be once you share your career plans and request for specific assignments.

Your career journey is as important, fulfilling and fun as achieving your career goals.  While keeping the end state in mind, be flexible and welcome the occasional twists and turns that may come your way.  These are opportunities for you to consider and don’t be afraid to step into unknown open doors or knock on new interesting ones.

Through our coaching conversation, my client became more prepared and confident to speak to her manager.  I am so excited for her and can’t wait for our next coaching call.

7 Tips on How to Hire a Career or Business Coach

woman executiving talkingI’m inspired by a potential client who I met for coffee the other day.  She is planning her transition from corporate into something new and exciting, where she can live her passion and use her natural talents and creativity.  At the same time, she is scared and wisely seeking a partner coach for this important change in her life.

She asked some very thoughtful questions and I could sense that she is handling her career change purposefully.  She asked me about my own life and career and was very interested in the new opportunities that I’ve been able to create in my post corporate life.  She took notes and we shared books that we both found helpful.  I would be delighted to be chosen as her coach, am also just as delighted to have met her.  She is going about her transition in a very thoughtful way, very much how she lived her life – raised two boys as a single mother, built a successful career and completed graduate school later in life.  I am confident that her decision, whatever it will be, will turn out to be the very best for her.  I also know that no matter what, we will continue to stay in touch.

You may be deciding to hire a business or career coach but are unsure on where to start. Here are 7 tips on how to hire the very best coach for you.

1.Research on the coach’s background, experiences and credentials prior to your meeting.  Coaches have a diverse range of expertise and niches, find one who interests you.

2. Speak to people who were coached by your potential coach.  In addition to references, speak to mutual friends or acquaintances who know them well and learn more about them.

3. Request an information or complimentary session. Most coaches offer this to enable you to experience their coaching style.

4. Read their blogs, tweets and website.  Does their point of view interest or challenge you?  Is coaching a hobby or is this their profession? Working with a professionally trained coach makes a difference.

5. Determine if you and the coach can genuinely like each other.  Will you enjoy having the occasional lunch or coffee with them?  You don’t have to be best friends, but most coaching relationships are easy and enjoyable.  They can even turn into deep and lasting friendships.

6. Do you respect their point of view enough to trust them and have faith in what they are saying?

7. Is he or she capable of being honest and can hold you accountable even if the truth may sometimes hurt.  You do not want a coach who will just tell you what you like to hear.  You want a coach who would stretch you and make a difference.

Through the years, I’ve benefited greatly from my coaches’ presence and wisdom.  We continue to be in touch and our relationships turned into friendships or business partnerships.  Take your time in choosing the right coach for you.  Your coach will make a difference in the change you are experiencing and will also have a profound impact on your life.

Doubting The Career Path You’re On? 5 Immediate Things You Can Do.

worried career woman

I am working with a very smart & thoughtful client who has known for some time that her current role was no longer working for her. Initially, we worked on her adjustment to the new company and enhancing her skills.  As time moved on, she sensed that things are still not working for her.  She realized that it is what she is doing that no longer ignites her.  She sent me this note last Friday and below is my response:


Dear Liza,

Within the next 6 months I’d like to cut back to part-time where I am now so I have the flexibility to devote time to new pursuits.

What I’d like to talk to you about at our next meeting are:

  • To make sure I’m making this move for the right reasons (not just to get away from a specific situation that’s not satisfying)
  • What kinds of questions should I be asking myself?
  • What else would you suggest I think about when facing a major transition like this?

If you find yourself in a similar situation, there are 5 immediate things that you can do to forward your career discovery.  I sent this response to my client to think about prior to our meeting,

1. Make a list of what you like and do not like about your current career.  Note that I mentioned career, not job.  You can always find another job.  You want to discern if it is the company, the people, your job or it’s really your career path that no longer suits you.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing careers; people do it all the time.  You want to be thoughtful in what’s next for you.

2. Suggest you read: Finding Your North Star by Martha Beck or any book by her.  She has a lot of thoughtful insights, assessments and information for those who are not living their ideal path and plenty of suggestions to find it.  I love her style.  There are many books available on careers, find one that interests you.

3. Create a Vision Board.  Block 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time one weekend and gather all the magazines you can find at home.  You can also set up a Pinterest Account and label it “My Ideal Life”.  Choose pictures that appeal to you that you want in your life.  Don’t judge yourself, observe what comes up.

4. Complete a Career Assessment – If you are interested in a career assessment, I can direct you to one that I really like to use.  You pay the fee directly to the testing site.  They will send you a report that we can review together or you can speak directly to one of their consultants.

5. Meet Your Future Self.  Think of what you’d like to have in your life 10-20 years from now.  Imagine meeting your future self, what do you see?  What will she say when you ask her, how has the past 20 years been for you?   This usually helps guide you in your journey.

My client was very appreciative of these suggestions; she said it was exactly what she needed.  Do you have suggestions that worked for you?  Feel free to share or comment.

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Why Hire a coach?

Top Reasons Coaches are Engaged:

(HBR Jan 2009)

    • Develop high potentials or facilitate transition: 48%
    • Act as a sounding board: 26%
    • Address derailing behavior: 12%