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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 10

As a global facilitator, Eduardo has led workshops and spoken with groups at HBO, Google, Bank of America- Merrill Lynch, Yale, The Juilliard School, and the Wharton School of Business. Private clients include Industry Leaders, CEO’s of start up companies, UN Diplomats and social activists. Prior to focusing all his energy on Fearless Communicators, he was a professional actor for 15 years, working all over the US in over 38 plays and musicals.

When he is not “story doulaing” or spontaneously breaking out into song and dance, he is probably bringing together diverse communities in a celebration of what is positive and possible. This includes leading workshops at the Muslim Jewish Conference, global work on inclusive masculinity, LGBTQIA activism & advocacy and events around a passion project called THE BIG SING ALONG. Other projects include Carnegie Hall’s The Somewhere Project, The Daedalus Project at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Fearless Futures Campaigns for the SCHAP Community School in rural SE Kenya.
Eduardo

serves on the Board of THE OUT FOUNDATION and the Cuban American Alliance for Leadership and Education.

Fearless Communicators Website: http://www.fearlesscommunicators.com/

Connect with Eduardo on Instagram: @Eduardoplacer

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot a Podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives more purposefully and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Meghan Houle a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Meghan Houle Method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:31] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host, Meghan Houle and in this episode, we talked to Eduardo Placer, story doula and international speaking coach. 

FC Podcasts: [00:00:42] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host Meghan Houle, you can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com.

And if you’d like to share your own Pivot with Purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Your support amplifies our voice. And now this week’s episode.

Meghan Houle: [00:01:13] As a global facilitator Eduardo has led workshops and spoken with groups at HBO, Google, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Yale. Private clients include leaders, CEOs of startup companies, UN diplomats and social activists. Prior to focusing all his energy on his company, Fearless Communicators, he was a professional actor for 15 years, working all over the US in 38 plays and musicals.

Eduardo also serves on the board of the Out Foundation and the Cuban American Alliance for leadership and education. When he is not story doula-ing or spontaneously breaking out in song and dance, he is probably bringing together a diverse community in a celebration of what is possible in positive. Eduardo, it is a true pleasure to have you here with us today on the Pivot with Purpose podcast. Thank you so much for being here and with our listeners tuning in. How are you? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:02:10] Yasss. I’m doing great. Thank you for asking. I just kicked the desk, I was so excited, is what happened. I’m going to be mindful of the excitement, starting off with an injury! 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:25] Well also as a PSA to everyone as we settle into your eardrums. If anyone out there is thinking about having another cup of coffee, or getting ready to work out or in general, just looking for a little energy boost. The universe is not ready for the energy and enthusiasm Eduardo and my personalities are about to bring to your space.

Okay. So, buckle in everyone. Get ready to be inspired as Eduardo and I will be diving into some hot topics with a lot of passion behind them. So, are you ready to do this? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:02:53] I was born ready. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:54] Do we need a little song out of you to start or should we save it to the end? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:02:58] Another opening, another show in Philly, Boston, no ball to mow, a chance for stage folks to say hello, and now they’re opening up, another show.

How was that? 

Meghan Houle: [00:03:10] Perfect. 

Eduardo Placer: [00:03:11] Yeah, little showtune-itus. Yes, a little burst, a little burst of showtunes. Yeah. 

Meghan Houle: [00:03:16] So, to really take a page out of your book, which I will have to say, for you and I, and how we got connected through our time in the wonderful networking group Saturday’s with Ron Thurston,

I would love to start off with some highlights of Eduardo for our listeners and some of your passions. Beyond work, beyond your projects, what are you lovin in life? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:03:37] What am I loving in life? Let me breathe into that. So, I have my new apartment in the East Village. The pandemic has been absolutely dreadful. And one thing that I can claim as a win is that I have my own place now. My office is in what would be a second bedroom in a five floor walk-up in the East Village of New York and right by Tompkins Square Park.

And I love this neighborhood, it is thriving. It is alive. I just love the resilience of the small businesses around me. I love the resilience of the community. I love that the street is blocked off with signs that say “Trans Lives Matter” and “Black Lives Matter”. And I love that the beating pulse of the city that I love is alive.

And I love that I get to be a part of it. I’m really enjoying love. My heart is very open. I have a boyfriend and he’s currently going through the asylum process in the United States, from Columbia and just really present to being support and and empowering ally and partner to someone who is stepping into the possibility of an American dream, knowing that that is something that my parents who fled communist Cuba, and my grandparents who fled fascist Spain also found their feet on the shores of this country, stepping into possibility.

I am also celebrating and enjoying the emergence of spring. And I think there are ways in which we are all emerging from a very cold winter. So, those are, I would say three top notes that I have of things that are bringing me joy in this moment. And thank you for starting with that.

I just think it’s so important to center and take stock of and acknowledge things that we are thankful for and things that open our hearts at the beginning of conversations. 

Meghan Houle: [00:05:28] Absolutely, we’ll learn from the best, thank you for bringing that to me. And I appreciate you sharing all of that.

Warm weather with a little bit of apocalypse. Yes, we’re looking forward to spring. We love love and congrats on your new apartment. Kind of fresh start all sorts of good things going on.  And in the spirit of our podcasts, really jumping through, pivoting and talking through pivots and I’ll have a lot of juicy questions for you.

So, everybody tune in, get a pen and paper. You’re going to learn a lot from this episode. Let’s talk about your pivots through your career as an actor, to where you are, are now as a superstar speaking coach and CEO of Fearless Communicators. Talk to us a little bit about some of those pivots leading to where you are today.

Eduardo Placer: [00:06:13] Well, it’s funny that you mentioned the word pivot because I have an acute condition that I call showtune-itus.  So, my twin brother, I’m an identical twin, and my twin brother and I, when we played with our GI Joe’s as children in Miami, Florida, he played war and I played War: the musical with my little GI Joes, cause they had splits, which was very helpful. I don’t know if people realize that GI Joes can split, but they can split. They can’t do a straddle, but they can do a split. And one of my favorite musicals as a child was A Chorus Line.

It’s a brilliant, brilliant show, that tells the story of the people who are anonymous in a show, which is the ensemble, the chorus, like not the lead, not the star. And in my grandmother’s house in Miami, Florida. I would listen to the LP of a chorus line. And because there are no chorus line action figures, I would create a line, a chorus line, Parcheesi game pieces, and I would play a chorus line on a Parcheesi game board. I would always also play Evita, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, the opening moments of a chorus line, the choreographer Zack says, the last steps of the combination are pivot, step, walk, walk, walk.

And he says, let’s do the combination again, facing away from the mirrors, five, six, seven, eight, [music noises] right. Right so, in thinking of pivoting, I think pivot step walk, walk, walk, always. Yeah. And I would say that there’ve been many, many pivots. I think growing up as a queer child, I think you have to be quick on your toes.

And you have to figure out, one, is this place safe, is it not safe? What’s my strategy? And this is happening consciously and subconsciously at the same time. And for me as a child, I knew that my ticket out of Miami, Florida was school. So, I did extremely well in school and more than being extremely well in school, I was an achievement addict. So, it was like, I was a varsity swimmer and I got rid of styrofoam and the high school cafeteria and I did political things.

And, all these things that I was involved in, I interned on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. And if there was an organization, I was in it in a leadership thing. I was like, definitely polishing that resume for everything. And I found myself in Washington, DC at the pinnacle of what I thought at 18 years old was like my dream, which was to be on Capitol Hill, working for a Congressman and really deep down, all I wanted to do was sing and dance.

And  I think being the child of immigrants, specifically Cuban immigrants, like their two worst nightmares was one that their son be gay and two that they want to be an actor. And I was both. Yassss. So, funnily enough, I found myself on Capitol Hill learning how to tap dance from one of the staffers of the congressperson, she’d been a professional dancer. So, she would teach me to time step. So, then when I went to college, initially, I thought I wanted to study philosophy, politics, economics, go into politics. But really discovered that what I wanted to do was be an actor and I knew that I had an amazing opportunity by going to one of the top schools in the US the University of Pennsylvania, that I wanted to milk that for all that it was worth.

But I knew that when I graduated, deep in my heart, I wanted to set forth in the career of my dreams, which was to be an actor. So, that’s what I did it. At 22, I graduated from college and contrary to the advice and counsel of anyone around me, specifically, with the pedigree of having gone to an Ivy league school, I moved to New York city with a dance belt, a diet Coke, and a dream to be an actor.

So landed in New York City, I had the support of some family while I was here, but I had to work. I didn’t have a trust fund. There was no money. So, my first job was on wall street at Standard and Poor’s in human resources. So again, there’s this ability to kind of keep your eye on the prize.

I knew I wanted to be an actor, but I knew that there were other things that I had to do in the meantime to make that reality a possibility. Right? So, I had a full-time job on wall street in human resources as a temp. And what was interesting is because I was bilingual, my first language is Spanish. I got placed to be the visa coordinator, for all these foreign nationals who were trying to go through the asylum process, or they were trying to get green cards and H1B visas, all this stuff.

 Life experience, all that stuff kind of landed me in that while I was then simultaneously also doing this crazy acting program, you know that was like evenings, pounding mattresses, counting your emotions. It was like a total nightmare, while I was also simultaneously working as a janitor cleaning toilets at the dance studio 10 hours a week, so that I could take 10 dance classes a week.

Right, so I had an Excel spreadsheet with every waking moment, hour of the day, including commuting time, while I was living in North Jersey with a North star of knowing that what I wanted to do was be an actor. There were all these things that I needed to do to settle in order to make that a reality.

And then pretty luckily, early on and I would say there’s no such thing as luck, I work my Cuban tushie, my Cuban heinie for all of it. I started working as an actor. And I had this opportunity very early on to do this play in Washington, DC., and I was in this New York trajectory. I got my union card pretty quickly and this opportunity presented itself, which, because I didn’t grow up doing theater.

I had to be aware of where the energy was. And I think that this is something to track for people who are looking to pivot. I think there’s pivoting from a place of force and there’s pivoting from a space of flow.

Hashtag that. Yeah. If I was going from a space of force, I would have stayed in New York, right, and pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed. And this opportunity presented itself in Washington DC with this one director that I had known during my time as an undergrad, and there was a play that he was doing which was a play called Corpus Christi, which is by Terrence McNally, which is a very controversial play in all male identifying cast.

And I hadn’t done plays, I had only done musical theater. I’d only sung and danced. And I knew that the thing that was going to set me apart from people was acting, that’s the longer career. Not sitting in an ensemble. So, I took the opportunity, went to Washington DC, and then contrary to everyone’s advice, I moved down to Washington DC for two years. And what I did in Washington, DC is I worked everywhere. I worked at every reputable theater in the city, because I knew I wanted to prep myself to go to grad school, to conservatory to train as an actor. And while I was there, I was a singing waiter.

I was a temp at law firms. Like there were all these jobs that I was also doing, there was leaning on skills and abilities, again, taking the opportunities that were present, because I knew that that was all leading to the next step. And then I had the privilege of attending one of the top conservatories in the US, which is in La Jolla.

And there I had the power and the privilege of teaching public speaking to undergrads. Again, this is where opportunities present themselves. And you’re like, wait a second. I kind of clocked. I knew that the undergrads taught public speaking and acting, and that was a huge want, to go there.  And it’s funny how the universe unfolds because I didn’t get in.

And this is also opportunities. The woman who directed the only play that I was not in at this premier theater in DC called Arena Stage, was the woman who ran the acting program at UC San Diego. And I had reached out to her and I said, look, I can’t go to the audition in New York. So, this is also standing out and making requests, stepping outside of your comfort zone and asking for something that may not seem possible, to see if there’s possibility there.

I said, I can’t make it to New York to the audition for the school because I’m actually in technical rehearsals for a show and they won’t let me out of it. So, I can’t leave. And then she said, well, I’m actually coming through DC, so I would be willing to just audition you by myself. You’re at a major disadvantage because I’m not with my collaborators.

I auditioned with a committee, so, you’re kind of a disadvantage, but if you want to do it, let’s do it. So, I said, yes. So, I did the audition and I got the rejection letter from the school saying that I didn’t get in. And I hadn’t got into the, I applied to the top three schools, which were NYU, UCSD, and Yale.

And I got rejected from NYU and Yale. So, I kind of just had surrendered. It went out of the blue, I got a phone call and she said there was one spot where one person chose to go to another school and she remembered me from the audition. And did I want to go and she had no money to give me. And I said, you never look a gift horse in the mouth.

And I said, yes. I was like, you had me on hello. Like I’m coming, I’m doing everything in my power to make this thing happen. And it was a game changer, life changer to have three years to study, to play, to center the development of the craft to not have to be waitering and cater waitering and bartending doing all the things, the hustle while, you know, doing it was a huge benefit. And what’s interesting is again, moving into flow, one of the things that I also picked up was a camera. So, when I graduated from school, I had these parallel businesses. So, I had my acting career, I was also a portrait photographer, so I did headshots. I did children’s portraits.

The first wedding I photographed was in Jamaica and the second one was in Colombia. And then I started this parallel public speaking, coaching business. And then as I was in the space of being an actor, I performed in over 35 productions all over the United States and the top theaters in the US. I kept on finding myself in the room and then onstage thinking is this really all that I’m called to do in the world and the answer no, started off as a whisper and then got louder and louder and louder and louder. I’m sure this resonates with you, the generous resonator and with the listeners is that there are times where your mind really desire and you invest in that as a possibility and your heart and your body is actually telling you no.

I feel like sometimes it’s like, when you’re in a relationship, like I found myself where like the kiss is off or where you hold hands with someone, and it just, it doesn’t fit. And yet your mind is telling you, they went to Harvard, they have a great degree, they have a great apartment, they have great income, they’re really hot, but yet your body is telling you like runaway, no, doesn’t work, get out of there, this is not, right. So, there’s like a beautiful saying that steers our work now in Fearless Communicators, which is, knowledge is only rumor until it lives in the muscle. And there’s a way in which the body knows. And I would say my acting career specifically at the end was coming from a space of force.

I knew that I was called for something greater and I just needed the courage to step into that. And the universe has an amazing way of sometimes forcing a pivot, which is you lose a job. Or you get fired, right? Right. Yeah. My last job was at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is a premier repertory acting company in the U S and it’s heaven.

It’s a company of a hundred actors. They do 11 plays in rotating repertory. I mean, you’re doing maybe four or five plays. At least in my repertory contracts, I was never doing eight shows a week. I was doing maybe five or six. I mean, it felt luxurious. You had days, I was also a teaching artist.

And I was a tour guide at the theater and I produced their HIV and AIDS fundraiser. Like there were all these things that were like an expansive space of community. And I kept on noticing, I keep on showing up to places and I give them everything that I have and at the end I ended up without a job and I was like, that doesn’t work.

So, at the season I was like in conversations about coming on board in an administrative capacity while I was still an actor in the company, there was all this stuff that was like generating energetically as possibility. And then there’s one day where you find out what your casting is.

And my body, like the winds of change were like clocking that it’s not a hundred percent certain that you’ve got a job. Although I was hoping and wishing and praying, #thoughtsandprayers, that that was gonna happen. And then I got the phone call, I was sitting on the beach on the Oregon coast. Rocky, violent, Oregon coast beach, which all of the Oregon coast is like that,  and spoke to the artistic director. And he said, I never thought we would find ourselves in this position, but I don’t have a job for you next season. Again, as an actor, this is not the first time I’ve faced oblivion.

It’s not the first time that you face, and we don’t have a job for you. Right? This is not the first time rejection or a planned future. Thinking about the pandemic and stuff like that, where a planned future disappears in front of your very eyes. And you’re like, well, what I have is right now and right now, and right now. I lean on the three G’s, which are grace, generosity, and gratitude.

And there are people in these moments that go to like blame, belligerence, blasting, all of that. And really centered my breath in that moment, and I said, first of all, and obviously this is not the conversation I thought that I would be having, but in these moments, I think it’s important to express my gratitude.

Like this has been an extraordinary run. I feel so grateful to have been a part of this company and this organization, I’m so grateful for you and your leadership. I can empathize how hard it must be for you to have this conversation. And, and that you’re choosing to have conversations with people who you don’t have jobs for.

 That’s very uncomfortable for you and I acknowledge your courage and the willingness to deliver this conversation over the phone, and to actually have a conversation with someone.  And thank you and thank you so much. And it takes a leap to get there, but I think it creates energy that is possible and not shut down in the moment. And then of course I went to Dairy Queen and stuffed my face, and got really upset and all that other stuff, cause I’m a person. But I think it’s important to think about these moments of transition because it’s how we want to pivot. I think in that moment I pivoted with grace and then there were these opportunities that presented themselves after that, because now I was standing in front of an open future. I was up for a Fulbright. I was going to go to Kenya, India, and South Africa and do work with AIDS orphans on digital storytelling projects. And I was a finalist in that. And there was either that or my Fearless Communicators business.

And again, didn’t get it. It was down to 10 people they were going to choose five and I wasn’t one of them. I’m going to step forward, that’s where the entrepreneurship journey began. And I would say that, that is where I find myself today, six years on. And it’s always a dance. Right?

And I think that’s why pivoting is such a great metaphor because in dancing, there’s always a pivot. If you’re dancing in a straight line, not interesting. Right, but the pivoting is what actually makes it interesting. If you notice the pivot, it’s also intrinsic to a heartbeat. A heartbeat is not a flat line, a flat line is death, but there’s pivots.

There’s a turn, and there’s constant turns. And I just think that that’s life. And I think that there’s an opportunity for us to not be afraid of the pivot, but leaning into the pivot. Right? And then when we lean into the pivot, trusting that the pivot that’s emerging, is one that is ultimately in alignment and in the greatest service of ourselves and our purpose.

Meghan Houle: [00:21:19] Thank you for sharing all that and in terms of your Fearless Communicators, and I know you coach some pretty amazing people.  What do most people struggle with that come to you for coaching and what are some of your offerings around that? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:21:34] One of my leaning places to begin is 76% of people suffer from speech anxiety, and everybody else lies. There’s like maybe 1% of people who are like, I don’t have any fear. And I think oftentimes that comes from a lot of privilege. So, for me, I begin the journey in second grade at show and tell, clutching a stuffed animal seal, standing in front of my classmates.

When I then blurted out that I named the seal after a boy that I had a crush on. And in that moment decided that when I stand in front of people to speak, I can’t be myself. I can’t speak the truth. And if I do it’s dangerous and that fear is always present for me specifically when I’m presenting and speaking in front of male dominated spaces.

Right? Which let’s face it is the world. My biggest fear specifically in corporate landscapes and stuff like that, I’m going to say something really horrible, but I’m just going to preempt it before I say it, is that somebody is going to call me a faggot. Right? Because that was my experience growing up as a kid that, that was named that, that was said, so that anyone would see that, or think that or name that, right?

Then I feel like I have to force myself to conform into what I believe they want me to be. And there are ways in which my father and my culture and teachers taught me conformity while at the same time, there’s this whole underbelly undercurrent of be authentic, be you. Right? But it’s like be you as long as you’re passing for what you want me to be.

And I think that, that tension, now I’m 44, right? So, I would say that kids now that are growing up, probably have maybe a different experience, but I would say that that stress, that trauma is something that was intrinsic to how I grew up, and I have to give myself permission every time I speak to show up exactly the way that I am.

So, there is a certain amount of support that I think people are looking for, which is how do I speak, not as a performance, but how do I actually speak and lead in a way that it’s in alignment from my diverse body and the voice that emanates from that diverse body as a true testament to who I am in service of the people that I’m committed to making a difference for.

Meghan Houle: [00:23:47] All that you’re offering with Fearless Communicators is such valuable information,  it seems like you are pretty powerful in what you’re teaching and teaching a lot of amazing life skills for people to get out there and talk about themselves, get jobs.

So, in the spirit of this podcast, we usually ask a yes or no question, and then we go to a quick break and I know you and I have talked about this, but yes or no. Do you think pivoting is possible at any age? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:24:14] Absolutely! 

Meghan Houle: [00:24:15] And with that, we will go to a quick break and pick this up when we get back.

All right Eduardo, before the break, you said yes, tell me what are some of the best practices you can give listeners who want to pivot, but may have shame around their age. For example, feeling aged out of certain jobs or having COVID resume gaps, questionable career pivots, major life events gaps. How would you advise somebody to address these head on?

Eduardo Placer: [00:24:56] The biggest piece of advice I would say is own the gap, right? I think people are oftentimes ashamed of the gap. There’s shame around the gap, for example, I do global work and I remember I was in Israel doing a program with entrepreneurs, people who were pivoting in their businesses into tech.

And there was this Orthodox Jewish woman who’d had nine children or something like that. And there was a gap of like 12 years in her resume. And now she was going back into the job force. And I said to her own the gap. Because what’s going to happen is you’re going to go into the interview and you’re going to be resisting and avoiding anything about the gap, what you’re resisting and avoiding, what you don’t want to give attention to, you’re still focusing on and that’s what they’re going to focus on. Right? So, know that that question is coming and how can you then spin that to talk about what was possible, what you learned, how that’s applicable. There’s one of my clients, she talks about her mommy MBA and she has an undergraduate degree from Yale, I want to say, and an MBA from MIT Sloan or something, like that. She has four kids and she said the best prep that she’s had for a career in business as an executive is being a mom. And she has 20 years of that experience. And it doesn’t appear on LinkedIn. Like she knows how to put a CEO in timeout, like when they’re having a temper tantrum. Things like that, right? Yeah. Yeah. So, I think it’s possible. And what I’m noticing is that our culture is ageist. And I think that there’s a way in which I think we can also, frame and celebrate and center the experience of our elders.

And create spaces for them to really center their learnings and their knowledge. And I find all the time, people in their sixties and even in seventies with ideas and new projects and new things that they want to create. And I’m always excited and thrilled to hear.

Meghan Houle: [00:26:39] You can truly pivot at any age and I think a lot of pivoting success also too, comes from networking, which is such a hot topic on this podcast and certainly I’ve heard you speak about networking with abundance, which is really giving back, planting seeds. So, tell me how can someone step into networking abundance and maybe what three things can someone do today to fearlessly network? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:27:09] So, I would say the first piece is a mindset piece. I would think of it as gardening and not hunting. So you are really creating a fertile ground and it’s going to take time. It’s going to take longer than you think. So, I think thinking about networking spaces that you can go to, that is all about relationship building.

It’s really important. And I think you probably don’t even know who you know. So, I think one thing that’s helpful is to make a list of 50-100 people that they know and start reaching out on LinkedIn. And saying, “Hey, would love to have a virtual coffee with you and just catch up, it’s been too long!”. Not ask for anything, but just to be really curious about what’s happening in their lives. And people love to talk about themselves. Right? So, just create the space to listen, take notes of what they said. There’s a great term in Spanish, “tener detalles” which is have detail about people, right? So, over the course of that conversation saying, Oh, they talked about this dog that they really love this type of puppy. Or this author that they really love or a book or a TV show or something like that. So, if you have notes of that, then when something pops up on your Facebook feed or you see an article that’s of interest to you, you can send it to the person and say, “Hey, this thing just came down my path and I saw that, you love Pekingeses,  this new breed just came out, it’s called the Peekapoo, I think you’re going to love it!” And then you send it has nothing to do with a job.

It has nothing to do with anything, but it just shows that you paid attention and you listened, right? That starts creating a sense of goodwill, and connection. They’re like, “Oh my God, that’s so great!”, and then you start becoming top of mind for things, right, as they’re thinking. So, I think one gardening, two making a list, reaching out and just being really curious about what they’re up to.

And then, I’m a member of a networking group called BNI, which is called Business Networking International. And I’ve been in that group now for almost five years and they’re all over the world. And the motto is “Givers gain.”. So, being a part of a networking community that’s all about giving, I think is a great space to also locate yourself. So, specifically people who are pivoting and they have new projects, they have new businesses, they’re going to business, perhaps for themselves or stepping into entrepreneurship. I think something like a BNI and  there are also programs that are for women only identifying businesses.

 I know sometimes those spaces can be really masculine focused and not necessarily always super welcoming or spaces that women identifying people may feel very comfortable in. So, there are circles that are like that, that are for women identifying people.

I think that that is a great ecosystem to start being in the space of getting really curious and interested in other people and the work that they do and then oftentimes in that landscape, you’re not just networking, but you’re also networking your network. So, that is where there’s a lot of abundance. Right. 

Meghan Houle: [00:29:58] Once you get a conversation or if someone’s applying for a job, what advice would you give to somebody to really stand out in this crowded market space and crowded voices of everyone trying to connect with everyone and network?

How can somebody really stand out in your mind? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:30:12] I’m going to go back to the three G’s, grace, gratitude, and generosity.

Right? I think being really mindful that if someone gifts you their time, that you be prepared for that conversation. So, not to treat it casually, but to really honor the person’s time, come really prepared with questions. And I think also coming with curiosity, not with a, “I need”, but like, I’m actually really curious to learn how you got to your position.

I’m really curious about your journey. I’m really curious about your story, right? I think that that, stands out. Again, because people don’t remember what you say or do they remember how you make them feel. Maya Angelou very famously said that. So, I think you want to ensure that you’re leaving the person feeling, wow, that was really beautiful, or that was really powerful, or that was a lovely conversation. Because then that sentiment is going to carry. You’re not leaving them with a feeling of like that was lame or that was stupid, or that was a waste of my time or that person was really rude. So, you also want to be considering what is the feeling that you’re leaving the person with and being extremely generous and extremely grateful, for anything, any advice, any resource that they give you, like all of that I think has you stand out. So, it’s not about you, it’s about how you make them feel. 

Meghan Houle: [00:31:33] That’s so powerful, gratitude is everything.  We all talk about it so much these days really thanking somebody, leaning in, being appreciative of whatever is coming your way and all that you also have, and for anyone looking for a career pivot, what advice would you give to somebody in this moment? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:31:52] I would offer, there’s pivoting from force and there’s pivoting from flow and I think you’ll keep hitting barriers and walls if you are pivoting out of force. Now, I want to acknowledge that we’re in an economic downturn, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and the want and the need for resources and money and income is real. It’s not like this is a lala dance. And I think it’s a real opportunity for people to think about what do I really want to do? And what may present itself as maybe casting a little bit of a wider net and trusting, where is the energy coming from? Where are the opportunities coming up? And leaning into, wow, that energy is telling me something! Because you can want something from your head, right? I want that job because of the title and the money and the status and all that other stuff, but you show up there and it’s not a match. You hate it, you’re empty and if you take perhaps a different route that may be lower money, initially, it could actually start creating the abundance that you want a little further down the line. It’s an investment in actually the life that you want to create for yourself in doing that. So, I think that there’s an opportunity to think about the bigger picture. The quality of life that you want,  what you want work to feel like, your, colleagues, how they show up in the work environment.

Right? So, sometimes we get a little hung up on the salary and the title. And think that because of the salary and the title, everything is going to align, but then you end up in a place and you’re just like, I have the title, I had the salary, but this sucks. Like I hate- 

Meghan Houle: [00:33:29] It’s not a good work environment.

Eduardo Placer: [00:33:31] It’s hostile, it’s toxic. People are terrible. People are mean. People are gross. The clients are a nightmare. You’re like, “Oh, like I want to on a run!”. And I think that part of that is having the courage to just dream a little bit, to think a little wider, take a moment, and to say, where is the energy coming from?

Where are the opportunities presenting themselves? And oftentimes people find that those things fall on their lap. That’s when people say something just fell on my lap. I think a lot of that is them-a-festing, as opposed to saying manifesting it’s them-a-festing the stuff that is coming and actually being in alignment.

And I think pivoting in alignment, pivoting in alignment with your purpose. I think taking the moment, not the first thing that presents itself, but actually really looking and saying, wait a second, what is the energy like? It’s a path this way looks sunny and bright and great, and that one looks really murky and dark and gross and messy, you know?

I think I’m going to go where the energy is driving, and knowing sometimes that can be deceiving and sometimes you’ve got to pivot and go in another direction, right? I think if there’s something that’s true is if you’re going to pivot and they’re going to be lots of pivots and I think invite the pivot, welcome to pivot.

Don’t resist the pivot. 

Meghan Houle: [00:34:43] And that my friend is the heart of this podcast. So, with all of that, how can our listeners find you, Eduardo? We won’t come to your home, we promise. But any tips, videos, we can watch, any on YouTube? What’s the best way for people to stay in touch with you?

Eduardo Placer: [00:34:56] So, one easy thing is people can follow me on Instagram @standforfearless. Our website of course, is fearlesscommunicators.com. And I have a special invitation to all the listeners. So, the first Thursday of every month we have an event that we call the Thought Leadership Forum and it’s free.

And it has three intentions. One, is an opportunity for people to center their own thought leadership. Two is to elevate their skills, and three, is to intentionally network. Intentionally network with their future collaborators, colleagues, and champions. So, it’s an hour and a half. There’s a lot of opportunity to be in breakout rooms and to build relationships with people.

The first one we did on how to build trust with an audience, the second one was about vulnerability. The next one that we have coming up is around authenticity. So, again, I think topics that are top of mind to people on how to show up in the various spaces that they’re looking to be in the space of speaking.

And again, we say there’s no such thing as private speaking all speaking is public people can hear you, it’s public. And again and we’ll put a link  for people to register for that. And again, it’s free and we would love for you, anyone who’s listening here to step into and be a part of our Fearless community.

Meghan Houle: [00:36:05] Well, thank you for that generous offering. One last question, what was your favorite part you’ve played as an actor over the years? 

Eduardo Placer: [00:36:11] Ooo, there are no simple answers and there are no simple answers. So, I had the privilege of playing Puck in a Midsummer Night’s Dream in this very Jimmy Hendrix inspired 1960s. And then the other one was my dream, dream role was playing Angel in Rent. And I had the privilege of  playing Angel in Chicago. And there’s the song “I’ll cover you. So, live in my house, I’ll be your shelter. Just pay me back with 1000 kisses. Be my lover and I’ll cover you, 525,600.

Meghan Houle: [00:36:51] Thank you so much Eduardo for this powerful conversation, deep diving into some very important meaningful topics. I appreciate  all you’re doing in the community and beyond to really make this world a more positive and inclusive space while  also teaching people how to embrace who they are, their story.

And as you say also speak from a place of power, not panic. I am looking forward to seeing much more from you in the future. And thank you again for being here, with us.

Eduardo Placer: [00:37:16] Thank you, with a lot of gratitude for you and for all the listeners. Thank you so much. 

FC Podcasts: [00:37:22] Pivot with Purpose with host Meghan Houle is a Fashion Concert Production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corinne and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music, learn more at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 9

Meredith Fineman is an entrepreneur, writer, and media expert with over a decade of experience training individuals to use public relations as a catalyst for positive career change. Fineman is the founder and CEO of FinePoint, a leadership and professional development company with a focus on visibility and voice. She speaks and trains a number of topics, and is best known for her speaking and training on women and bragging. Fineman is also the author of Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion, which came out in June 2020 with Portfolio (Penguin Random House)and is the creator and host of the second-hand and sustainable fashion podcast, It Never Gets Old, and the secondhand and sustainable fashion newsletter, Secondhand Society™. Her dog, Bean, is her copilot.

Find Brag Better and all of Meredith’s offerings: https://www.meredithfineman.com/

Connect with Meredith on Social Media:  @meredithfineman

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose, a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives, more purposefully and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Meghan Houle, a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Meghan Houle method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:32] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host, Meghan Houle. And in this episode, we talk to Meredith Fineman, CEO of FinePoint Media, host of It Never Gets Old podcast and best-selling author of Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self Promotion.

FC Podcasts: [00:00:49] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host Meghan Houle. You can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, your support amplifies our voice. And now this week’s episode. 

Meghan Houle: [00:01:23] Meredith Fineman is an entrepreneur writer and media expert with over a decade of experience training individuals to use public relations as a catalyst for positive career change.

She is the founder and CEO of FinePoint, a leadership and professional development company with a focus on visibility and voice. She speaks and trains on a number of topics and is best known for her speaking and training on women and bragging. Fineman is also the author of Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self Promotion. And is the creator and host of the secondhand and sustainable fashion podcast, It Never Gets Old.

And the second hand and sustainable fashion newsletter, Secondhand Society. Meredith Fineman, thank you for being here with us today on the Pivot with Purpose podcast. 

Meredith Fineman: [00:02:09] So, excited to be here. Thanks so much for having me. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:12] Oh, I am just so excited. Fan girling on the other side of this mic, I have to say Brag Better is the number one book I am buying now for all my coaching clients. And I’m just really excited to have you in this hot seat to not only discuss all things Brag Better, but also some of your other impressive projects. And for any of our listeners, I know you are going to get some valuable, direct information on what it means and how to brag better from this conversation.

So, I would find a cozy spot, grab a pen and a notebook and Meredith let’s dive in. As I know we have a lot to cover. Shall we? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:02:49] Let’s do it.

Meghan Houle: [00:02:51] I always like to start getting a bit personal to ease into this conversation. So, let’s share some life of Meredith highlights with our listeners. What are some of your passions beyond your work projects right now?

Meredith Fineman: [00:03:01] Yeah, I have a lot of different passions. I mean, one of which is fashion and particularly secondhand fashion, which I’ve, now baked into my work. But other things I’m passionate about, all art, stickers. I have a adult sticker collection. And yes, this marks, a year of being inside, but I do a lot of painting and crafts and that sort of stuff.

I’m not sure that I’m someone who can totally have passions that don’t end up as like work-related things, which is a different, problem. But, I’m extremely passionate about comedy and writing, women’s causes, travel in the before times and chocolate hummus, which is very controversial.

Meghan Houle: [00:03:47] Do you get the one from like Trader Joe’s? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:03:49] So, I think the Sabra one is good. So, for anyone that doesn’t know, chocolate hummus sounds disgusting. But really what it is is it’s like a chocolate mousse that’s just made from chickpeas, which still sounds disgusting.

So, you have to try it to sort of understand, but it’s very good on like fruit or apples or stuff like that. In quarantine, I’m not someone who cooks. I baked dog treats now. I mean, I should, should say I’m extremely passionate about my dog and memes and anything funny and animal related and, or like people falling down, which sounds rude, but I cannot have Tiktok because,  I am a huge like meme person and I post them constantly on my Instagram, but I can’t have Tiktok cause it’s too good. It’s like everything I like, which is like jokes, comedy, people falling down, animals, some of the most creative, like, short form comedy I’m seeing right now, which like you can’t argue with, but I think otherwise I would be very passionate about it. 

Meghan Houle: [00:04:50] I love you first and foremost. Second of all, I hear you on the chocolate hummus. I think I don’t buy it because I will be one of those people  that will sit and just eat the whole dang thing at once. And then be like, “Oh, I just ate this whole thing.”. I think I would really enjoy it, enjoying chocolate.

So, maybe you’ve inspired me. 

Meredith Fineman: [00:05:06] I mean, it’s made of like chickpeas. I mean, you can eat the whole thing, but it’s like extremely fibrous. So, I wouldn’t, I mean, I wouldn’t recommend it, but 

Meghan Houle: [00:05:15] I would not recommend it, tip number one. 

Meredith Fineman: [00:05:19] Who are you seeing? So, like who cares?  I was with one of my best friends and so he’s in my, like pod or bubble of people or whatever you want to call it. And we were walking because another friend of his has this very interesting  breakfast taco pop-up and he got one and I was just sitting there and like, without thinking I pulled like a Fage yogurt and a full, like from home spoon out of my tote bag and just started eating it. I have no idea how to be around like people. I hope they like just really like a kooky lady because it’s too late now. 

Meghan Houle: [00:05:58] Yeah. No turning back. Well we embrace all of you and your talents and your suggestions so far.

So, we already have some good tips, but beyond all of those wonderful passions and thank you so much for sharing. I truly believe you are an incredible writer and your books and also all the amazing articles you have out there that I feel like resonate with so many people with also a really impressive career journey.

What got you falling in love with writing? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:06:26] Yeah. So, at my core, I define myself as an artist, as a writer. I mean, it sounds a little lofty to call it as an artist, but I pick the best words and put them in the best order. And that’s, what I do.   So my father’s a journalist. My mother’s a former journalist. My grandmother on my father’s side was an English professor. My grandmother on my mother’s side taught a lot of special needs as it came to writing. My grandfather on my mother’s side was an ad man and wrote ads. So it’s the family business, if you will. Like, I can’t pinpoint a moment.

Because I think some of it is honestly genetic. And then obviously it’s something you very much have to practice and refine and define and work on. And that’s not to say you have to be born with it by any means. I believe that writing, I don’t know about humor and writing but good writing is a practice.

Meghan Houle: [00:07:23] Absolutely. Well, tell us a little bit about some of those important career highlights that you’ve had and some things that you’re really proud of career to date, as you’ve built a lot and worked with a lot of great companies, so, tell us a little bit about your career. 

Meredith Fineman: [00:07:37] Yeah, so people ask me how I built my company, which at this point, my work is divided among writing. I wrote Brag Better. I co-wrote a book that came out in 2018, a data book and I do a lot of like Bookworld and writing counseling with people. So, that can be book proposals, that can be chats about the industry, that can be about releasing books. And then I have my consulting with FinePoint, which tows the line between leadership and professional development and media relations and PR and personal brand.

And then I have my speaking and training, particularly around Brag Better. And still I freelance write. I do a lot of different things. And people ask me how I built that. And I did not have a plan for it. I could probably benefit from some more planned thinking around certain things, but that’s not how this happened for me.

I am someone who was always entrepreneurial, but did not understand because they do not come from many entrepreneurs or just a very entrepreneurial like community, frankly. That was really an option for me and I always sort of had this authority problem, but I was very, very studious and liked a lot of order sometimes, but I couldn’t figure out why internships or my first job just didn’t work for me, which like was, a whole other thing.

But I started freelance writing when I was 18. And, so that started really young. I always like had a tutoring hustle and sold little crafts I made. So that was always sort of like on the side. My first, job. I graduated at the height of the recession in 2009.

And I did like hundreds of informational first round interviews, bazillion second round, ended up with like one job offer. It’s funny, which now for a firm of someone who’s now a peer who I pulled aside, and like, I’m sure you do not remember this, but you offered me a job like when I was 22 and now we’re here at this conference, we have a lot of people in common and it was like just this odd, full circle moment. But, I decided instead of to take that job in New York, to move to Argentina. So, I worked for Young and Rubicam, which is a global ad agency.

And I was there for a year and a half and it was amazing. I strongly endorse, if you’re able to spend significant time in a foreign country, particularly working is incredibly difficult, but I came back to Washington, DC, where I’m from, thought I’d go back to New York, ended up staying sort of seeing kind of the transformation of the city.

But also I sit at this intersection of old guard Washington, of the sort of media and politics bubble and new guard young entrepreneurs, diversification of industry. It’s not as much of a one industry town as it used to be. People have a lot of misconceptions about DC, which sometimes I like, because I’m like, well it’s our secret, but DC is really on the map culturally, business-wise. And that was not ever the case. So, I got a job at a digital agency and I hated it. And simultaneously I had gone viral for something that, now I was speaking to, I mean, I speak constantly, but it was in the before times I traveled to a friend, I was doing a talk and she was a professor at a university and I said, I’m happy to speak to your class.

And it was like writing related and anyway, I had this viral blog called Fifty First (J)Dates. And it was before Betches, it was before anyone was really writing about online dating in this way. It was just intended for my friends and then it was like true virality. And I ran that for a couple of years, but more than anything that like really taught me about consistent writing.

And I was at this firm and I was sort of getting some deals with the blog that then people were interested in a book, people were interested in television. I ended up ultimately, obviously not going that route for a lot of different reasons, but it taught me how to write in public.

And how to write with eyeballs and what people liked and consistent content and what that meant. But I quit this firm and I had no backup. In retrospect, it’s only something that like, a dumb and pretty privileged 23 year old could do. I had savings is, is a very, very strong word for it, but I just thought I would get another job.

 In the meantime, I was like, I gotta figure out how to pay my rent. I’m going to cobble it together with writing. I threw parties. I was a club promoter in college. I started to get like some clients. And I was like, “Oh!”. At first I was pedaling social media, which was not my strong suit, it then ended up being a building FinePoint as a PR firm. And then going in the specific direction with bragging and individuals. But it, was a path that was not conventional and not planned.  The big highlight for me is writing Brag Better and getting that published after seven years of begging someone to pay attention to it. And so I would say like that’s my number one highlight, but also just like. Still being here. Still being able to do my own thing. I’m extremely grateful.

Meghan Houle: [00:12:35] Thank you for sharing all of that and I know we will get back to speaking engagements and all getting back together and doing all of the trainings that I’m sure you’ve been used to, and maybe miss. But curious to know for someone who has facilitated and led trainings and really participated in some, powerful speaking engagements. What message seems to resonate the most for those showing up to connect with you through these platforms? And what can someone expect listening to one of your talks? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:13:03] Yeah, I would say my top line takeaways. So, my thing, my bread and butter, what I speak on, what I train on, what I have individual clients for is why bragging and self-promotion are essential and how to harness the skillset of a public relations professional for your career.

 Bragging is simply stating facts. And I define bragging as stating facts about your work strategically and cohesively to advance your career. That is irrespective of level of seniority, that could be going for an internship, or that could be going for a corporate board seat.

My audience is called the Qualified Quiet. People that have done the work, but don’t know how to talk about it. That is irrespective of gender. And that is also irrespective of level of seniority. I noticed when I was running FinePoint as a PR shop, I started to become the go-to for individual public relations because I had been writing since I was 18. I had been speaking, throwing parties. I was always putting myself out there in this particular way. And people wanted kind of some of the personal brand. But what I was noticing, the entire trajectory of which is why I do what I do, is that nobody knows how to talk about themselves. But that was not improving with success.

And what we have is the system where we reward the wrong voices. You know, 99.9% of people that I work with, or I speak to say, I’d rather put my head down and do the work, then talk about it. I want my work to speak for itself. And if you aren’t the person out there touting it, it’s going to be extremely difficult for someone else to.

And they also just, aren’t going to take the time and energy to know and to seek it out. I counsel senior executives from big companies or even just one-on-one, people can buy an hour of my time and it’s the same consistent issues. You’re so not alone in feeling anxious, ashamed, disgusted, fearful about talking about yourself that it’s what I do for a living. It is my core message. And I also want to say that this is a, skill. You’re not supposed to know how to do these things. Nobody teaches you them. If you are a woman, if you are anyone but a white man, it does not come naturally. And it is very complicated, but it is something you can learn and it’s something you refined throughout your entire career.  

Meghan Houle: [00:15:10] And what led you on the path to write Brag Better? Was this book in your soul or something that really manifested over time from your years of teaching, and as you mentioned, particularly supporting women to help them better advocate for themselves? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:15:24] Yes. So, I ran FinePoint for, I mean I’ve had this company for about 10 years now.

I would say I ran it for about the first three as a PR firm.  I got very bored, but I also noticed that to me, the least interesting part of public relations, which like another podcast is conversations around the kind of reputation and maybe the sexism that exists with publicists and what people think of them as it’s primarily women’s work and how we value that.

The least interesting part of what I was doing was getting that press hit was getting the actual placement of something somewhere. It was the packaging and pitching and understanding what the right messaging was and being unafraid to consistently ask for attention for it that I knew was incredibly valuable to people.

And we were sort of throwing the baby out with the bath water in, this sense that people were only seeing this one thing and only valuing this one thing. And I realized it was a tremendous skillset and I didn’t know what to do with that. And I also didn’t know what to do with the fact that I couldn’t stand that the same young women who were coming in to intern for me and the household name women I was talking to at conferences, could not introduce themselves to me, could not tell me the work that they’d done. 

PR requires a certain amount of doggedness, a certain amount of resourcefulness and a certain amount of persistence. But, that’s not, it, that’s not all of it, but I didn’t care that someone didn’t have a PR background. I cared more about like who they were and being proud of their work and what they’d done.

And it was particularly visible for women. I am very clear that the message of Brag Better and the Qualified Quiet is not only for women, or people who identify as women,  but it is for everyone who sees that there’s someone they know in their classroom, in their work pod, in their network, on a panel, who has done less work than they do, but is getting the attention.

And I also saw that from my deep understanding of media and attention and how we pay attention and what we pay attention to and what we pay attention to is loud.  As much as I’d like to be optimistic and say, we can get the loud people to be quiet. It’s a matter of getting that Qualified Quiet to turn up the volume strategically, to ultimately propel your career.

It’s a strategic communication skillset that is going to help you get what you want. 

Meghan Houle: [00:17:37] And so valuable and I cannot wait to dive more into Brag Better. And poke you with some more questions, but in the spirit of our podcast I will ask you a yes or no answer. And then we’ll go to a quick break.

Yes or no. Do you remember the exact moment you decided to write Brag Better? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:17:54] Yes.

Meghan Houle: [00:17:55] And with that, we will be going to a break and we will pick this up when we get back.

So, Meredith, before the break, you said, yes. Tell us about the moment that led you to put this book out into the universe. 

Meredith Fineman: [00:18:19] Yeah, it is extremely specific.  So, I had all these clients I was representing, which I still do and I was representing this incredible woman and she is goals in every sense of the word from just the way she acts to the type of business she does to what she’s built on her own, to her choices in her personal life, like who she chose to marry. Like just deep admiration and respect. And I booked her on TV, which is notoriously fickle.

And difficult because you have this giant funnel where like everyone wants to be on TV and they only have so much time. And they’re very reluctant to ever book anyone new because, you know, it’s live or it’s TV. Like they need to know you’re going to be okay for an audience. And she said to me you know, I don’t know if I’m the best person to do this, there might be someone who knows more than I do. And sure in the grand scheme of, there might be someone richer earth thinner, or better looking or so on and so forth. Like, I guess you could always apply that, but this person had been in a presidential administration on the topic and to be on TV, you get to make maybe two to three key points. We see lots of blowhard men doing it. And this is really what, what kills me too, is like I care overall in the grand scale, men and women that we get more qualified, thoughtful, truthful people as expert sources. And so that’s a lot of what I strive toward on the grand media scale and she didn’t do it.

She decided not to do it and I hung up the phone. And my phone died and I was actually in Las Vegas at the Wynn hotel pool. I was there for a friend’s conference I mean, it was just divine inspiration’s, a little dramatic. 

Meghan Houle: [00:19:56] Yeah. You’re like, “We’re doing this!”. 

Meredith Fineman: [00:19:58] Well, this was October of 2013 and I didn’t have a pen and I was reading a book and I asked one of the cocktail waitresses for a pen. And I wrote in the margin of my book braggart. And I put parentheses around the word art. So, it was originally the Art of Bragging. I don’t know how that became Brag Better. It just did. I don’t know why it’s not braggart, a braggart is someone who brags and the outline, the very, very, very, very early outlines in 2013 are nowhere near what I was able to accomplish with the finished Brag Better product, which came out in 2020 and the subsequent workbook, which is coming and other, factors of it. But, it became an exercise in faith and pitching and my own doggedness, which, almost broke me a couple times, but it was a highly, highly, highly specific moment. And there were many people who told me not to use the word. There are many people who told me we didn’t need this book. I shopped it once in 2015, it was not ready yet. It was pre me too. It was pre-Trump. It was not ready, people didn’t get it yet  my curse actually is being too early. Which I think everything’s timing. I’m always too early, which is very annoying. And I ended up shopping it again in 2018 and it went really fast. I thought it was dead in the water. It was just too early. It was just not the right timing.

But yes, that was a highly, highly specific moment. 

Meghan Houle: [00:21:17] I love it. It’s all about timing for our listeners. I mean, for so many things, right?  What is that Netflix show, Queens Gambit. That was like 30 years in the making, right? I mean, you just have to find your moment and test what you can and it’s been incredible to see.  I’ve been using Brag Better.

I know there’s a lot of people out there that really, truly enjoyed this book. And it is such a hot topic for our listeners and knowing many of us struggle with talking about ourselves, which you have already highlighted so beautifully, but also that bragging and what I’ve taken away from your conversations and reading is not being cocky or over confident, but like you’ve said more about stating facts.

So, why do you think people have such a hard time talking about themselves? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:21:59] Many reasons, but as I said, you’re not supposed to know how to do these things. There’s a lot about, I have constant conversations about what we value when it comes to skills and soft skills versus hard skills. Soft skills, being communications, or writing. Hard skills, being like data analysis, science, math and what we assigned to that.

 As I alluded to before, I believe that some of that is quite gendered or sexist. But people have this idea that when it comes to softer skills, that they should know how to do them. You are not taught how to talk about yourself. So, at my core, I’m a writer. Our vocabulary is so limited in what we have to talk about ourselves in a way that is thoughtful and engaging and exists, that I had to use the word brag.

I mean many people still told me not to use the word brag. I was talking to someone about a speaking. She’s like, I don’t know if my audience would really like, like the word brag. I’m like, well, I don’t know why I’m on the phone with you, but like that makes no sense to me. But yes, I know, like I know that people like, let me tell you that’s actually really what they need.

What I highlight is we do not have a vocabulary to talk positively about professional accomplishment and that’s what I’ve written. And our words are extremely limited. I chose that instead of finding a cutesy phrase like talk yourself up or you know, I wanted one word.

And so it was about redefining that word. And I, wasn’t going to pick a new word because that’s almost impossible to do, unless you’re literally like an Uber. When you own language, you own the conversation and you get to define it. And so it will always be an uphill battle with the word brag, but the definition of brag, not as I define it, but the classical definition is to talk about oneself with excessive pride. Technically first it’s to talk about oneself boastfully, which does nothing. Boastful means to talk about oneself with excessive pride. And what it hinges on is pride, which is deeply subjective.

 That’s what also makes people anxious is there are no rules around this stuff, which I have created sort of, I guess, bumper lanes around how you think about doing these things. It is an act of vulnerability, so that’s extremely scary. And then we have a lot of judgments about how other people do it and how we do it. For women, particularly, you’re judged on metrics that men are not. You are evaluated from your height and weight, to the sound of your voice, to the color of your hair, to your age.  Historically for women, positive attributes were associated with passive behaviors. So, she was shy, she was demure, she was coy.

All of those things were deeply alluring, but also literally meant that a woman was silent. So, silence equaled attraction. And then it’s, as I said, this is an act of vulnerability to stand proudly in your work, but as a woman or as anyone who is not a white man is an inherently radical act.

And that’s not always pretty, you know, I’ve been met with a lot of crap. Yeah. It’s very easy to take a shot at someone who’s decided to put herself out there. But I argue, and then there’s real danger for women, which is a different conversation, but I argue and prove that it is a net positive because people don’t know what you’ve done until you tell them.

 Those are the reasons, also how you’re brought up. Maybe you saw gender roles performed in a certain way, and you had a very passive, quiet mom, which she could have also been a fantastic mother, but didn’t display voice in this particular way.

I do a lot of different Brag Better talks and events online now. And I did a great one on bragging better in Asian culture, particularly with Asian women. I had four amazing Asian-American women talking about their experiences. So, your family, your upbringing, cultural factors, a lack of words, a lack of role models, because we have these people screaming and then we have everyone else who has no idea what to do.

All of that means that I would have no idea how anyone would really feel good about doing this. 

Meghan Houle: [00:25:51] Well, and for some of the key points that you make in your book,  for people that are struggling to create that bio or elevator pitch, and then getting stuck using what they have put together to present directly through a conversation, or while writing an email introduction, where do you feel like the best place our listeners can start to get them feeling more comfortable, putting their achievements together and then articulating them?

Meredith Fineman: [00:26:16] Yeah. So, this is a skill to learn skills and you refine throughout your entire career. It’s about recognizing that there are opportunities all around you to promote yourself and share your work and state those facts strategically and cohesively to advance your career. You can start anywhere. I have coached people to raise their hand in a meeting.

It could be calling a friend or it could just be like saying to yourself at the end of the workweek, like, wow, I really killed that presentation, or I’m really proud of that thing that I did. Like, that’s a place to start. I mean, on the micro it’s, maybe your email signature is it easy to see who you are?

What’s derivative of public relations is you need to get an attractive message to someone as quickly as possible and get them to say yes. And so in this case, nobody’s going to seek that out. So,  evaluating your social media, yes. I have a free chapter on the Brag Better website, which is brag-better.com. That I wrote last April on how to brag better from home and online and I’m planning on expanding that because we now live in this world, which will from now on hopefully with the vaccine, we’ll see what the future of work looks like. But the future of work is certainly going to be blended between the virtual and, the in-person. And so what does that mean to do that from behind a screen?

But, what message are you sending out with your headshot? Do you have one? Is it a casual photo?, It’s starting to recognize all of those places as opportunities and not burdens and it’s going to be outside of your comfort zone, but you can inch out like in this case I’m not trying to put anyone on a stage necessarily.

Some of my clients want that, but maybe it is just making sure that you buy the domain of your name and think about putting together a personal website. 

Meghan Houle: [00:27:58] Yeah. Sometimes I will tell my clients like put a PowerPoint together of your achievements or a little marketing deck of what you’re really proud of, if you’re having trouble and something you can use consistently and as you said, it’s a skill. It’s something that you build, but you have to start somewhere. And I know in Brag Better, there are so, so many good nuggets. But what main points can readers really take away from diving into Brag better? Start to finish. We won’t give too many spoilers, but I know you talk about being loud, proud, strategic but what are  some of those main points, someone buying this book, will get out of.

Meredith Fineman: [00:28:34] Your accomplishments are worth talking about. You’re so not alone in these feelings. It’s what I do for a living. If it were easy to brag about yourself, talk about yourself, self promote, figure out how to market yourself. I wouldn’t have a job and this book wouldn’t exist and be popular. You can start anywhere.

It is a consistent roadmap, but I will also say, so I did over 20 interviews for this book, which was incredibly important to me as a privileged white lady, it not just be about my experiences in my voice. So, there are incredible, mostly women, I allowed one man in there. One very, very successful man in there. Which ranges race, gender, expression, industry, and their experiences of being known and what that means and why that’s uniquely hard and how to navigate it.

So, whether it’s Dream Hampton talking about putting surviving R Kelly out there, or Claire Saffat, who is a viral, she was with Bon Appetit. Now she’s queen of the internet who never intended to be in public. To the one man, David Rubinstein, who built one of the largest, most successful financially businesses that probably exists and how to be effective and how to think about your voice. So, I would say   that’s deeply important to me.  I’ve spent 10 years refining these tactics, but what I’ll say is. What I really wanted for this book is nothing bothers me more when people try to empower people, particularly women, but not only women by saying, be more confident.

 That drives me crazy because I believe that what is empowering and what makes people feel confident is highly specific tactics and practices. So, this is an action oriented book and it is one that is highly, highly specific. So, I’m not going to tell you how to feel, I’m going to tell you what to do, because I don’t think the former works.

Right. And so that’s really what differentiates it from a lot of these. It does toe the line between self-help and a business book. But both are required for the other here and that you examine the stories you’ve been told and the feelings you have, but also like here’s what to do about them.

Meghan Houle: [00:30:32] I love it. It is such a powerful book and, to pivot a little bit to other things that you’re doing and  we can finish off with Brag Better, everyone, don’t worry. We’ll get her for some more advice before we close up, but, you also have this incredible sustainable fashion podcast and, sustainable fashion newsletter.

So, your podcast is It Never Gets Old. And then you have Second Hand Society. So, talk to us a little bit about creating both of those and getting them into the universe and why the topic of sustainable fashion is so important to you right now.?

Meredith Fineman: [00:31:03] Yeah. So, I am an expert in sustainable fashion by way of secondhand resale, vintage, consignment, thrift, pre-loved, whatever you want to call it.

The industry is kind of dealing with how they want to market it and what they want to call it. Each of them means different things, but sometimes they’re interchangeable. I have been furiously buying and selling secondhand clothing since I was 11. I’m now 34 and for a very long time, it was just my number one hobby.

It’s how I learn a city. I’ve made over six figures in the 20 plus years I’ve done this. I consistently make money on my wardrobe.  I wanted people to know that you can, but also that it opens up this whole world. I’m very passionate about secondhand culture when it comes to the small little shops, some of which is being wiped out by like the big tech companies that I am very pro like  Poshmark and the Real Real.

But it was places I felt comfortable when I was young. It was a way for me to feel like I was getting a deal. I was finding treasures. Everything I do is sort of under the umbrella, I guess, of storytelling. So, thinking about where a garment had been and who wore it and you don’t know often, most of the time, 99% of the time.

And then it just became such a part of my life that constantly being asked to look for things, constantly being asked to flip things for people. Being asked about how to wade into this world that I started, It Never Gets Old in the fall of 2018, I don’t know, time is a flat circle. Like time is a flat circle.

I don’t know what time is after the pandemic. And that’s currently on hold because I’m developing a Brag Better podcast and nobody needs like a white lady with two podcasts. So, I’m just going to have one which will be Brag Better for now we’ll see. But I also want to really play to my, strongest form, which is writing.

So, Secondhand Society is a sub stack newsletter. There’s a paid and unpaid that is news on the industry. It is everything I know, like my knowledge I’ve put in way, way more than the 10,000 hours necessary for the knowledge on this stuff. So, I’m imparting it, whether it’s like a deep discussion on fakes and I’m obsessed with the world of replicas and fakes. Or it’s about the history of Chanel and how to find it for less, or it’s about how to even think about beginning to sell your wardrobe. And then the paid one, I’m building a hyper, hyper small, like if you’re a paid member, you can sell stuff to each other, but also finds that I find that I have sourced from all over the country and world over the past two decades. And my links to stuff I’m finding that week. And that’s just been really fun. The sustainable part was not as much of the conversation as it has been. The uptick is insane over the past  three years let’s say. But it is, the most sustainable option. It already exists. The amount of water waste we create in creating clothing, the dangers of fast fashion, it’s an alternative. And it’s a really great one for the planet. It’s better labor practices and the people making the garments. And it also tells brands and other companies, how much consumers really value a more sustainable experience.

And certainly with Gen Z. We sort of lock them all in together, but sustainability and fashion and making those choices is more important to the consumer than ever before. So, the industry has a lot to contend with. But for me, it’s a blood sport. 

Meghan Houle: [00:34:14] Well, I feel like you’re a one stop shop for all things, talking about yourself, going out there, feeling fabulous, and then you can also look fabulous too and get some Chanel. Amen. Meredith. 

Meredith Fineman: [00:34:25] I’ve never, I probably should, but I’ve never built that into my Finepoint practice because I always wanted to be really careful that I didn’t tell people too much about their appearance. 

I mean, I want people to just feel good in whatever they’re wearing and sometimes you have to be wearing certain things. But yeah, I don’t know. I have a lot of different interests and just trying to monetize all of them. 

Meghan Houle: [00:34:48] They’re all so incredible. So, you alluded a little bit with the sustainable fashion, but what is next for Meredith Fineman?

What are you looking to do? Hosting maybe more trainings, new books on the horizon, I know you just mentioned Brag Better podcast, maybe some workbooks. Any potential future speaking engagements as we all get back together, what next? What can we look forward to? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:35:09] So, let’s start with,  I’m working on the Brag Better workbook.

It has not been formally sold to a publisher yet, so stay tuned. But that’s been the number one request and I hesitated with the second you put, I mean, there’s a lot, I could talk about the book industry, but the second you put space in your book, like lines to write something, it actually changes the category of the book and then it becomes a paper product or a journal, and it’s like a totally different thing.

What’s been unbelievable is just the number of people who listened to the book and then buy the physical copies so they can write in it and they can see the exercises. So, a workbook is something I’ve always wanted to do. There’s that, I do a ton of corporate speaking. I speak to a ton of universities and, you can find that on all of my stuff. I’m represented by APB. So if you want me to come to your school or your company, I can do that. But then it’s finally time for me to do some of that more consumer-facing, which is to say that, building a Brag Better e-learning product or series of courses and some masterminds where you can really have access to me.

You can always hire me through Finepoint or an hour of my time, but that’s really important to me because at this point it’s all been pretty much private. So, I would say that and then building out Secondhand Society and if you want to learn more about, that world, that’s a fun place to be too.

Meghan Houle: [00:36:25] And we’ll link everything, especially Secondhand, we’ll put it in our summary on the website and we can talk a little bit more about how to find you, but in parting before we share all your info with listeners, any Brag Better words of advice that you have for us? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:36:41] Yeah. I would say that it’s been a really hard year for everyone.

I feel so incredibly lucky on so many levels that like you can’t try to do too many things at once. This stuff is hard. Everything every one has been through is hard and continues to go through is hard. So, cutting yourself some slack there, which is the most extreme pot and kettle sentiment as someone who holds herself to an impossible standard. But start thinking about these things because they are necessary for your career. You have to advocate for yourself in this way, or at least pretend to, at least fake some of it get and pitching yourself and your work so that people can give you more money, so that people can promote you, so that people can assign you to big projects  get that internship, get that recognition from a professor, depending on like where you are in your life and career listening to this, is what I would say, and it’s hard for everyone.  In the thousands and thousands of people I’ve spoken to in the past 10 years on these topics, there have only been like two women maybe just one who’ve said they don’t need this.

And, it’s very universal. Sometimes the scariest feelings are the most isolating. But everyone has trouble with this. So, that’s not abnormal in the slightest. That’s literally why I do this. 

Meghan Houle: [00:38:02] Well, thank you for that. And for, anyone looking to pivot careers, industries for all the things, I mean, it’s so important to feel really good talking about yourself, about your accomplishments, as you said so beautifully earlier, no one is going to know what you do unless you tell them.  So with that, how can our listeners find you? What are the best ways people can connect with you? 

Meredith Fineman: [00:38:24] Yeah. So, I’m @meredithfineman everywhere. I would say I’m definitely most active on Instagram because that’s where like the memes and the nail art.

Oh yeah. I’m very passionate about nail art and the Brag Better information is you can find Brag Better wherever you get books.  If you want to order from the guy in the sky, the Amazon, you can. Be super grateful if you left an Amazon review really helps the algorithm, even if you didn’t buy it there.

Books are expensive. You can also get it from your local library. I was tickled the other day again, releasing this book in a pandemic means, I mean, the parties will just be delayed. The tour will be delayed. I’m coming to you like don’t you worry. But someone told me that there was a long queue at her library to rent the book, which I’m very happy, but also we need to get more of them, but you can hear me talk it at you, brag-better.com. Okay. Secondhand Society is, I mean, you just kind of Google it, but it’s on Sub Stack and I’m very, find-able on the internet. 

Meghan Houle: [00:39:15] Well thank you for sharing all that. And I cannot also thank you enough for being on this podcast and being on this journey with me and putting this amazing book out into the universe.

I know it truly has helped me and some of my coaching clients that I work with and we really look forward to keeping an eye on all your sustainable fashion, Secondhand Society, the podcast coming up, and I truly praise you for all you’re creating to serve those in our industry and women really feel more confident telling their stories and articulating their value.

So, for all of our listeners, I hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation. Meredith, thanks again for being here, stay tuned for all things coming, Brag Better and for more incredible stories on Pivot with Purpose

FC Podcasts: [00:39:58] Pivot with Purpose with host, Meghan Houle is a Fashion Consort production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corinne. And a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music. Learn more at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 8

Keren Eldad (“Coach Keren”), founder of With Enthusiasm Coaching, is an American personal and executive coach. With a method designed to help the most intense personalities uncover and overcome their blindspots, she is internationally recognized with world-class leaders, high profile athletes and media personalities and major corporations. Among Eldad’s most notable clients are LVMH, Richemont, Luxxotica, Deutsche Bank and Global Fashion Group, whom she serves as well as several individual high-profile clients.

Keren’s work and key research on “The Superstar Paradox” has been featured in numerous media outlets, including The Harvard Business Review, CNBC and Forbes, and her recent Tedx talk, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know,” has been viewed over 200,000 times. She holds gold-standard International Coaching Federation credentials, as well as advanced academic degrees from The London School of Economics and the University of Jerusalem.

Keren lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Ryan, and their four beloved pets:

Cats- Waffles, Moose, Dogs- Noli and Lyla.

Connect with Keren:

Her Website

Her Linkedin

Keren Book Recommendations:

https://jensincero.com/shop/ -You are a BadAss- Jen Sincero

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/29347/why-your-life-sucks-by-alan-cohen/9780553383621- Why your life sucks and what you can do about it- Alan Cohen

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose, a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives, more purposefully, and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Meghan Houle a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Meghan Houle method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:33] Welcome back to Pivot with Purpose, I’m your host, Meghan Houle and in this episode, we talked to Keren Eldad, world-class executive coach and founder of With Enthusiasm coaching program.

FC Podcasts: [00:00:46] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with hosts, Meghan Houle. You can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation.

Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you see to your favorite podcasts. Your support amplifies our voice. And now this week’s episode, 

Meghan Houle: [00:01:19] Coach Keren holds the gold standard International Coaching Federation, ICF credentials, and her executive coaching methods are designed to help the most intense personalities uncover and overcome their blind spots.

She is globally recognized within the world-class leadership community, high profile athletes, media personalities, and major corporations. Coach Keren’s work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the Harvard Business Review, CNBC and Forbes, and her powerful and popular TEDx talk, “You don’t know what you don’t know” has been viewed over 200,000 times, and as a must-watch. Coach Keren Eldad, it is such a wonderful pleasure to have you on the Pivot with Purpose podcast. Thanks for being with us today. 

Keren Eldad: [00:02:08] Thank you, Meghan. Thank you so much for having me. It’s a real honor to be here, especially with you.

Meghan Houle: [00:02:13] Well, I have to preface for all those listening in, that I personally had the pleasure of working with you mid 2020. And although I know you’ll take no credit for this, I feel like this podcast may not have been a reality without my time working with you. So, I am forever grateful for all of your support and your Live With Enthusiasm coaching program. And I cannot wait to share in your story. As I know, you always have amazing wisdom and takeaways.

So, listeners get ready to be inspired. And let’s get this party started. 

Keren Eldad: [00:02:46] I really received that with enormous love and appreciation. You know how I feel about that, which is we’re all in this together. And whatever was supposed to come out of you is supposed to come out of you. And it’s a real joy, just breathtaking joy.

Incomparable joy, really for me to see it live Meghan. The first time I listened to the podcast, I texted you right afterwards. I was literally in tears. I was so happy. This is such a beautiful product, such amazing guests and such good company to be in and it’s a real privilege to be part of your journey.

Meghan Houle: [00:03:15] Oh, thank you so much. And right back at you. And I love that we’ve stayed in touch and I so appreciate, again, all your support and your generous time. And you obviously still are part of my life for sure. 

Keren Eldad: [00:03:26] Forever. Hashtag cat people. 

Meghan Houle: [00:03:29] Ah hashtag cat people!

But let’s get to know you Coach Keren a bit more personally.  We can maybe tell that you enjoy cats, me too! But before just diving into your pivot journey, let’s talk about what you’re loving in life right now. 

Keren Eldad: [00:03:42] Oh, man. This is a very good day to talk about that because I just got off a plane. I was in Costa Rica for the last week, and it was just an impromptu last minute, wonderful getaway, which is such an important thing for everyone to do because it focuses you on what really matters in life. And that is, the enjoyment of this life, this air, the nature around us, the incredible infinity of the sea.

And I know that that sounds cheesy as heck, but I have been working so hard. I know you have too, I know so many people out there have too, and sometimes just taking a rest and remembering what it’s all for is what I feel most invigorated by. It’s funny because I was just rereading a classic Meghan that you and I both love, “Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It” by Alan Cohen.

It’s an incredible book. Everybody get over the title, just read it. About how we give our power away. And I feel very invigorated by taking my power back. And one of those acts that we can all take is just take any, any moment for clarity, for time off, for vacation, for rest.  That’s pretty much  where you’re finding me today.

Meghan Houle: [00:04:51] I feel like we all forget that thrusting ourselves through 2020, keeping it moving and trying to stay productive, not necessarily having those vacations  or having to step away for whatever it is. For me, it was like trying to get outside, take a walk, take a breath.

What’s that quote that says everything works again when you unplug it, plug it back in just like our computers, we have to unplug. 

Keren Eldad: [00:05:16] No, it’s true. But the quote that, that resonates with me most when I was thinking about this and just decided to book this vacation, incredibly inappropriate and reckless vacation, in the midst of all of this was because I read that Lily Tomlin, the best friend of Jane Fonda, once said that the thing about the rat races at the end of it, you’re still a rat and that’s kind of the point we want to pivot. And we want to talk about pivoting for freedom, not to become a better slave, for freedom. And that’s a wonderful place I think, to start today’s conversation. 

Meghan Houle: [00:05:48] Absolutely. Well, and as you and I share a career connection, really coming from luxury in the retail industry.

 We would love to hear more about your career journey and what led to the desire to career pivot and all that you’ve created now with your amazing Live With Enthusiasm Coaching offerings.  Where does your career story begin? 

Keren Eldad: [00:06:06] My second career story began in a very, very fortuitous way, you see, I got super lucky.

My whole world collapsed. I lost everything. Now, I don’t recommend this because most people don’t love going through trauma as you know, Meghan, but unfortunately many of us do find ourselves in that right now, don’t we? 2020, kind of a garbage year. A lot of people, not enjoying it, seeing the retail luxury landscape scape, slip away.

This is not true by the way for everyone. I have the privilege as you know of coaching, several very large high profile companies like Bottega Veneta and Luxottica, and our good friends at Estee Lauder, et cetera. And then they’re still, you know,, they’re banging, they’re printing money.

Especially in the last year, but it’s not been the case for everybody. And I was in exactly, such a storm six years ago, hard to believe it’s only been six years, but it was, I went through a divorce in perfect harmony. All of my stuff burned down in a fire and I lost my job, well I was really just pivoting, cause I was getting out of a job and into a new job cause I moved cities, after the divorce, this happens to a lot of people and I couldn’t find a job for more than six months. Which I definitely had not prepared for financially. So, here I am in my mid to late thirties at that point. I was 36 years old, I was sleeping on friends couches. I couldn’t find a job. I went on interview after interview, after interview for which I was like eminently overqualified. The salaries were not where I was used to. The industry was definitely pivoting and this is when I started to think. I don’t know that regurgitating, the old path is going to work anymore.

I got to think differently. And this is when I begin to consider what you considered last year, Meghan, which was probably the unthinkable, coaching, isn’t that something that only weirdos do who are hippies, who buy crystals? 

Meghan Houle: [00:08:09] Or everybody thinks they’re a coach! 

Keren Eldad: [00:08:11] Or everybody thinks they’re a coach, exactly. I mean, you and I share this, I can’t tell you how proud I am for the ICF accreditation for taking this seriously because and you know I have an MCC, I just don’t trade on it because it doesn’t really matter unless you’re coaching other coaches, but it’s so important.

It’s just so unbelievably important work because it changed my life. Forget about, I mean, I I’ve now had the privilege of coaching more than 500 people individually and it’s breathtaking work, but I remember what it did for my life to start reaching for books, like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

And “You are a Bad-ass” by Jen Sincero, and really understanding them and being walked through my own blind spots so that I could start thinking differently. My whole world changed. And in, so doing, it started to click. It was the same thing that happened for you, which was, I started to become aware of an entire industry that could capitalize on all of my strengths.

And none of the things I didn’t like to do. And that’s where I just kinda got a hunch that this might be something I wanted to really take seriously and do for a living. That’s the story of the pivot and I’ll talk to you about step-by-step a little bit further down the line so that people can understand what pivots are made of and also what they might look like for them, because they’re not the same for everybody.

But the best way to state what happened to me was actually today I was speaking to my trainer. Yes. I have a trainer I’m getting married in six months. I got to lose some weight. I want to lose some weight. He told me that he used to work for Victoria Secret. He started out in retail and then he got up and up and up the ladder and got promoted again and again and again, but he didn’t really like the job.

He just went for the next promotion, the next promotion cause he was already stuck in a track. Right? Until one day he realized that people were asking him all the time about his workout routine. Cause he was really, really into working out and that he was readily giving them advice and more than happy to join them at the gym.

And that’s when he had an epiphany. “What if I could trade my good nature and openness towards other human beings, which I’m obviously practicing and retail and also marry it with my affinity for coaching people as a trainer?”. Turns out, he makes three times as much doing that. It’s less effort. It’s more fun and it’s way more aligned with who he is in his being.

And that’s kind of how he clicked into it too. It’s very similar to what I found and I think is very similar to what you found in your pivot. It’s not like we were looking for anything, right? It’s like the path kind of just revealed itself by walking in the direction of what you care about. 

Meghan Houle: [00:10:41] I love that.

And you speak so beautifully within your community about, and I know you’ve really helped me on this too. And just as you were saying about finding that why and your purpose as you navigate through life, which is the heart of this podcast. What would you say to somebody right now struggling to maybe identify what they want to do next and having a hard time articulating their why?

Keren Eldad: [00:11:03] Yeah. So, many people make such a big, hairy deal out of the word purpose, right? Cause it’s a big word. For many people it’s wrapped up in legacy calling, it’s as if they expect to, you know, like Martin Luther King, wake up and say, “I had a dream!”. Well, I like to say this in a lot of my talks about pivoting in particular.

I did not have a dream. Meghan, I don’t know that you did either. I think you just knew that whatever it was that you were going for in life was not hitting the potential mark. That you were not waking up on purpose, on purpose, not for purpose. And to do that, you really have to reframe pivoting for purpose to pivoting towards your preferences.

Preferences are a much simpler word than purpose. Most of us will hear the word preferences and automatically know what ours are. And I promise you, even if you think you don’t really know what you do love because so many people say to me, I’m tripped up, I don’t know what I really like to do. I don’t know what I’m actually good at.

Well, first of all, there are assessments for that, they can save you a lot of time, but also you definitely know what you don’t want. Am I right? Anybody listening here, anybody listening here today knows they don’t like to be at the mercy of a job that is volatile. Anybody listening knows whether they like to work in a team or whether they prefer to work alone, which means they don’t like one of those.

Most people know whether they’re dog people or cat people or both. We know what we don’t like, and the more you are clear about what you don’t like, the more you will become clear about what you do like. So, the first exercise that I would recommend for anybody who’s searching through their purpose, really trying to clarify the path ahead, trying to do what I did, what my trainer, Zeke did, what Meghan did, is write down, what do I not like? Do I not like not having control of my time? Do I not like hanging around the house in a bathrobe? Do I not like aimlessness? Do I enjoy therefore projects? And then you can really start to understand or feel for what you do want, what you do like. Which is very different from what you don’t want.

Just try it, try it, try writing 10 things you don’t like or 10 things that you do like, and feeling for the opposite. And you’re going to gain some clarity right there. 

Meghan Houle: [00:13:17] Making lists  it’s such a powerful exercise and you just have to do it. Right? I think that that’s a lot of the missteps is someone, , really hoping that they get signs from the universe and sometimes those happen, but we have to do that deep work on ourselves and really get to the core of what makes us happy. 

Keren Eldad: [00:13:34] It’s true. And I have to tell you though, I don’t know that it just happens. I know some people have had an epiphany, but like, let’s think about Mark Zuckerberg for a second. I don’t like thinking about Mark Zuckerberg, but sometimes he’s a good example.

Zuckerberg, didn’t start out thinking about Facebook, connecting everyone to everyone else on the planet. He started out with an idea to rank people, whether they’re hot or they’re not at Harvard. Right. Right? And it evolved and evolved and evolved and evolved and evolved. The point is when you chase one real thing that you feel like doing, the next natural thing you feel like doing, it will evolve to the next and the next and the next and the next. When I started this business, I did not have the luxury of just starting a business. Let’s have some fun and just become a coach and see what happens. That was not my privilege because as I mentioned, I had just gotten divorced. My stuff had burned down and I was really bad with money.

So, I had like 37 bucks and cruising and feeling things out was not an option. So, what I did was I hedged my bets. This is the second method I’m going to teach you. In addition to sitting down and really thinking or getting clear about what you don’t want or what you do want, start identifying what you can do to hedge your bets.

If you are not in a very strong, independent financial position. And most people are not, there’s no shame in that. We’re young, we’re awesome, we’ve got time. Why don’t you find an anchor job, consulting jobs that can trade on previous experience, anything that’s more of a low hanging fruit? And from there branch out to one or two additional things that you think you might be able to dabble in as a side hustle until one of them will gather momentum.

For example, what I did in the initial stages of my business was, the first thing I secured a consulting contract with a luxury brand, doing what I knew how to do, which was marketing and business development. And that allowed me to have the freedom, meaning not worry about your rent while I launched a coaching program, tried it out. And while I also, by the way, got a real estate license, just in case. Cause I’m pretty good with people and I sure love real estate. Do you love real estate, Meghan? Oh yeah. Oh my gosh. I could watch Arch Digest Videos. 

Meghan Houle: [00:15:43] I know all my Pinterest boards. 

Keren Eldad: [00:15:47] Real estate porn, but yeah. So, I do all three things.

And what happens is within a year, coaching has picked up so much momentum that it was just the natural thing to do, right? But I hedged my bets until then, until I was really on solid ground. I was still straddling and that’s okay. There’s no shame in that either. That’s what purpose is all about. 

Meghan Houle: [00:16:08] Well, tell us more. I would love to talk about pivoting into executive coaching to create Live With Enthusiasm. Which is such an amazing transformational program. Was it a realization of a personal need to get more alignment in your career or do you feel like it was really related to something else? Talk a little bit about that pivot. 

Keren Eldad: [00:16:28] Well I love this question, because I hope that many people who are aspiring coaches listen in, or anyone who is really trying to become a thought leader is listening in. The first thought that I had was I really have more power than I’m exemplifying in the corporate jobs that I’ve taken.

And I was a C-suite executive. So, you’d think that I was pretty accomplished and pretty free, but I really felt not free. And I thought I could be more prominent. So, the first thing I was looking for was prominence. And when I started this out, I think I really saw myself a little bit as becoming kind of a Marie Forleo figure, a bubbly media personality, who’s blessed of fantastic gift of gab and who really speaks for a living. With time I recognize that when I wrote this program, I was writing it for my former self to heal. To help myself with my former set of problems and with my upcoming set of problems, right, as I was going along. And so doing, I discovered what I was focused on, which was really the powers of overachieving and the problems that come with overachieving.

That’s my personality type, my behavioral style, very similar to yours. Meghan. We’re doers, we’re focusers, we’re fast. Nobody needs to teach us more of how to do. But we do need to learn how to rely on our feelings and how to think differently, how to solve our thinking rather than our problems. That’s how Live With Enthusiasm came about.

But also how I discovered that what I really want to do is serve the teams I once worked for. And so the first team I coached as an Executive Coach was IWC. I used to work for them. I was their marketing director. And from there several other brands under the Richemont umbrella for those familiar, with luxury groups, Richemont and LVMH are very large, like Kering.

And then from there, LVMH, and then I started to branch out into financial institutions and tech companies like Sierraconstellation Partners and Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. And today, 8 out of 12 clients are big corporations and that’s a real joy because I get to teach people. And I mean this in the nicest way, how to not be an asshole and how to be 10 times more effective.

And I think that’s what I was looking for, primarily, ease and fun at work and collaboration and teamwork. Rather than  ever nagging anxiety and worry and ass covering, an invulnerability that you see in so many teams today. That was the evolution I basically started with very, very general focus, a general desire. And I became very, very narrow in who I served by recognizing who I am, really. 

Meghan Houle: [00:19:04] Thank you for sharing. Now it makes so much sense. Just seeing how your programs I’m like this is Keren’s journey and it’s why you’re amazing at what you do. 

Keren Eldad: [00:19:11] You could see the evolution, like we went from Live With Enthusiasm, Date With Enthusiasm, and then all of a sudden you see Lead With Enthusiasm enterprise. Corner office coaching, right? And it’s really just the process of self discovery. What I learned, and this is such an important principle for anybody out there who’s really, again, becoming a thought leader of any sort or a coach is this, and I know you’ve heard me say this, if you serve everyone, you serve no one, you cannot be a jack of all trades.

Everybody thinks in their media personality, aspirations, and we all have a little bit of that in the Instagram world, that you are going to be liked by everyone. You’re going to appeal to everyone. This is absolutely not true. First of all, and there’s nothing wrong with it. As a matter of fact, it’s a huge asset to know who you are and who you resonate with, who the message is for.

Meghan Houle: [00:19:59] 100%. And I love that you just brought that up because I agree. I think in this world, especially with all the social and everything going on, we still want to be liked and I have to remind myself too, like I’m not for everybody and that’s okay. I don’t want to be for everybody. Find your tribe, you find your community, you find the people that resonate with you and they just fearlessly support you and you can really tailor your messaging and your program. So, thank you so much for bringing up that point. And in the spirit of our podcast, teaser here, to tease with a little yes or no question, and then we go to a break. So, are you ready? Are you ready? Yes or no.

Okay. So, yes or no. Do you remember the exact moment you decided to go for it to pivot into executive coaching? 

Keren Eldad: [00:20:43] Yes. 

Meghan Houle: [00:20:44] And with that, we’ll take a quick break and we’ll pick this up when we get back.

Okay. Coach Keren before the break, you said yes. So, tell us what that pivot looked like for you and what really has been the outcome of pivoting to build your Live With Enthusiasm coaching programs. How has it changed your life? 

Keren Eldad: [00:21:16] That moment that I decided to create live With Enthusiasm, the original program, the original BIG is a moment.

I’ll never forget my whole life because nothing happened suddenly, like everything gathers momentum, obviously, but there’s always like that one moment, right? Where a light switch goes off. And for me, it happened to coincide with a terrible tragedy in my life. After what I told you about the divorce and then not having a job for a really long time and a fire, which burned down all of my beautiful, beautiful things.

Unfortunately, within the same two weeks, both of my cats died NASDAQ and Starbucks. God rest their soul. I know because they were heartbroken, one died and then the other one died immediately afterward. And it was such a horrible thing for me to go through that I decided to do something I’d never done before, which was take a really long break, which I couldn’t really afford to do.

But I also think I couldn’t afford not to do because grief knocks you out, right. Grief really brings you to your knees. So, I called up a friend who had a really big house in the Hamptons and wouldn’t mind me staying there cause they wouldn’t even notice, right? And said, do you mind if I just hang out there for a couple of weeks until I feel better?

And they were like more than happy to do that for me. And there was a moment on day, like three by the pool where I was cried out, man. I had just sobbed myself to sleep for a really long period. And I remember looking at the pool and realizing for a second that everything was okay. Everything was okay.

For better or worse I couldn’t look down anymore. There was just nothing more I could do. And the only thing I could do was therefore look up and it was just then and there where I thought, I think that I’d like to do something like what Jen Sincero has done for me. What Stephen R. Covey has done for me.

I think I’d like to start taking coaching very seriously. And see if I can put together a program for other people who are like me, they do everything right. And they just don’t get what they’re doing wrong. They have to produce a shift. And that was the beginning of the climb. Within six months, I had that first program, it sold out on one day and it’s been an amazing four years since then.

Meghan Houle: [00:23:36] Yeah. Well, I know all so well, but describe what it’s like working with Coach Keren. What can you expect? I know you coach all different types of amazing people and you have such great clients and stories, but what’s it like working with you?

Keren Eldad: [00:23:51] I imagine it’s very similar to working with you, my good friend. 

Meghan Houle: [00:23:54] Maybe talk to me in four years. 

Keren Eldad: [00:23:57] I think so. And I’ll tell you why, we’re both very talkative and natural teachers. Teachers are not going to be very ICF by the book coaches, right? We’re going to be didactic. We are going to teach you and spend a lot of time, really, really talking you through things until we get that you have clicked with it.

You understand, you don’t just intellectually understand. You have emotionally shifted around the concept. And you will therefore start doing things differently. Your behaviors are going to change. No, but everybody understands for example, that if you eat less, you’ll lose weight, right, mostly, but nobody understands how to sustain that.

And that really comes down to looking at life very differently at valuing things very differently. And that’s what coaching is all about with me. And I’m sure with you too, it’s a didactic process. It’s intense. It’s very high energy. And within 10 weeks, you know everything, I know, go get them, go start empires.

Just like Meghan. That’s really the secret sauce of this program. The three key, I think, differentiators are the first thing is coaching doesn’t look backwards very much as you know, Meghan. I’m sure it’s very interesting to find out how you grew up and what experiences you had in childhood around the formation of limiting beliefs.

But it’s not particularly useful to coaching because we’re looking forward, not backwards. The second thing is that it is a very labor intensive process. So, you have to be prepared to dedicate an extra hour of work by yourself, self study, videos, audios, and whatever I throw at you in between sessions.

And the third is it’s finite. We don’t get to stay together forever. That’s kind of sad, but like me and Meghan, hopefully we continue to stay connected in every way that we can, because we are in this together. 

Meghan Houle: [00:25:42] Why do you think coaching is such a valuable personal investment?

Keren Eldad: [00:25:45] Why don’t you answer that question yourself? 

Meghan Houle: [00:25:47] Here I am folks. 

Keren Eldad: [00:25:50] Literally. That’s literally the answer. 

Meghan Houle: [00:25:53] It’s an investment. 

Keren Eldad: [00:25:54] It’s an investment in yourself which pays with dividends. It’s a ridiculous thing to think of it as an expense.

I know that today, cause I remember the first coach I ever forked over $7,500 for the first coach I ever paid. Today, I pay much more for coaches. I thought it was an extravagance and I was about to embark upon some kind of a naval-gazing expedition that may or may not result in any change. Today I know that everything in my world has changed. There is literally no measure for what I got out of coaching. I’ll give you a couple of examples. The first is I have an empire, literally. I have a very large and growing the business that is moving fast, that now employs three people. And that for me is something I never dare to dream of a few years ago. The audacity to do that, the confidence, the leverage are all from coaching. The second is my relationship is very different. I was before in an abusive and sad relationship, a divorce I talk about all over the world in many podcasts, just like this one. And today I’m in an easy, happy, wonderful, loving, unconditional relationship with the nicest man in the whole world who also likes cats.

I don’t think there’s a price for that. There is just no price for understanding your blind spots and overcoming them in relationships. And my relationships with others are just much easier and more comfortable. I’m more comfortable with myself. I don’t have anxious thought anymore. So, if you’re thinking the tit for tat, you know what, it’s kind of like that old MasterCard commercial, what you get out of coaching, priceless.

Meghan Houle: [00:27:28] It’s so true. And to piggyback on that, for anyone listening as I started off my first episode, talking about my journey with a lot of your support, but doing the hard work on myself too, I certainly feel like I found my voice. I feel more ease. I feel confident in speaking up and being able to truly help others.

And just getting really, really excited about it, where pivoting to my next question, a lot of us have this negative mindset that we sit in, where we’re frustrated with all the actions that we’re taking to try to find a new career pivot are just not working.

We’re not getting noticed no one’s ever gonna hire me. It can be a dangerous place to be. So, what would you say to someone sitting in that mindset and really maybe a few tips on how they can work through some of that. 

Keren Eldad: [00:28:16] Well, what’s you’re talking about is very valuable, Meghan, because it’s one of the things that stop us before we even start.

And it’s a face of imposter syndrome. Many people are familiar with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern that shows up in spite of any evidence that you have to, how much you’re rocking life. You still feel like you’re a fraud. You still feel like you’re going to be discovered or the other shoe’s going to drop any minute now.

And that creates a form of defeatism, right? Like why would I even try? I’m not gonna make it anyway. This doesn’t work. Hasn’t worked for my neighbor, Snoopy and therefore, I wouldn’t even attempt it. I’ve tried all of these other things in the past. So why try this? Why would this change or be different?

Right? All forms of defeatism are similar because they’re rooted in insecurity. And the thing is, I hope everybody can start to identify those thoughts as not you, they’re just thoughts. You’re the one thinking them, but they’re not who you are. And if you start to understand that. You’ll begin a mindfulness practice, that sort of goes like this.

Do I prefer to think that I am useless and will never succeed at anything, or to remember that I actually have done a couple of things in my life? Would I rather try something at least, and then fail or rely on garbage from the past that I have absolutely no control over, which may or may not be true?

Would I rather have fun and just see where this goes or be confused ornery and prove to everyone how smart I am by not even trying? You’ll ask yourself questions like this and notice two things. The first is, again, the thought is not thinking you, you’re the one thinking of the thoughts. You’ll be able to litigate them a little bit.

And number two, you’re much more likely to get closer to who you really are. A frisky excited trier of things. A person who might as well give it a shot. That’s kind of where, all of this is going. This is when we start to really discover our preferences, get clear on our voice, as Meghan said, and the privilege of a lifetime as Carl Jung said, is, is to become who we really are.

That’s where all of this exploration is leading. Who you are, is not the scaredy cat who’s terrified of losing their stable 9 to 5 job, which is not stable to begin with. Who you really are as a person whose capable of a lot of different things and can figure it out, period. 

Meghan Houle: [00:30:42] What do you feel like right now is some of the biggest issues we’re facing in America when it pertains to the current workforce?

Keren Eldad: [00:30:49] I believe that the number one problem facing the workforce today is the mass exodus of women, in particular minorities, by the way, are much more greatly affected in September more than 900,000 women left the workforce to only about 250,000 men.

And that trend has continued over the last six months. This is not a small trend. It’s not just 900,000 people you get to ignore it. This has set us back to the ’80s, ’80s level participation in the workforce for women, ’80s levels. Meghan, you remember the movie working girl. Okay. So, that’s where we are again.

And this is absolutely banana pants. It’s intolerable. It’s terrible for diversity. It’s terrible for society. Now, listen, I want you to know that I care about this on a collective level. If one individual person said to me, Keren, listen, I got to quit the workforce because I’m making an economic calculation here and I’d rather stay home with my kids.

Okay, fine. I wouldn’t flinch, but when 900,000 make the same decision in the same month and that trend continues. I gotta be honest with you. I don’t think staying home with your kids is that popular. Right? I also don’t think that for most people, for the vast majority of people work is just about a paycheck for the vast majority of people, today in the era of self actualization in the era of Instagram and the era of I can and I will, it’s about really going for your potential. It’s about self-actualization in this lifetime. And to give that up is, man, that is a big matza ball to give up. So, I care enormously about that. That’s when I started to pivot and talk about imposter syndrome, I started speaking more about women’s empowerment.

Women’s empires, women pivoting their career. Which was not common for me before I coached 50% men, 50% women. The balance is slightly more skewed now, but I’ve definitely giving more and more talks to specifically say, to all the women out there you can, you will, and I’ll help you. 

Meghan Houle: [00:32:51] Yeah.  And what words of advice for  a woman listening in really wanting to make that career pivot and not knowing where to start? 

Keren Eldad: [00:32:59] Read, read.

Listen to podcasts like these, obviously. But read, read You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. Read You are a Badass at Making Money without shame on an airplane for all, to see. Read, read Why your Life Sucks and What you can do About it by Alan Cohen. I hope you put these in the show notes. Read, get inspired.

Remember who you are. 

Meghan Houle: [00:33:22] We definitely will put those books absolutely you’ve helped me through those recommendations. We will get them in there for everybody to easily link and find. I have to tell you,  rewind to April, May of last year, Coach Keren’s podcast was like, my ,”I’m going to lay down and feel good moment.”. Even before meeting you I remember seeing your lovely face in our webinars, I think with Industrious and telling the Soul Cycle story, and I’m like, “Oh my God, I need to know this woman!”. And just looking forward to your incredible podcast where I would sit and lay in my bed with the cats around me and shake my head, yes, yes. So, with that, I know you’re the host of this incredible insightful podcast with Coach Keren.  Talk a little bit about your podcast and some of the topics you’re talking about now is I feel like they’re so powerful.

And how can our listeners get involved? Cause I know you do some really fun things on your podcast.   

Keren Eldad: [00:34:08] Well thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it. Coached is a podcast that I modeled after my favorite TV show, Frasier. Which is by the way, getting a reboot, it was officially confirmed last week. I’m super excited about it.

I know the 90s had their own hallmarks. I’m sure they’ll correct all their social ills, but the program was legit funny and it’s where I just answer caller’s questions. And in the new format, I get to answer them in greater detail. And I also get to work with additional perspectives of thought leaders and experts to enhance or add more flavor and dimension to the answers that I give, two callers questions. The topics that I’m interested in this year and the full season has already gone live and it’s going through the end of the year are as practical as they get. For example, how to stop working all the time. This is just a garbage existence. I love that word by the way, garbage as I’m sure you’ve noticed (trash fire dumpster fire,) and it’s something that affects me too, workaholism.

So, I tackle that how to get away from imposter syndrome, how to stop being so impatient, how to get out of doubt and get into a life that actually feels good to you. They’re super, super practical. How to find work-life balance in a world where these are both discouraged. So. I hope that everyone listening in hears in the caller’s questions, their own questions, and they hear in the answers. Answers to questions they themselves have been pondering. That’s the whole point of a format like Coached. It’s to always contain or hold a message that will resonate universally with a lot of people and to bring people some hope. 

Meghan Houle: [00:35:45] I know you’re so generous with your time outside the podcast, as well with your many webinars and talks that you host so many things you’re involved in.

 How can our listeners find you and stay in touch with, with Coach Keren and what’s on your docket? 

Keren Eldad: [00:35:58] I am on Tiktok. Yes, I am. I’m on Tiktok, I’m on Twitter.

I’m on everything. I just care about Instagram though. That’s my medium. I really love posting memes and pictures every now and again, a picture of my cats, Waffles and Moose, the greatest cats ever. Twin souls with your cats, their cousins, and that’s the best place, because you’ll always get an update a few days before a webinar goes live, or a talk goes live, or a new episode of Coached hits the airwaves.

And hopefully that’ll be a great way to stay in touch and for everybody to get connected to a wealth of resources and tips for free. 

Meghan Houle: [00:36:34] Very valuable information that Keren like you said so generously shares and in closing as I know how important this is, when we talk about it so much in this podcast for a network of support for others in this process of pivoting evolving, changing, going through hard times, you told stories of how you leverage your connections and people that loved you in your life to kind of get you through. How important do you feel like it is to have a great circle of support around you going through the process? And if people don’t feel like they have that where can somebody reach out and find some support?

Keren Eldad: [00:37:09] Well, I think it’s everything. I think it’s everything on two levels. I believe that the reason we need relationships and a support system around us is because no one who has ever done anything ever even the most basic to the greatest has done so alone. We really lean on the shoulders of others.

Everything we can create will be created better. And much larger with the support of others and what are others than really a supportive other people who trust you and support you. Now you can do this in two ways. The first is by formenting longstanding friendships and the best way to do that. Guess what? Is be a good friend.

Be generous with your time. Show up for people. Somebody’s parent dies, show up for them. Somebody needs a happy birthday hug. Give them the happy birthday hug. Remember those things, be a good friend and you will have good friends. And the second is get mentors. Mentors can include coaches in the beginning of my career.

I did not have a network of people who are super high vibe, especially not about money and creating big things. So, I started hanging out with other coaches and guess what? There are lots of other freaks at the show and they will be very happy to play with you, but you can also go for just mentors who are successful in any dimension.

You want to get married? Find a really happily married couple who is super generous with their home. You want to really create a big business? Hang out with people who actually have created a big business. And that’s because all forms of success leave, clues. And , we’re like monkeys monkey, see monkey do. You will watch people and you will grow through them.

And that is what all of this is about. We are so interconnected and we’re all expanding each other. 

Meghan Houle: [00:38:54] So, true. Wow. So, powerful. Find people that you admire.

What do you admire about them? Surround yourself with those high vibe people and get your feel good moments going. And it’s just so important to have amazing people in our lives. And with that, I’m so grateful for you. And I hope that listeners listened to this podcast multiple times, cause Keren spit out a lot of wonderful suggestions and comments. 

Keren Eldad: [00:39:16] I hope so too. I want to say one more thing actually, that just came to my head, that’s super important. This is why also jealousy is not a thing and should never be a thing in anybody’s life. If you accept that we will learn from everybody.

And that we’re all in this together because we are exponentially better with other people. And seeing another person be super successful, should not make you feel jealous of their success. It should indicate to you that it’s possible to you. Yeah, this is why people like us like me, like Meghan, teach. We don’t think that you’ve shining in the spotlight is a problem.

We actually think. Yay, good. There’s a lot of room here. Come on over. That’s why I also don’t accept that there is such a thing as lonely at the top. I believe that you can be a lonely person who ends up at the top, but if your thought habits are of collaboration, probably not going to get there by yourself.

Meghan Houle: [00:40:06] Absolutely. And in a space where it seems crowded or noisy via everyone’s a coach or 7,000 people are applying to the same job at the end of the day. No one is you and embrace your uniqueness because Coach Keren and I sure the heck do.

Keren Eldad: [00:40:21] That’s exactly right. 

Meghan Houle: [00:40:24] Well, thank you so much for this conversation and for sharing all of your incredible pivots and we will absolutely put all of the wonderful ways that you can connect with Coach Keren via her various channels and look forward to staying in touch and all that you do.

And thank you so much for all your time today. 

Keren Eldad: [00:40:40] Thank you, Meghan. It was a genuine privilege. Keep doing what you’re doing. I wish you enormous continued success. 

FC Podcasts: [00:40:47] Pivot with Purpose with host, Meghan Houle, is a Fashion Concert production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corinne and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music, learn more at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 7

Throughout Sandra’s career, she has built global lifestyle brands and has been instrumental in turnarounds, digital innovation, cultural marketing, and international expansion.

With her extensive experience in retail and fashion, she was appointed CEO of Project Verte, a retail tech and supply chain company whose solutions are operator built, cloud native, and ecommerce enriching. Firmly believing that digital acceleration is a strategic necessity, her leadership focuses on customer-centered, agile technology that simplifies scaling across demand channels and distributed logistics including order management and warehouse management SaaS solutions.

As the former CEO of Diane Von Furstenberg, Sandra is known to be an innovator whose focus on the implementation of Omni-channel and unified commerce strategies enhance the consumer experience and make a significant impact to topline revenues. At DVF, she introduced community building marketing initiatives, established collaborations with female founded brands, and promoted the “In Charge” mission throughout every consumer touchpoint.

Connect with Sandra:

https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-fashion-launchpad/about/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandracamposnyc/

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose, a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives more purposefully and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Megan Houle, a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Megan Houle method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:31] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host, Meghan Houle. And in this episode, we talk to Sandra Campos, former CEO of Diane Von Furstenberg. And founder of Fashion Launchpad a digital continuing education platform led by top thought leaders for fashion and retail industries.

FC Podcasts: [00:00:50] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host, Megan Houle. You can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Your support amplifies our voice. And now this week’s episode. 

Meghan Houle: [00:01:22] Throughout her 25 year career, Sandra has been instrumental in restructuring iconic global brands, such as Juicy Couture and BCBG to name a few. Sandra is also a frequent keynote speaker on topics ranging from innovation and retail, leadership and diversity in the workplace.

And has been named one of the top 100 Latina leaders, a 2020 top woman in retail and was honored by Girls, Inc. Sandra Campos, I am so looking forward to our conversation, welcome to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. 

Sandra Campos: [00:01:54] Hi, Meghan. Thank you so much for having me and congratulations to you on this podcast. It’s very exciting. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:01] Thank you so much, and I am so honored that you are here, and I know we have so many good nuggets to share, so I can’t wait to hear more about your impressive career journey and all that you’re working on with Fashion Launchpad, which we will certainly dive into later in the conversation, but to start, I would love to get to know you and maybe some of your passions beyond your work projects right now. Knowing we’re all still spending our time working from home, maintaining this environment, what are you loving to do right now in your free time? 

Sandra Campos: [00:02:32] Wow. Well, first of all, you’re talking to somebody who loves to work. So, a lot my free time is spent doing things that ultimately will help me in my work. So, whether that has to do with reading or connecting or learning new type of skills. I believe in lifelong education and being a lifelong learner. So, I’m constantly trying to do that and keep up with trends, there’s so much that goes on. There’s so much newness happening from a tech standpoint, across retail, with new consumer products. And I just try to really stay on top of all that. I do have a life though, outside of it, outside of everything work.

And I do have three kids as well as I have a horse farm where I rescue horses. So, I’m very passionate about doing that. I’m passionate about my kids, obviously, but I am passionate about helping to save horses who are on their way and slaughter bound. 

Meghan Houle: [00:03:24] I’m such an animal lover and a horse lover as well. So, that’s really special.  Thank you for sharing that. And I would love for you to tell us a little bit about your career, maybe sharing some important career highlights as we talk through some of your pivots and all that you’re working on as well, so can you share maybe a few things you’re really proud of career to date? 

Sandra Campos: [00:03:46] Oh, wow. Thank you for that question because it’s obviously one that makes me really think, partly because of my number of years in the industry, but I’ve had exposure to a lot of different parts of the industry. And I think in every single company that I’ve been a part of, I’ve learned a great deal, but some have stood out more than others just because of the timing. So, in one area, I would say that I had my, first kind of corporate role in which I felt the sisterhood, let’s say, of women really helping to support one another and women who learned and who were hungry and who wanted to grow in their careers. I was at Donna Karan, when we were launching the DKNY  divisions. And that was something that all the women that worked there, we were in sales.

We were young, we were hungry. Literally everyone there grew to do different things. And it was so exciting to watch them through the years, whether it was Bridget Klein who ran Tory Burch and did that for 10 years. And then, whether it was Paula Sutter, who was the CEO of  Diane Von Furstenberg who took that over for 10 years and Stephanie Greenfield who launched Scoop and was instrumental in so many different ways from contemporary fashion. And Abby Held who actually built out Quba accessories and then sold that business. So, there’s just so many amazing parts of that company that I still think about to this day.

And I hope that young professionals get that experience to be able to have a group of people that they associate with for the rest of their careers, that they actually, can be inspired by still. And it’s still something that inspires me every day. So, that’s one that I would say stands out because we were learning, but we were really hungry.

And I think when you’re hungry for curiosity of the future and curiosity of, your industry and trying to learn everything about it, it’s just a really dynamic type of situation. The next thing I would say is because I’ve also had corporate experience, but I’ve also had entrepreneurial experience.

And in each of my entrepreneurial situations, I’ve learned a great deal as well. But the one that I highlight and I do it because it was at the time that everything was changing. It was my business partner, Tony Melillo, and I, we created a company called Cynosure Holdings and Cynosure Holdings was a celebrity brand management company.

We went to CAA and we had an idea and we said, here’s what we want to do. And they said, great. Who do you want to do it with? And we said, we want Selena Gomez. She was 15 years old. We went and met with her and her family. We had a business that was ongoing for six years with her. We were exclusive at the time with Kmart in the States for five years, it was a brand called Dream Out Loud by Selena Gomez.

We had 14 different licensees of different product categories. We sold it to six different countries outside the US and it was in 2009, is when we launched it. So, it was right after the big 2008, that scary 2008, that nobody knew it was going to happen. It was right when things were starting to unfold, at the time Airbnb hadn’t launched it, Instagram hadn’t launched yet.

There was only Facebook. So, learning from Selena who, while she was 15, 16 years old, when we were starting was very authentic, was very genuine, was very focused on her audience. And I learned a lot about audience engagement. I learned a lot from her, even at the time about, and her family who was working with her, about being able to really be true to yourself about making sure that, the message was consistent and marketing wasn’t marketing as much as it was really being true to yourself. And so learning and understanding, audience engagement, understanding youth culture and marketing around youth culture. And this was also the time when e-commerce started becoming important. So, we were starting at that point in time to get involved, and we had the first shop to shop on Kmart.com and we’re able to get involved with that aspect of it as well. So, 10 years, 12 years later now, if you look at where we are today, it’s just night and day, business has changed so dramatically. And in each one of my situations, as I said, I’ve, learned so many great things, but certainly being the CEO of Diane Von Furstenberg because of Diane and who she is.

And because it was really about a purpose and finding a company to be a part of that was there for a mission. And the mission was to empower women and to really help celebrate women and help them feel confident in all that they do. And do that through, not only the clothing and the products that we sold, but also through the community that we’re building and the woman in charge, mission and mantra, and all of that was extraordinarily exciting for me. And I loved, that mission and, still love the mission. And I’m very focused on helping, not only women, but also minorities, of which I’m one, to be able to find their voice and to gain knowledge so that they can actually have more confidence regardless of what room you’re in.

Meghan Houle: [00:08:34] I feel like it’s so important right now, for people to, in the workplace and beyond, have a platform, have a voice feel valued, feel seen, heard all of that. So, I know you do so much and that’s such an incredible story. Thank you for sharing. And I know when we connected midsummer 2020, you were really kind of in the beginning of your own pivot slash transition from your role as CEO at Diane Von Furstenberg.  Tell us a little bit more about what led to that desire to pivot and what you’re up to now.

Sandra Campos: [00:09:05] Well, as I was just mentioning in 2009 and 2010, when we were building the business with Selena and everything was changing e-commerce was starting, people were becoming very focused on digital and social was more social platforms were launching, everything started to change, and so I started really looking at that at that point in time to start really researching everything about digital marketing.

And I started really focusing on e-commerce back then and throughout each of the companies that I was leading, after that business, I was focused and have been focused on e-commerce and understanding all the different companies that are existing and what new products are out there, whether it’s for conversion, whether it’s for customer service, whatever it’s for.

There’s so many amazing, incredible companies that have launched over the last 10 years to help focus e-commerce and on the front end to be able to help entrepreneurs launch and scale businesses. So, I spent a lot of time focused on that. I was able to really do a lot with, e-commerce as it relates to Diane Von Furstenberg and DVF as well, because while these traditional companies and businesses I’ve been a part of are not digitally native, they have to be digitally focused.

Right? Because everyone’s on digital. Everyone’s on their computer now. So, creating the community, creating the DVF weekly wrap newsletter, which was part of building that community. And part of having people engage online, really refocusing everything on, how we looked at e-commerce as a business and ensuring that everything from the imagery and the lighting and the photography and the models and the different shots and the details and all those things were something that we were improving upon and, and changing from a direction standpoint. That was really exciting and also something that did make an impact in the business. So, with that, a couple of years ago, I was actually approached by a company called Project Verte and they were launching a marketplace. They had asked DVF to be a part of marketplace, which we didn’t think was right at the time, but I kept in contact with the founder.

And over a couple of years time, had continued to see what they were doing with their business. And then I was asked to join their board, which I did. And then from there was asked to be their CEO. So, as recent as December, I’ve joined as the CEO of Project Verte, which is a retail tech and supply chain solution company.

So, while it is a pivot and it definitely is. It’s something that I have really been very focused on in my career, but on the retail side and now I get to do it on the tech side. So, it’s pretty unique. And I will say I’m very fortunate and very appreciative of the opportunities that I have in my career.

And in this one, to be able to really, gain more knowledge and gain it from the actual tech side and bring the retail pain points and bring the retail perspective to a tech business so that we can actually have solutions that improve business and improve the ability for a retailer to scale their business.

Meghan Houle: [00:11:59] Sandra, I know for most of your career, you’ve been heavily involved in helping brands to scale, especially from a digital point of view. How important is it for brands to start to align digitally, to serve their clients based on this new retail shopping landscape and what are you doing specifically to help these businesses with your platform?

Sandra Campos: [00:12:18] As we know, there is no turning back anymore. So, we are fully heavily involved as a culture, are fully involved in everything technology on our phones, on our computers and every single touch point, it’s all very digitally focused. So, I think no one can say that it’s an alternative channel of distribution anymore.

It is fully channel that has to be focused on and realized as it relates to what we’re doing, at Project Verte, while for many, many years and decades, it was about scaling your business through addition of brick and mortar channels of distribution, different department stores, more brick and mortar stores, expanding internationally, mom and pop stores, et cetera.

It’s now about how are we going to expand across the digital landscape? Because if you’re looking to scale a business, there’s a lot less stores to sell. There’s a lot fewer ways to be able to, get those, but there’s a lot more ways to be able to get eyeballs online. So, one of the platforms that we have is actually called unified commerce, and we’ve said omni-channel for several years now, many years now.

And a lot of people have kind of gotten accustomed to what omni-channel is, but now we’re actually moving towards unified commerce. And what unified commerce is, is essentially having visibility to all of the channels, all in one place. And unified commerce for Project Verte and what we’re doing is, for example, if you have a Shopify store or Demandware or whatever platform you’re on.

But yet you want to scale your business, one of the options is certainly to scale your business across marketplaces. So, those marketplaces could be everything from Farfetch to Zulily, to Amazon, et cetera, et cetera. And there’s hundreds of them and we seamlessly and easily integrate those shops, integrate those brands across multiple platforms, marketplaces.

And that can very based on whatever you as a brand decide to do. But we also have AI tools that will help look at lookalike brands and say, here’s your lookalike Brand A, this one’s in 10 different marketplaces and this is where they’re performing really well at this price point. And then here’s lookalike Brand B and they’re on, just a handful of them. And this is where the opportunity we believe is for you. So, we kind of do a lot of handholding for brands as well, to make sure that they understand what opportunities exist across marketplaces and how we can help seamlessly put them in there.

And then, from the other part of it is that from a retailer standpoint, we also have a fulfillment option So, we’re in the supply chain business. And we have a fulfillment center. We are able to get products to the customers, both in an urban center because we have small fulfillment centers and we have big ones as well, and we can get them to the customer and in a couple of hours to a couple of days.

So, what we’re doing is really trying to make sure that we are helping brands and sellers to scale across all the different marketplaces in a way that they would have difficulty doing on their own. 

Meghan Houle: [00:15:15] Wow. That’s amazing. And I’m sure brands are very excited to have you a part of really helping them out.

Like you said, in so many different ways with online, supply chain wise. I mean, I know it’s gotten really easy for me to shop online. That’s too easy. Right? They save all your information. It’s like one click button and boom, there you go. 

Sandra Campos: [00:15:36] Oh, well that makes it so convenient. That’s what we all want these days.

So, for anyone that is looking for those options, right. I think what I find is I get frustrated if it takes longer than three seconds and then I just jump off and then I just forget it and I don’t buy it. And our attention span is so limited these days. 

Meghan Houle: [00:15:55] I agree. Having to, put in all your information, you’re like, now this is too much.

I’m done. 

Sandra Campos: [00:16:00] Here we go again, 

Meghan Houle: [00:16:01] Computer, do it for me. That is so interesting to hear and excited for your new adventure. I know you and I talked about this when we first connected, let’s talk about Fashion Launchpad. As I know that that’s another passion project that you’re really looking forward to bringing to life.

Sandra Campos: [00:16:17] So, where did the idea to create Fashion Launchpad come from and talk to us a little bit about what Fashion Launchpad is all about. 

So, first Fashion Launchpad is an online continuing education platform, specifically targeting people in retail and fashion, or those interested in retail or fashion. And it starting there because that’s obviously what I know and what I’ve been a part of.

So, I think all in all Fashion Launchpad has, reached the point. I’ve reached the point to where I wanted to launch Fashion Launchpad because of what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen others experience in the industry throughout all my time in the industry. But what really happened was the pandemic hit businesses were shuttering.

There were bankruptcies left and right, our business was left up in the air. I knew I was going to have to cancel the internship program that we had for summer of 2020. And I had some interns that I was super excited about. And so I looked at the team, I said, “Oh, why don’t we just create some videos? And we can do some tutorials and give them some sort of semblance of an internship and make them feel that they have some sort of information and didn’t just have a summer without learning.”

And then I put a post on LinkedIn. I just, I think I wrote two sentences and it was talking about what I wanted to do and I got thousands. I literally said 2,400 emails. I stopped counting, but it was so many emails that I got in comments and it was people who were saying great, I would love to help teach.

How can I be a part of it, to people saying I would like to learn, how can I be a part of it? So, I realized then that there was something here that in an industry that’s so known for learning as you go, not focused on learning development. Now, there are some companies that are doing it and doing it well and have over the years.

But for the most part, you have to learn on your own. And I hear complaints from people and have heard complaints from people for a long time. And I started canvassing people that either worked for me or worked with me over the years on a variety of different fronts. And I kept hearing things like, well, nobody teaches you anything.

Or when I would ask the question, did you understand what I meant when I said, X, Y, and Z in the meeting. And they’d say no, but I’d run back to my desk and I would Google it, things like that, that just started making me realize that we have a real opportunity, because if you look across a host of different industries, whether you’re a lawyer or if you’re a doctor, or even if you’re an electrician or a plumber, you have to know what’s changing and you have to really learn and take tests.

Then you’ve got to make sure that you’re up with the latest and you’re knowledgeable about the latest software, the latest, regulations that are out there, the latest legal terms, or whatever might be exist depending on your industry. And we didn’t really have that and don’t have that for fashion or retail and in our industry, which is the number one employment industry in the country, you can be 14 years old, or you can be 80 years old and still work in retail.

So, I think there’s a lot that we have that we are going to offer and we can offer and that we can all learn from, based on the changing nature of the industry. There’s also the ability to help people, A, it’s going to democratize learning and knowledge, which knowledge to me equals confidence and confidence equals the ability to raise your hand and answer a question in the meeting and not feel uncomfortable about it, or have a voice at the table, which leads to having a seat at the table, which of course leads to making decisions and, and being able to rise through the ranks if that’s what you choose your career path to be, and to be able to create your career path and take control of your trajectory by making sure that you’re getting more certifications and you’re learning more about, it’s digital marketing, but you might be an operations, but you need to understand what a merchandising line plan is. Or you might be in a retail store working as a sales associate, but you want to go into corporate, but you don’t really know how any of that works.

If you take these courses that are micro courses under 20 minutes each, taught by industry leaders. There’s a lot of nuggets and a lot of takeaways that are going to come out of each class and each course. So, we’re excited about that. And I think that that’s really my part of kind of giving back in the industry and making sure that we are sharing as much of our knowledge as possible.

You can be a beginner, you can be in the mid part of your career, you can be an executive and you’ll have access to a lot of information on Fashion Launchpad  regardless of where you are. It’s on demand. It’s like, you can do it at your own pace. You can learn things that really will help you on a day-to-day basis based on where you are in your career.

And one of the things that, I’m sorry, I’ll just keep going, one of the, one of the things that I look at today and what really happened when I started thinking about this last April was okay, well, everything’s changed, right. Everything has changed. Retail’s very different than it was two years ago, much less five years ago or anything past that time.

So, when you’re talking about digital and how important is it when you’re talking about robotic automation in warehouses, when you’re talking about backend IT and technology and different platforms that exist, how is anybody supposed to know that if, they aren’t being taught, if they don’t have access to the information.

And instead of going to outside industries to get people or leaders or innovators from other areas, whether it’s consumer products or other tech companies, we need to be able to help train individuals within our own industry and train those who are coming into the industry so that they start thinking a little bit more innovatively and they can also be the future change makers.

Meghan Houle: [00:21:34] That’s amazing. I cannot wait. I know I was raising my hand to help you out as well, but you don’t really for the training resources that you’re right. We’re not available now, or even very early on in our careers, like teaching us about KPIs or what any of those reporting acronyms mean. A lot of times you’re just thrust into your role and you kind of learn as you go and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Sandra Campos: [00:21:58] No, and by the way, I’m learning every day.  You get to a certain place and then you stop learning and you’re just telling people, you don’t tell people what to do without really learning what the best way is to do it. So, there’s a lot that we have an opportunity to grow and build upon here.

And so I’ve yeah, I am. I’m really looking forward to that and getting the beta up and the first initial subscribers up. It will be at subscription-based business. So, for a very accessible price point, people can get on and have a monthly access to all the different videos and the teaching. You can do it and hear lessons from people in the creative side of the field, all the way up to finance and operations, because, you might be a designer one day, but two, three, five years later, you might want to be an entrepreneur and have your own business.

And you’re going to need to understand what a P and L is. And then you might be an operations, but, if you’re an operations working with getting product to a consumer, you should really know, in my opinion, you should really know what the beginning of the process looks like. What is a merchandising line plan who gets involved in it? What are the milestones around it? What does a vendor matrix mean? Like all these different things that we know in the industry, but not everybody knows. And again, if you’re in one department versus another, it’s not always a given that you understand what the other departments talking about. 

Meghan Houle: [00:23:15] Oh, it’s so true.

And in the spirit of a yes and no answer. And then we leave a little mystery and pick back up after a short break. Yes or no. Do you remember the exact moment you decided to create Fashion Launchpad?   

Sandra Campos: [00:23:28] Absolutely. Yes. 

Meghan Houle: [00:23:30] Well, with that, we will be going to a break and we will pick this back up when we return.

Okay, Sandra, so before the break, you said yes, about remembering the exact moment you decided to create Fashion Launchpad. So tell us about that moment and where you got started. 

Sandra Campos: [00:24:03] The moment was actually when I read all of the comments that I was just mentioning and the emails that I was getting from my LinkedIn post. And a light bulb just went off and I was like, this is clearly something the industry needs.

People want to be a part of it. People want to learn from it. We have kids in high school and college, people that are just starting out in their careers and people that are midway through their careers who want to really understand any kind of new innovations and new technologies that exist out there.

So, from that point on, I started saying, okay, that’s it. I formulated what the idea was. And I just started moving along to start to put together the system, the platform to create the team that was going to start working on the development. And that’s what I started doing. So, that was pretty much last June of 2020 when we were still pretty much pandemic, stuck at home, very concerned. When was business ever going to come back? What was going to happen? How many more bankruptcies were we looking at? How are people gonna get jobs and grow and all of that, because obviously we’re, further ahead now, today, when we look backwards, it was a scary time.

Meghan Houle: [00:25:11] Where can we find out more about Fashion Launchpad and the offering coming soon? 

Sandra Campos: [00:25:15] So, right now we have a link to have people get onto the waiting list, because we’re going to let a handful of people, a little bit more than a handful, but we’re going to let on some beta initial testers, and then we’re going to start doing it increments as well. So, we have through LinkedIn, we have a site that you can go on to Fashion Launchpad through LinkedIn or fashionlaunchpad.com. And there’s a waiting list that you can sign up for there. 

Meghan Houle: [00:25:40] Well, that’ll be my next step after this podcast, getting on and seeing all that you’re creating.

Sandra Campos: [00:25:47] Listen, the whole point will be about spreading the word, because this is for everyone. This is about getting everyone and gaining knowledge and, and having, by the way, people that share this, they might want to be instructors and they might want to come on and say, Hey, I have something I want to share and talk about.

That really was a great process or something very specific. Cause what’s very important to me in this platform is that we have key takeaways from every single course that company somebody can actually take and that are actionable. So, that’s really important as well being very specific in terms of a topic. While we love to be inspired by people’s stories, this is really about learning and education. And so within the ed tech platform that we are providing, and that will be growing and building upon that’s something that, there’s just a lot more legs in terms of how you learn, because you might listen to somebody who is talking about a merchandising line plan, but they might be in men’s.

They might be in women’s handbags. They might be in bridal. They might be in luxury women’s apparel, and they’re all going to be very different. So, that’s what’s amazing about our industry is that we are so broad, diverse. We have every layer, from finance to operations, to creative, to sales functions. And we’re very inclusive as well, but hopefully this will give the opportunity to have more inclusivity, to be able to allow knowledge to be shared, regardless of what your race, age or sexual orientation is.

And that’s what I’m really hoping will help make a difference in how people climb to that C-suite executive leadership realm. 

Meghan Houle: [00:27:25] You kind of just answered my next question, but maybe we can dig into a little bit deeper. Tell me what are some of your other hopes for Fashion Launchpad and  what can somebody expect from joining the platform?

Sandra Campos: [00:27:36] Well the hope is exactly what I’ve just said, which is essentially for people to really gain actionable takeaways that they can actually learn from. We have an acronym dictionary that you’re going to be able to hear within each function, each discipline, what the different acronyms are, what they mean, how they’re used.

And then within each specific discipline, we have different courses, instructors that are going to talk through specific subjects. So, it’ll continue to grow over time. There’ll be more and more and more topics as time goes on. So, the goal is for this to become something that’s very all-inclusive that if you just need a little pick me up, if you have a little question, if you’re like, “oh, I just want to like get a little knowledge”, number one, it’s micro courses.

So, they’re really short. They’re simple to digest and they are on demand and at your own pace. So, I think that’s incredibly convenient. They’re very accessible in terms of the price point. We have options for companies to also join as well and to allow their employees to be able to have access to it.

So, that would be another one that I would say that is important for companies to be able to help, continue to focus on learning and development. And then when there’s anything more that we can do from a live standpoint, we will also have live courses and live discussions because that’s going to be another big part of it.

And we’re also going to be launching a podcast as well. 

Meghan Houle: [00:28:56] Yay. Stay tuned. Lots of things coming, that’s so exciting to hear and yes, anyway we can support you and support with a podcast and the messaging to share. I’m so looking forward to that, and maybe in the spirits of leveraging your network for support, how important do you think it is for others at this time to get through a pivot,  even getting through your pivot and supporting you to really have that good support of your network around you? 

Sandra Campos: [00:29:22] Wow, I find it to be incredibly important. And I have to say that I read something the other day about best friends and how there’s really not a best friend, but there’s best friends for different parts in different phases of your life and different aspects of things that you need.

And I think it’s the same thing as it relates to advisors, mentors or coaches, because you’ll find as you continue to move along and progressing your career, you’re going to have different types of people for different types of questions and different needs. And that’s all great, but I think support, no matter what, there’s nothing better than having the support of great advisors or coaches or just friends and mentors or colleagues that you’ve worked with that who can just kind of put you into the mindset that you might need at that point in time to move forward.

Meghan Houle: [00:30:09] It’s so important and people can change for their support in your life and sort of where you’re at and supporting you in different stages. So, it’s great words of advice. You’ve done it so beautifully, anyone looking to pivot industries, especially maybe those coming from fashion, beauty any advice you can share for someone wanting to maybe get into tech or more digital or startup businesses like you have coming from those industries and where can they start?

Sandra Campos: [00:30:33] Well, they can start by Fashion Launchpad. No kidding. They can start by subscribing to Fashion Launchpad and learning all about all the different disciplines across the organization. But no, in seriousness, I think it really is about making sure that you’re cultivating a love and curiosity of learning because, I was very fortunate that I had the ability from companies that I worked with to be able to learn a lot of different functions and as an entrepreneur to really be everything. Because when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re, head of finance, head of PR head of all of it. So, that’s something that I’ve been able to gain access to, but you make choices in life.

And I think we in our industry have always been known to really pigeonhole somebody, if you’re women, then you’re in women’s. If you’re in, in mass or private label, then you can’t really get into luxury or vice versa. And I don’t think that there’s really a lot of sense to that anymore because while maybe there was some merit to that in the past, I really hope that we start to break those barriers down as an industry and allow people the opportunity to pivot.

But as it relates to how to, it really is about learning as much as you can learn and networking because. The more people that you learned from in those industries that you want to pivot into, the better off you’re going to be. 

Meghan Houle: [00:31:44] As the CEO in the Pivot with Purpose hot seat. I know you have interviewed and hired many people in your career.

And I know a lot of people tune in to this podcast to get some advice and also insider tips and tools from a lot of our listeners that are still looking for work or feeling a little frustrated with the interview process right now, when you’re interviewing people, what  stands out for you that  leaves a lasting impression.

Sandra Campos: [00:32:10] Well, I’m going to get onto a couple of pet peeves because I try to also instill this in my kids and make sure that they think about this and no matter what they do, but one is spelling. You just need to have the right spelling on your resume. I can’t even tell you how many times I have seen misspelled words on a resume.

That’s one. I know it sounds silly, but it actually isn’t because it’s your first impression and you only get one chance to make that first impression when you’re actually able to see people and speak to people. I really like direct eye contact. So, somebody who really has confidence in their body, language, confidence in their eyes, and can look at you in their eyes and speak to you in an intelligent manner is really great.

It doesn’t matter where you went to school. Just talk to me about what you know and show me what your work ethic is. Because there are many, many people that cannot tell you what college their employees went to, but they can certainly tell you about their work ethic. They can certainly tell you about the difference or impact they’re making their day to day attitude and whether or not they see them as leader in the future.

So, these are all things that you need to be able to think about and how you want to present yourself. You are your own brand. So, what is that brand that you’re presenting, sitting in that room? 

Meghan Houle: [00:33:30] I love that. Great parting words of advice. And with all of the amazing information you shared, how can our listeners find you, Sandra? Or Fashion Launchpad?  

Sandra Campos: [00:33:41] Of course, naturally I’m on all the various social media channels, LinkedIn and Instagram and such @sandracamposnyc. I try to do as much as possible to respond to people via LinkedIn and on Instagram. I used to say, I responded to everything, over the past I would say year and a half to two years, I can’t really get to everything, but I try my best, but I will say one last thing. And that’s something that I do like to share with people because there is nothing like just asking for help. People do want to help and so if you’re looking for somebody to give you advice, if you’re looking for some help in one specific thing, you just need to ask.

And when you go and you reach out to somebody on LinkedIn, give them a specific reason why you should connect with them, or they should connect with you. And if you’re looking, whether it’s for advice on X, Y, and Z, or you have a reason that you’re reaching out to them because you want to show them about something that you have.

Just say that and be upfront about it. Because I think that’s really helpful to people who have very little time, but yet they want to be helpful at the same time. 

Meghan Houle: [00:34:44] Right. Yeah. Be specific. And we talked about that a lot where it’s not just blank, connecting with somebody and hoping they get back or sending this long-winded message, be specific, be kind, be professional.

Sandra, thank you for all that you do to share the wonderful talents with this retail community and for sharing your pivot with us, we look forward to keeping an eye on Fashion Launchpad and all you are creating to serve those in our industries and for our listeners, I hope you enjoy this conversation with Sandra.

And stay tuned for more stories coming soon on Pivot with Purpose. Thanks Sandra for your time.

Sandra Campos: [00:35:16] Thanks Meghan. Thank you for what you’re doing to help everyone. 

FC Podcasts: [00:35:20] Pivot with Purpose with host, Meghan Houle is a Fashion Concert production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corinne and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme  music.

Learn more @pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 6

Allison O’Connor is the current President and CEO of the American-Made Luxury Home Furnishings Brand, Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams.

She is a strategic Executive retail leader with a progressive history of conceptualizing ideas that drive brand awareness and consumer loyalty. From launching kids at Abercrombie and Fitch to reinventing home gardening at Urban Outfitters/Terrain to her recent roles at Williams-Sonoma, Inc and Sheridan Australia, her impressive career journey is one that spans through compelling distribution channels, many industry sectors, and multiple product categories, as well as launching new business concepts.

Allison has made big career pivots with confidence and success while supporting high-performing teams as a hands-on leader, mentor and advocate for retail wellness and mental health programs.

Connect with Allison O’Connor:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/allison-oconnor/

For Careers at MGBW please visit: 

www.mgbwhome.com

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives, more purposefully, and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Meghan Houle, a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Meghan Houle method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:32] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast in this episode, we talk to Allison O’Connor, current president and CEO of the American made luxury home furnishings brand, Mitchell Gold, and Bob Williams.

FC Podcasts: [00:00:45] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host Meghan Houle. You can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Your support amplifies our voice. And now this week’s episode. 

Meghan Houle: [00:01:18] Allison is a Strategic Executive retail leader with a progressive history of conceptualizing ideas that drive brand awareness and consumer loyalty. From launching kids at Abercrombie and Fitch to reinventing home gardening at Urban Outfitters terrain to her recent role at Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

Allison has made big career pivots with confidence and success while supporting high-performing teams as a hands-on leader, mentor and advocate for the retail wellness programs. Allison O’Connor, thank you for being here with me today on the first season of Pivot with Purpose podcast, I’m really looking forward to our conversation.

Allison O’Connor: [00:01:54] Good morning. It’s great to be here. Thanks so much. 

Meghan Houle: [00:01:57] Of course and, as we dive in to start, I would love for the listeners to have a chance to get to know you. Can you tell us a little bit about your current position at Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams and what brought you to the team? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:02:09] Sure I joined Mitchell Gold Bob Williams in July of 2019 after spending about five and a half years in Australia. I had the pleasure of meeting Mitchell and Bob when I worked for Williams-Sonoma home and fell in love with the brand, fell in love  (with) what Mitchell and Bob had.

Grown fell in love with the brand ethos of taking care of their employees and taking care of their customers. And so we made the journey back to the States, to North Carolina, to really start to transform the brand to what it is today. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:46] I love it. I’m so impressed with all your pivots and knowing your story a bit from our chats and through so many different categories globally, and as you mentioned, even spending some time in Australia. For anyone listening, looking to pivot industry categories, can you give us some expert insights into what you think has been the key to all of your successful career pivots? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:03:07] Sure. For me, it’s been a long journey, but a one that’s been rich in experiences. I think professional discipline, hard work mixed with some imagination and definitely possibility are fundamental in pivoting, I think you have to first and foremost be focused on strategically where you want your career to go and to then marry that with brands that share the same values.

For me, I spent a number of years working in apparel. Really developing brands like Abercrombie kids. But at a certain point found that I wanted to pivot to something that was more meaningful to me, which ultimately was working in the home industry. I think at each point as I pivoted, I could see my ability to contribute to a culture, to leading a team, to mentoring those on my team. And it really helped me to focus businesses around strategy and with each pivot there’s lessons, right. There’s lessons that you learn about yourself. There’s lessons you learn about yourself as a leader.

 For me, it’s really been an honest approach to, building teams and brands. 

Meghan Houle: [00:04:26] I love that you’ve worked for some really well-known brands globally. Can you give us a few important career highlights for some of the brands that you work with and what you were doing with them?

Allison O’Connor: [00:04:36] Sure. I guess I would start first and foremost in my youth, when I worked at Nordstrom’s, I put myself through college being on the selling floor Nordstrom’s and that was really the first experience that I had around serving customers. And when I think about the thread of my career, each and every position that I’ve taken and brand that I’ve worked for has been centered in putting the customer at the heart of everything that I’ve done. Whether it was, the beginning at Nordstrom’s to today at Mitchell Gold Bob Williams. I was planning to go on to a PhD program when I got an opportunity to meet Elliot Stone, who was the chairman of Jordan Marsh. And he literally said to me, well, why don’t you give this a try? Why don’t you come into our executive leadership program, you can always go back to get your PhD program. And lo and behold, many years later, obviously I never went back, but I think as I moved forward into, my career, certainly working under Mike Jeffries at Abercrombie and Fitch was a memorable experience to say the least. Doing a startup within, a multi-billion dollar company was incredibly exhilarating. Working with some of the most talented merchants that have gone on today to do incredible things, was probably the most fun that I had at that point in my life. But as I move forward, I really, as I said, wanted to shift into home and garden. And that’s when I pivoted to work ultimately in home and garden, when I started garden business with my sister in Portland, Oregon called Poppy Box Gardens, which was really her concept that I came in to bring to life her two favorite plants are poppies and boxwood. It was sort of the formal and the informal mix together. And that really,  has brought me to where I am today, which , is working for this iconic craftsman brand that’s focused on comfort for all.

So, it’s been an incredible, journey to say the least. 

Meghan Houle: [00:06:37] Yeah, so you, you can help me keep my plants alive and make my house look amazing. Right? Wow. 

Allison O’Connor: [00:06:44] I can help you keep some of your plants alive. I can’t promise on all, but, I think the thing that you learn  with gardening is that gardening is, all about memories.

For me, it was being in, my mother’s rose garden with my grandmother. And so it’s such a therapeutic time to be in the garden at whatever level that is. It could be, just putting beautiful tulips into a vase, to a more elaborate vegetable garden.  It doesn’t really matter, but there’s a lot of joy, certainly that we all get from, tilling the earth and watching things grow.

Meghan Houle: [00:07:19] I agree and I love roses so much and I try to surround myself as, where are we spending the most time now than ever is in our homes, right? Yeah, and definitely, we want to make our spaces look beautiful and  it’s amazing   Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, I feel like your business has been pretty strong throughout. How are things going with you and your teams right now? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:07:41] I have to say we are so grateful for how things are going with our business today. Looking back and reflecting  like so many of us over the last year, it’s really with, with a lot of gratitude, gratitude to my incredible team who each and every day inspire me to be a better leader.

Certainly gratitude to our customers who have been with us through the last 31 years, but in particular the last year. And  we’re doing incredibly well. People obviously are spending so much time in their home, wanting to create this safe sanctuary. And I think for us at Mitchell Gold, Bob Williams, where we’re making artisan furniture by hand in our own factories.

I think that’s resonating with customers. They want to know where their product’s coming from. They want to know that it’s made safely. They want to know that it’s made to last. And so, it’s been an incredibly humbling year to say the least. 

Meghan Houle: [00:08:42] For sure and that’s so interesting to know, and I guess anyone new listening know about Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams and all that they do. And  I do also love that it’s American made and it’s so wonderful to hear your teams are doing well. And I know with someone like you  leading the teams, you’re just all about them and supporting them and  in the spirit of pivots, really wanted to pivot into a topic, which I know we’re looking forward to touching on today and a topic that’s near and dear you and me.

And we have spoken about it a few times, really in this retail environment, talking about retail and mental health and the resources that are somewhat available to those struggling in our industry. And thinking back on 2020, that’s no doubt tested us all, and as this year is still full of uncertainty with some glimmers of hope around the corner,  I feel not often do you get to openly talk about mental health and the retail space and how we can better support our teams.

So, I would love to hear your take on what things the industry you think can maybe be doing better to support the health of their employees. And why do you think retail mental health is so important to talk about right now? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:09:52] Sure. I mean, I think we believe at Mitchell Gold that we’re a modern maverick company, so we should be looking at new breakthrough ways to support our people going through difficult times.

I think serving our customers certainly with world-class brand experience should certainly be built upon serving our employees with a world-class employee experience that not only looks deeply at mental and emotional health and welfare, but at the same time, deeply invest in the issues and actions required through our DEI, which is really around diversity, equality and inclusion at work, we can’t build a healthy business committed to a healthy home without a healthy team in our own house. And that’s really how we’re focused on, each and every one of our employees. I think as we’ve talked about mental health concerns in the US is quite different than what I experienced in Australia. In Australia, one seeks any kind of psychological help, similar to, if you had a sore throat or, had broken a limb or whatever it may be. And I think here in the States, we just haven’t quite caught up with the need first and foremost, to have a healthy mind, a healthy heart.

And so, for us at MGBW we’re working on a number of initiatives that we’ll be announcing over the coming months to really lean in and more significantly support our employees to ensure that,  they are healthy themselves. 

Meghan Houle: [00:11:33] I can’t wait to hear more about that, when the time comes. I know you spearhead a lot of these programs you’re so passionate about it. And so am I spending so many years in the retail industry and at a very young age, I will tell you. And I think, we’ve talked about this before too, but maybe for years, it was just the way that you manage through retail was through that burnout mentality that you just dealt with, the demands coming in.

And that was just the way it is. How do you feel like we can change that perception of what it is like to work in retail and make a point that you can have a  healthy balance too. Do you think it’s a responsibility of companies, brands, leaders? How do you think we can make that work? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:12:13] I definitely think it, takes a village, but first and foremost, I think it starts with, the brand and the leaders that are supporting their employees.

 We believe that nothing is more important than family and home at MGBW and sometimes that’s difficult you’re wanting to, reach sales results, you’ve got deadlines that you need to meet, but I can honestly say, for my team, it’s really encouraging them to stop and reflect and ensure that they’re not missing any important milestone.

  I spent most of my career, as you said, just grinding through, right? A working parent, that was torn many days as to do I turn right for work or do I turn left for my family? And I never wanted to be that kind of leader. I always wanted our employees to put their family first and themselves first.

And through that, having a much more productive workforce. So, I can only say, and I know there are so many other leaders out there that feel the same way that I am, that business by business, we need to set the example to create a work-life balance that meets the needs of the employees and meets the needs of the  business.

But I truly believe that you can have it all. I think you just have to, you have to lead with intent. 

Meghan Houle: [00:13:39] I feel like so many people are going to take that message and be like, okay, I can do this. And before we go to break, a yes or no question, we’ll put you on the spot and leave a little teaser. So yes or no, do you think the industry does enough right now to support their hardworking teams and especially all that we’re facing with a pandemic and looking into the future?

Allison O’Connor: [00:13:59] No.

Meghan Houle: [00:14:00] And with that, we will pick this up after the break.

Okay, Allison, before the break you said no. Where do you see the opportunity to build on existing resources to add to employees struggling maybe not knowing what options are out there? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:14:29] Well, I think for us, it’s really leaning into our health network. We’re part of a large health network that has a lot of opportunities within it to support folks, whether that’s EAP support, whether that is healthy living support.

So, we’ve gathered with our counterparts within the health organization that we’re a part of, to understand each and every touch point that we can create for our employees to ultimately be able to serve them in a lot more meaningful way as it relates not only to mental health, but healthy living as well.

I think that when you’re in retail, you’re on your feet X number of hours a day, you’re on your computer, you’re on your phone, you’re standing up, working in a factory, building furniture. There’s a lot of things that we can be doing as far as training as far as coaching, as far as, creating healthy menus, the list goes on and on.  As an example, we, have cafe Lulu. Lulu, who was Mitchell and Bob’s wonderful dog, but we provide healthy, breakfast and lunch for all of our employees in our North Carolina facility. And I think those are just one ways where you can start knowing that somebody has the choice to be able to have a healthy breakfast followed by a healthy lunch, that’s one way, but the other ways are really around those support times that you can have, free of charge within your insurance program, that really helps to support when you obviously need that professional guidance. 

Meghan Houle: [00:16:18] Yeah. I remember us chatting about a lot that you do offer and  I think even some daycare support, right? Which is so amazing , is there a wellness, like fitness facility there too?  I want to come and work.

Allison O’Connor: [00:16:31] You know I think, healthy employees, healthy business. Prior to COVID right in our three facilities, we have a small wellness health workout center. Obviously due to COVID those unfortunately have temporarily been closed. But in addition to that, we have a full time RN that is available for any of our employees in North Carolina to come in and do any kind of testing, we do lab work. We send out lab work. She’s there, RN Laura, she’s amazing to really help folks navigate any kind of possible illness or a health concern that’s going on. So, thankfully we’ve been able to keep her and she is so actively important to us as we’re navigating COVID.

In addition to that we have had a five store learning center for our employee’s children, unfortunately, up until April of 2020, we did have to close it along with our factory and have made the difficult decision that we will not be reopening it until we feel that it is a a hundred percent safe environment for our most precious folks to come back to.

But we do have every intention of reopening it. Again when you think about the difficulties that we’re faced with around childcare today to know that you can bring your children to work, that they’re being enriched through these programs that we’re offering, and then obviously picking your children up at the end of the evening, makes a big difference for those that we can help in this way.

Meghan Houle: [00:18:07] Absolutely. I feel like through LinkedIn and your website, you’re going to start getting a lot of applications.

Oh, that’s amazing. Wow. 

Allison O’Connor: [00:18:18] We have a lot of open positions. I’m just going to put a little plug in there. So, please go to mgbwhome.com and go to the career section, because I know there are so many talented people out there today that are looking for work, and they’re looking to align with brands such as ours, that really put their employees first and foremost.

So, please for any of you that are looking, we do have positions open across many departments and also across the country in our wonderful signature stores. 

 Meghan Houle: [00:18:51] For all the partnerships that you have out there, I mean, I know, you have such a wonderful network in the industry. Are you working on any future projects or collaborations coming up with other brands or people maybe to bring more light into the conversation around retail and mental health? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:19:07] Well, what I would say is I was really inspired by an organization in Australia, a nonprofit called Are You Okay? You can go online and see it, areyouokay.com.au . Sheridan, the iconic brand that I worked for participated in this “Are You Okay?” day in Australia and the five and a half years that I spent there each year, it built momentum into thousands of employees across our network.

And so for me, it’s really about thinking, how could we, bring something similar to the US and collaborate as you say, with many other retailers, who’ve got a much larger network of employees out there to focus on the simple question, “are you okay?”. So, they’ve really inspired me. Whether we end up working with them directly, or in fact we start something else within the retail sector, those are all things that are happening behind the scenes right now. So, just as soon as we’ve got more solidified plans,  I’m happy to come back on and share with you so that we can get the word out there. But, you know, there is the simple question that doesn’t necessarily need a day to highlight it, but that is, looking to your right and looking to your left and asking a colleague the simple question, are you okay?

Meghan Houle: [00:20:30] I love that. Oh my gosh. I’d try to think how many times in a break room, if somebody said that to me, I’d start breaking down or at least like to know someone cares! Other than being thrusted out on the sales floor and kind of just deal with it, no matter what you have going on.  In what way have you seen the retail working environments change since the pandemic?

And do you see the future of our demanding schedules changing for teams? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:20:54] Well, I think it’s changed a lot. The cycle of closing, reopening have to then reclose stores, combined with the pain of furlough or,  being laid off, alongside being in the frontline with customers has really created a cycle of anxiety I think for retail employees. I think that we would be doing ourselves such a disservice if we didn’t think that that’s truly what was happening. Our employees at Mitchell Gold Bob Williams, they are on the frontline serving customers each and every day. But I think a few things are a bit of a silver lining, which is, our stores are not open the hours that they were open prior to the shutdown so that, when you’re working 11-6, that’s very different than coming in and opening a store at 9:30 or 10.

And potentially working to eight or nine o’clock at night. Now, obviously they’re not working those hours, but just having time to get up in the morning, having time to meditate or exercise, or spend time with your children or help them with their schoolwork before you go off to work.

And then knowing that you’re leaving a store give or take call at 6:15, 6:30 at night, creates the opportunity to get home, to put children to bed, to again, potentially exercise to do something just for yourself. So, I think that COVID has helped to reshape what’s required of retailers relative to the hours that stores are open.

I think also we’ve all become experts in virtual design services, at least how it relates to us at Mitchell Gold. We’ve been given permission to be in our customer’s home in a very personal way.  Whether that’s through Zoom or Teams or FaceTime, and it’s created this wonderful more rich experience and relationship with customers than I think we had before. Before COVID , we were in customers’ homes all the time. We were doing design work, we were doing installation, but this has taken it to a new level. I think where conversations start with, how are you, a bit of a pause more than just the transactional nature of retail. So, I think that those, relationships and, the way that we approach design has changed for the foreseeable future, I don’t see us sort of quote, going back. Somebody right asked me on the retail team, do I see us quote, going back? And I said, I’m not, I’m not quite sure I understood what she meant, right? So, she was asking the question, are we going to have, yeah. Are we going to have to work long hours? Are we going to do this or that? And I think, it’s really given us, great pause to understand the importance of having balance for our employees so they can ultimately serve our customers.

Meghan Houle: [00:23:54] Yeah, wow, music to my ears. I mean,  remembering the days  you get up, you’re working the nine shift, someone calls out, you’re doing a double, you have to get up the next day and close and open and it becomes a vicious cycle. So, how amazing is it? You have to come in at 11, be able to do what you need to do for your team and your family.

Have a night to eat dinner with your kids or whatever there is. And it seems like such a beautiful balance and really, you have such incredible retention in the team and in your brand. I can absolutely see why. Now and looking for the future, I’m hoping maybe some talented listeners will be contacting you and applying, interviewing, and and it’ll be new, talented people coming into the company.

And you have any words of advice for those listening, looking for support and not feeling like they’re getting what they need from their current company. What would you tell them to do? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:24:46] I think if you’re in a situation where your, company isn’t supporting you, or unfortunately you’re in between jobs, there’s websites like opencounseling.com or a number of other places where you can go and literally type in, what if I can’t afford therapy?

I think you have to start there, hopefully, you’ve got access either through your phone or your computer to just type that in.  Up comes a number of different websites will allow you free or low cost counseling to really support you through this difficult time. I say to people all the time, let’s really bring our mental health concerns to the forefront. Let’s not hide them in the shadow. And so, it’s as easy as, going online, just taking that first step, just connecting with another human being that isn’t a family member, that can speak to you openly and freely about what your concerns are is the first step.

 Meghan Houle: [00:25:50] No, I agree, and it’s, time to address it and support our people and have it be okay not to be okay. 

Allison O’Connor: [00:25:59] That’s right. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world today that doesn’t wake up with some, some level of anxiety. 

Meghan Houle: [00:26:08] Yeah, absolutely. Well, this has been such a fabulous conversation and talking about how listeners can find you and keep the retail and mental health conversations going, what would be the best way to reach out? 

Allison O’Connor: [00:26:23] Well, there’s a lot of different ways. First and foremost, I’ll give you my email address. People say, Allison, why do you do that? I really do want to hear from people.

So, my address at Mitchell Gold is allison.oconnor@mgbwhome.com   (O-C-O-N-N-O-R) . So, if you are out there and actively looking for work, you can also go to our website, which is http://www.mgbwhome.com we really want to hear from you if you’re looking for positions in manufacturing, if you’re looking for positions in marketing, if you’re looking for positions in our stores, we’ve also launched a virtual design network.

So, we are actively hiring interior designers to work for us around the States which is really exciting. So, all of this information is on our website, but don’t hesitate if you also are in a position where you’re in the mental health field and you’re listening to this podcast, please reach out so that we can continue to build our network of support for our employees at Mitchell Gold, Bob Williams.

Meghan Houle: [00:27:34] Thank you for sharing that valuable information. And as Allison said, do not be afraid to reach out. It’s something I talk about all the time in this podcast. Be fearless, reach out to CEOs. They want to hear from you, Allison wants to hear your stories and I can’t wait to have you back on maybe to talk about more things that you’re putting out into the universe around this topic.

And I really, really appreciate you being here with us today. Thanks so much for sharing your insight with us on this topic,  as I was saying, but also all that you’re doing and I really look forward to keeping an eye on you and the future and stay tuned for more incredible stories to all of our listeners.

Thanks so much, Allison. 

Allison O’Connor: [00:28:10] Thank you so much. Have a great day. 

Meghan Houle: [00:28:12] You too. 

FC Podcasts: [00:28:15] Pivot with Purpose with host Megan Houle is a Fashion Concert production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corinne and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music, learn more at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 5

Traci Rubin has spent nearly a decade in Human Resources, specifically in retail, in both fortune 500 companies and startup environments.

Traci is also the host and creator of the podcast, and one of my favorite podcasts, Bringing The Human Back To Human Resources, where she brings a fresh perspective to the importance of closely connecting people and business while aiming to de-stigmatize what it means to be in HR.

You can find all of Traci’s networking offerings along with her Podcast at https://hrtraci.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracirubin/

Instagram: @hrtraci

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives, more purposefully, and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Meghan Houle, a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Megan Houle method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:33] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host, Meghan Houle. And in this episode, we talked to Traci Rubin Director of Human Resources for North America within global luxury fashion, and host of the, Bringing the Human back to Human Resources podcast.

FC Podcasts: [00:00:48] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host Meghan Houle, you can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation.

Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Your support amplifies our voice. And now this week’s episode.

Meghan Houle: [00:01:23] Traci has spent nearly a decade in HR, specifically in retail, in both fortune 500 companies and startup environments. Traci is also the host and creator of the podcast, and one of my favorite podcasts, I must say, Bringing the human back to Human Resources. Where she brings a fresh perspective to the importance of closely connecting people and business while aiming to de-stigmatize what it means to be in HR. Traci Rubin, what a wonderful treat it is to have you here with us today.

I’m so excited for you to be a part of season one, Pivot with Purpose, and I’m looking forward to our conversation. 

Traci Rubin: [00:01:58] Thank you so much for having me, Meghan. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:00] You’re welcome, this is going to be great. So, to start, I would love to really, talk about you and your career journey as I’m just so impressed with all that you’ve done.

And I know you have so many wonderful stories to share of your strategic pivots within your own HR journey itself. So, tell us a little bit about your current role in HR, and we’d love to hear a few important career highlights. 

Traci Rubin: [00:02:24] Yeah. Well, thank you so much again, I’m really excited to be on your podcast and I just want to celebrate you too, because it’s been amazing.

And I loved your first episode, actually, both episodes that you had. In terms of my role right now, I’m the director of HR for a global fashion company, I oversee and support the North America business unit. And so basically that means I’m a partner to our retail teams and our corporate team which is based in New York.

And so really with the US and Canada operations, I serve in what I would consider really a business partner function, supporting our teams, but also bringing strategic business development and projects to our organization. 

In terms of some career highlights, I would be remiss not to talk about COVID. Going through COVID in 2020 and 2021 so far has been probably the most challenging part of my career to date, but also the most rewarding in some strange ways. I think that the rewarding part is kind of still in the snowball effect in the sense that it’s still happening, but seeing the way that we’ve been able to come together and really support our populations has been inspiring.

And I’ve also in some ways, Kind of reassessed my purpose as an HR person. And so I feel so connected to what I do. And just in general, developing relationships throughout my career is a highlight because I’ve gone throughout these last almost 10 years, bringing people with me meeting new people along the way.

And it’s, truly such a rewarding career. 

Meghan Houle: [00:03:59] I know you’re, such a fantastic HR partner and so much you put into it is really all about the teams and being available and being present and navigating through 2020 is probably one of the hardest jobs that anyone had I think is to really be an HR with so many twists and turns and pivots.

And we can get into that, but , thinking about your career journey, maybe including education, personal, , what’s been really important to you throughout this journey to HR. 

Traci Rubin: [00:04:28] I graduated from grad school in 2020 and actually I should add that I went to school part-time when I was going through school, I was still working full-time in my HR roles.

Previously, I was with Target and with the company that I’m with now, I was doing school all at the same time. And it was really challenging, but also really rewarding. And I specifically structured my classes to be able to walk during graduation in 2020 in the world just like laughed at me. They’re like, eh, you can plan, but , we’re just going to laugh at you anyway, because it’s not going to happen.

So I had a graduation in our apartment, which was really interesting. I did full glam for it. Yeah. But, yeah, so that, was a really important experience for me. I think education just in general has always been an important part of life for me, I’ve always loved school and one of those but another experience that I would say on the opposite side of the fence from something that’s really positive is that actually I had a manager in my past life with Target where my manager was really unethical and there were things within that experience that taught me a lot. Mostly, what I didn’t want to be like and what I didn’t appreciate. And it really shaped me into the leader that I am today. And so I think I often say that our worst leaders help us grow the most.

So, those two very contrasting different experiences have really shaped me. 

Meghan Houle: [00:06:01] Yeah. Wow. I know you talk about that too, in your podcasts, and I love that point that you make. Our careers, we always have a very diverse mix of people that we work with and, and learn from and grow in various ways.

So, thanks for sharing all of that and congrats on your graduation. It’s so amazing. So good for you. Tell us a little bit too about that desire to pivot into retail and human resources, because I know you have a pretty interesting story there. 

Traci Rubin: [00:06:27] Yeah. So, leadership has always been at the core of who I am growing up.

I was in leadership roles in school, and I always had that hunger and drive for leading teams and helping people to really get to the level of success that they wanted and that they wanted out of their experiences. And throughout my education, including college, I was in leadership roles and I always worked in very people centric positions. And actually on Halloween of my senior year of college, I went to Binghamton University in New York state  I was offered a job at Target. And I was like, this is the best Halloween ever. What parties are there, I’m ready to go. And so of course, you’re not going to turn down your first job offer. I was like, people usually spend months after graduating looking for this.

And so I joined Target as a guest experience executive. So, I was in store. It was an amazing opportunity. I learned everything that I know today from Target. I just loved that experience. But when I was in that guest experience role, I quickly learned that it was the people and the HR function that I got to see from my peers who were in HR.

That I really wanted to break into and pretty quickly into my Target experience around like eight months into being at target, I was then interviewed and promoted to an HR executive. So, similarly I was in store and I worked in really high volume stores where I brought the HR perspective.

And my goal in that role was always to kind of turn HR on its head because I saw some really good HR partners and Target. And I also saw HR partners that I knew I didn’t want to be like. So, having all of the leadership experience and desire to really help people grow, I think it, made sense that I kind of just fell into HR.

Meghan Houle: [00:08:19] Yeah, I think it’s too, such a desirable path for a lot of people that kind of start off in retail and maybe thinking about some things that they can do on the corporate side. And especially if you love people, I mean, it’s, a great career succession plan, for sure.

How did you navigate through your pivots during your career as you grew into your HR role? Cause I know you’ve really only been doing that, which I’m so impressed by. And it’s alot to say about you and your commitment to the industry and also this position. So, talk a little bit about some of those pivots.

Traci Rubin: [00:08:51] Yeah, well, I always got involved and I would say, I always got my hands dirty. I never said no to an opportunity. So, any moment that I had, even before I jumped into HR. I took on whatever opportunity I could to be involved. So, whether it was supporting with compliance violations or training, or employee engagement.

I got involved and one of the most important ways that I think that my involvement helped me grow into my HR role, not only at Target, but also at my current company, is by really developing and maintaining very strong and trusting relationships. And I talk about this a lot, because I think relationships are everything.

And it’s not to say that you’re always going to get along with the people who you’re developing relationships with, but it’s figuring out how to get their buy-in showing them that you’re committed to their part of the business or piece of the pie. So that, that also encourages them to support your piece of the pie and your initiatives.

And so transitioning into HR, having all of those like mindsets, I guess I would say, having that mindset to bring people with me, I think helped to do everything that I worked so hard to do today, which is to really, de-stigmatize what it means to be in HR and really to support people no matter where they are in their careers.

Meghan Houle: [00:10:15] I love that you talk about this  in your podcast. I think in your first episode, you really talk about coming into stores. And for me working in the retail space, you see HR and everyone would like run and you’re like, “Oh no, the police are here!”. So, it is something that when embraced, I mean, it’s such a wonderful department to have, and I know you are such an important business partner. So, maybe as a yes or no answer, there’s a lot of people out there I know are still looking for pivots or maybe for someone even really interested to see how they could get into this HR space. Do you think it’s possible for someone in retail in potentially a leadership role right now to pivot into HR? 

Traci Rubin: [00:10:57] Yes. 

Meghan Houle: [00:10:58] Great. Well with that, we’re going to leave a little mystery. We’ll be going to a break and we’ll pick this up after the break.

So, Traci in saying yes with this pivot, tell us what steps you would recommend someone take to kick off an HR industry pivot with no direct experience in the function. 

Traci Rubin: [00:11:30] This is a great question and I’m going to be very direct, but you need to drop your ego. You can’t be afraid to step into a role that pays less, or it doesn’t sound as chic, or maybe is even more entry-level than the current role that you’re in.

And I say that because, titles, the titles are so fluid, right? But it’s the experience, especially in HR that gives us a leg up on competition and also supports us through our journeys. So, if you want to break into HR without any kind of experience, it’s going to take a lot of work and it’s going to take hustle, networking, marketing yourself in ways that are creative, but also clear.

Show that you understand what’s expected of you. So, partner with HR people that you trust and ask them, what do they do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. So you can really understand the root of the job. And then of course, you’re going to have to show and really demonstrate that you are able to have this transferable skillset.

And if you aren’t able to leave your current role, maybe there isn’t an option financially or otherwise to take a step down, so to speak, and I say that very loosely, or to pivot into a different industry then absolutely you should get involved with your current company. Whether it’s an HR initiative or expressing interest in transferring into the HR space within your company, or actually creating events or programs that inspire this people centric approach that HR is so commonly tied to, those are some of the best ways that I would advise without experience kind of taking off there.

Meghan Houle: [00:13:08] Yeah. So, leveraging your internal company, right. And having conversations with some of your direct reports to say, “Hey, this is what I’m interested in doing and maybe how I can get started?”. And do you think that there’s a specific maybe entry level function into HR that would make sense, like coming from the field.

I mean, I know sometimes a lot of people start in recruiting or maybe take on like a small generalist role. Like what do you think would be possible? I’m sure it differs from every company, but what are your thoughts there? 

Traci Rubin: [00:13:44] Yeah, I think it’s industry specific. Recruiting is a fabulous way to break in because in recruiting, that’s where you learn the roles and responsibilities of every open position that the company has.

I also think that the administrative positions or even consultant positions, which are sometimes fluid based on experience,  if you’re able to find an internship, even while you are working full time. I’m a big believer in the hustle. I have had a million side hustles my entire life. I don’t rely on one single income stream because I love to get involved and so, that is really, I think what would be the best case scenario for someone who is looking for an entry-level position just to really like get involved at any level. And also, I think there is a misconception in some capacity that an HR generalist role or business partner role is only for experienced people in the role.

In many ways, yes business partners, generalists they can have, or require 10 to 15 years of experience. But there are also roles out there that are looking for people from operations backgrounds or education backgrounds because of the industry that actually are more entry-level than you’d think. So, I think sometimes it’s a matter of really navigating the job description. If someone says we need a minimum of five years, that’s not entry-level for HR. And so thinking through the job title as admin or assistant, those are some better roles, especially if you want to break into a business partner or generalist type of space.

Meghan Houle: [00:15:16] That’s really good advice. And for anyone listening, you hopefully can take some of that away and maybe just start. Start networking, start putting it out there in your current company. I always say to candidates and clients, no one’s going to know anything unless you tell them. We cannot read minds. And you can’t just sit and wish.  You definitely have to take action, so all great advice and really digging into a topic I’m so excited to kind of dive in with you, Traci. As mentioned again in your fabulous podcast, Bringing the human back to Human Resources. You talk a lot about de-stigmatizing HR, why is this topic so important to you for listeners to know about HR professionals?

And why do you think HR gets bad rep? 

Traci Rubin: [00:15:58] Oh my gosh. Thank you for asking me this question. It impassions me. I could probably go on like Ted talk and just talk about it for 30 minutes or more, three days. It’s important because HR is such a critical function and this is why I’m so passionate about de-stigmatizing it.

Because I think there’s a misconception to what HR does. And I think that’s probably why we’ve seen the shift away from HR and into people operations, because that’s exactly what the function is, is focusing on people and the business. So, you have people ops and ops, obviously everything that’s executed by our people.

And so I always say too that, you don’t have to have the title of HR to be an HR leader. And I was actually just talking about this on a clubhouse room that every single person who is in an organization, whether they’re an individual contributor or, and especially if there are people manager, they are HR leaders.

They can say a million times over that they don’t believe in HR, but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what they are. In retail we always say to the managers, you are the HR managers on the floor. And so understanding that the de-stigmatizing really comes in when every single person feels like they have skin in the game to make the business people centric and HR for sure gets a bad rep, which is why I’m focused on de-stigmatizing it every single day of my life.

But it’s because to be quite frank, there are HR professionals who are not in the right careers. They shouldn’t be in HR. They shouldn’t be in a people facing function. And maybe what worked previously in HR or what HR used to be like a personnel type of role. It’s not what HR means today. And so thinking through the HR function critically, and also for businesses to really value a people centric approach, that’s where you’ll be able to find a really successful company. I really believe that companies that highly value HR or people operations as a function are 1000% more successful than companies that don’t. 

Meghan Houle: [00:18:10] Yeah, and on the talent side with so many people out there and looking. I get asked all the time on the recruiting side, I’m sure you too is, talk to me about the company culture. People work for people these days and I think, this candidate population more than ever is eyes wide open of how companies handled through the pandemic, through black lives matter, through social justice, all the conversations that we’re having. And I know I’ve had many candidates back out of processes because they couldn’t get behind the brands.

You know, for various reasons of going in and being feared, not to be seen, heard, having diversity inclusion, all of that.  And I know HR is going to continue to evolve and really leading into this next question, which I’m sure you can have some points on here to highlight, but in what way has the pandemic changed your job function and, where do you see the future of HR going or looking like in these businesses? Based on all of the pivots that you had to do through the pandemic. 

Traci Rubin: [00:19:15] Well to answer the second question or the second part of your question first, as far as the future of HR, I think it’s going to be even more people focused. And I really love that companies were outspoken about social justice, because I think it’s so important.

 we’re focused on people, right? So, when we think about social justice and standing up against racism, we all have an obligation to say those things and believe them because at the end of the day, we’re employing people and people need to feel safe at work. That is 1000%, our requirement as business leaders or owners, whatever function of an organization you sit in, we are empowered and obligated to provide a safe and inclusive workspace bottom line. Just from an anti harassment perspective alone. That is our requirement. And so in terms of the ways in which my job has changed, it’s just changed completely.

I’ve become relied on for keeping people safe. And while I just mentioned that, that was always true. It’s always been our obligation to provide a safe and inclusive workspace. COVID has made the term safe so much more intense. And back in March of 2020, my job changed forever. Our business changed forever.

We started closing our stores. We were closed for six months, roughly in some regions and without exaggeration, I was really working every single day, all day. And I became used to that. Now I have someone on my team who’s helping me out so that I’m not doing that anymore because obviously it’s not sustainable.

But I say that because it was so critical for me to provide hands-on support to my employees because not only are they thinking about the stability and security of their jobs. They’re also thinking about their wellbeing. When black lives matter was the biggest focus of our business and people outside of the pandemic, we also needed to make sure our people felt heard, knew they were heard and also had a platform to talk about what black lives matter and social justice meant to them. And so, quite literally when we were going through all of those very intense moments that the world kind of opened up for us, between the pandemic and social justice, every time someone called out,  and I certainly don’t want to make this sound so heavy, but anytime someone called out or found out that they were exposed to COVID, for example, I worried for their livelihood. I mean, that was how seriously I took my role in keeping our employees safe and I’m so proud to work for a company that got it right. I mean, we didn’t see the CDC guidelines as a recommendation. We saw the CDC guidelines as the exact guidelines that we were going to follow, non-negotiable. And so being able to say that compared to our peers who were taking those guidelines as more of a suggestion, we were able to say to all of our employees, your safety is number one, nothing else comes before your safety, not even the business and the results, nothing.

And we were able to keep everybody safe and continue to keep everybody safe. And even through like black lives matter, we had a lot of conversations about, that we can’t leave our lives at the door anymore. Work now brings everything in because it’s so closely connected to our personal lives. And so we allowed the space and grace, which has been my motto for the last 12 months, “space and grace”,  we’ve allowed everyone to have that space and grace to really be honest about how they were feeling, what was impacting them and in our inclusion survey, we received a lot of feedback that people felt so taken care of and supported during incredibly challenging and intense times in their lives.

Meghan Houle: [00:23:10] Wow. Well, I just want to say, first of all, we need more HR people like Traci in this universe.  And I’m sure as we talk about how our listeners can find you get ready for LinkedIn and your podcast to blow up, [I’m ready]. Look at people like, “Can I work for you? Like, let’s make this happen!”.   Thank you for that powerful message.

And what you were doing was just an extension of things that you already were doing prior to the pandemic of showing people that you care and that’s the heart of the matter.  In closing and everyone listening, get out a notepad paper,  let’s get some notes take in here as Traci. I’m sure arguably you’ve hired hundreds and interviewed thousands of people, right? Maybe arguably. Talk to us with this population,  with many people still looking for jobs, maybe struggling to land a new role,  would love your HR bird’s-eye view on a few things. So, what three things would you tell someone right now to do, to make sure they’re setting themselves up for success in a job process?

In terms of search, resume, LinkedIn, all of that, and with this massive candidate pool, what do you feel like really makes somebody stand out? 

Traci Rubin: [00:24:21] For starters, a clean resume without grammatical errors. It seems like that would be an obvious first choice. It’s not so obvious. I’ve seen a lot of really bad resumes recently and it makes no sense considering the competition.

So, start there. The second and I actually just recommended this to someone who reached out to me on LinkedIn. Practice interviewing in a mirror, look at yourself, ask yourself questions and record it so you can watch it back. And it’s instant feedback. I did that in college and I was mortified by the amount of times I touched my hair.

And so now going into interviews, I always think about that. Oh, I shouldn’t touch my hair. It’s going to make me look like I’m fidgeting, for example. So, that’s a huge help. And then the third is really to just keep hustling, appreciate the rejection. Don’t let it stop you. Let it motivate you. Flip the negative on its head and make it a positive.

You were rejected for a reason. That just means that the job that you’re meant to be in is still out there. And so keep networking, use your resources and connections, get referrals when you can and just don’t stop hustling. 

Meghan Houle: [00:25:27] I know we, talk about this and you talk about it in your podcast, but it’s also the follow-up right?

It’s not just one email and a prayer that gets you a job. I’m like, Oh, I’ve never heard back from anybody, but I’m like, how many times did you try that? I think I had to email a client seven times the other day, and they’re like, “Oh, sorry. I’m just getting back to you!”. Like that’s okay. But everyone’s busy and our inboxes are insanity , across the board working non-working I mean, it’s a lot of things still going on. So, also I would say maybe you agree, it’s just like, keep following up, but not in a naggy way, professional of course, but what’s your advice there for, I think that’s another frustrating point for a lot of people is like, I don’t hear anything back.

Any best practices in terms of follow-up that you would share? 

Traci Rubin: [00:26:13] I think you hit the nail on the head that persistence is key. And actually I have an anecdote here. The consultant that I was just mentioning, I hired for my team to support with COVID and other projects. She was someone that we interviewed for a totally different role previous, like back in 2020, and she was persistent.

She did talk to me about my podcast. She had a lot of questions, which is not why she got the role, I should preface, that is not why we interviewed a lot of people, but she reached out to me on LinkedIn. Any time I posted something, she would comment. She messaged me on LinkedIn whenever there was something that came up that was interesting.

Or if she watched me on a live event and I would strongly suggest that you consider being persistent. And I think it’s all about how we follow up. Like, I think it’s in the communication. It’s the things that we say because what I was able to tell from her persistence and the reason why I was like, I know exactly who we’re going to hire for this consultant role, was because I could tell the kind of leader and the kind of support that she would provide in the role without even having to interview her specifically on those points.

So, if something came up about talking through a difficult situation, her response or her comment that was thoughtful and, intentional, and really focused on key elements of being in a people centric role showed me that she was ready for that type of position. And so when it comes to people reaching out and following up, it’s kind of like dating, like don’t just say, “Hey, how are you?”. No, one’s going to respond to that. So, if you’re single take that as a tip also, don’t lead with that, keep it interesting and be creative. 

Meghan Houle: [00:27:55] And specific, and don’t be afraid to reach out and comment and engage .  It’s so important and it really gets to show your personality as well.

So much now we’re doing is a little more behind the scenes than ever with all the zooms and the interviews.  I can’t remember the last in-person interview we were working on, maybe sometime last year. So, you got to get good at using all the tools that we have access to. And I love your practice in the mirror as that’s what it’s all about.

Practice, feeling confident, putting yourself out there in the right way. And gosh, this has been such an amazing conversation. And as I was saying before I’m sure that we’ll be able to continue conversations with having our listeners find you, connect with you,  listening to your podcasts. So, tell us how we can find you in your various channels. 

Traci Rubin: [00:28:42] Yeah. So, on every  platform, I’m @hrtraci, that’s HR T-R-A-C-I. So, I’m on Instagram, Clubhouse, LinkedIn, and I have a website, hrtraci.com, where you can get linked to all of the platforms I’m on. And of course my podcast is also available on all platforms. Everything is kind of linked in every single place. 

Meghan Houle: [00:29:02] Amazing. Make it easy, ond stop shop for all things, HR. So, thank you so much, Traci Rubin, your pivot story is very powerful and I know you have so much valuable HR advice that you’ve shared with us. And I personally look forward to keeping an eye on all you’re doing and I’m sure our listeners are too.

So, stay tuned listen in to Traci’s podcast and thanks so much for being a part of Pivot with Purpose. We really appreciate all your support. 

Traci Rubin: [00:29:27] Thank you so much for having me. 

FC Podcasts: [00:29:31] Pivot with Purpose  with host Megan Houle is a Fashion Consort, production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corinne and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music, learn more at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 4

On this episode of Pivot with Purpose, we talk toDr. Jacqueline Bouley Price, Chiropractor, Holistic Health Coach, and Director at Beautycounter sharing her story on how she pivoted through fear, to launch multiple businesses to align with her most authentic self and serve her community with other incredible offerings while sharing her love for cooking and balancing a healthy lifestyle.

Jacqueline began helping women as a chiropractor, specializing in pre and postnatal health in 2008.

After holistically trading her chiropractic patients, propelled by her own health and fitness journey, she decided to follow her passions to help others with their whole health becoming a certified holistic health coach in 2018.  Jacqueline has coached hundreds of clients to change their habits and find a better relationship with food and their bodies.

You can follow Jacqueline and all her powerful advice on Instagram- @livewellwithjacqueline

Should you be interested in Beautycounter products, connect directly with Jacqueline at www.beautycounter.com/jacquelinebouley

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives, more purposefully, and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Megan Houle, a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Megan Houle Method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:33] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host, Megan Houle. And in this episode, we talk to Dr. Jacqueline Bouley Price, chiropractor, holistic health coach, and director at Beautycounter.

FC Podcasts: [00:00:46] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host Megan Houle, you can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally, be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Your support amplifies our books. And now this week’s episode.

Meghan Houle: [00:01:21] Jacqueline began helping women as a chiropractor, specializing in pre and postnatal health in 2008. After holistically trading her chiropractic patients, propelled by her own health and fitness journey, she decided to follow her passions to help others with their whole health becoming a certified holistic health coach in 2018.  Jacqueline has coached hundreds of clients to change their habits and find a better relationship with food and their bodies. And coaches clients all over the world. Jacqueline I’m so excited to have you in the Pivot with Purpose podcast. How are you? 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:01:55] Oh my gosh, Megan. I’m so excited to be here today. Thank you for having me. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:00] Yeah, my pleasure. And I know that you and I love to talk and as we had connected before, there’s so many good nuggets to look forward to in this conversation. So, with everybody listening, grab a notebook, settle in and let’s get this party started, shall we.

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:02:15] Let’s do it. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:18] So, I love Jacqueline, that we have organically really built our relationship over the past few years with not only our mutual enjoyment of fitness and connecting on so many levels. I love all of the positive messages that you share out in the community with your community and beyond.

And in our previous conversations, we’ve talked about some of your pivots and I’m certainly looking forward to sharing your story with our Pivot with Purpose podcast listeners tuning in. And with that, I would love for you to tell us about where your pivot began leading into your transition and all you have created as we head into 2021 and the beginning of this year. So, tell us a little bit about your story. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:02:56] Absolutely. So, as you mentioned I’m a chiropractor by training. And I started my practice back in 2008, and I love helping people with a natural purpose. Just really understand how their bodies can be healthy without the help with drugs or surgery.

And I ran a very successful practice for 12 years. I also understood during this time as my job was very physical and also as a giver and in a caretaking profession, it can be very exhausting. I was having burnout at about five years in, and I really started to question at that time, Gosh I’m trained as a chiropractor, but like what else could I do with my life?

And that’s when the wheels started to spin. And I started to really take a look at, was there somewhere else that I wanted to explore? And it took about another five years for me to gain a little bit of courage to think about what that might be. And I really was looking in so many different directions. But the thing is, is I realized you just got to look at what you know. And I feel like we could explore that so much.

Meghan Houle: [00:04:02] Yeah. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:04:03] At about 10 years into my practice, first of all, I told myself and I think this is so critical, I gave myself permission. I said, I can practice for up to 10 years and I can do whatever it is that I want after that. I feel like I have, well at that point then, reached a benchmark in my practice I’ll have made it so it was good to go to school and it was okay to have paid the money that I did for my student loans and that I could, pursue other adventures.

The pivot there’s a couple of times where the pivot did happen. But really what I started spinning the wheels at that 10 year mark. And when I started to make my exit strategy from retiring from chiropractic and moving to full online health coaching about two years later. 

Meghan Houle: [00:04:49] Yeah, I know I would love it.

I know you have so many good pivots to talk about, but maybe in transitioning from being chiropractor, to really taking on this health coach, was there a certain memorable point in that journey, that led up to that pivot and tell us what you did specifically. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:05:06] There’s two, actually.

So, when I, so this is a little woo-woo I’m not sure if you know this part of the story, I had a birthday and I was turning 38 and I had a Reiki Master session and it was my first in-person session. And I had been working with Joanie on and off for 10 years. And she did this shakra opening on my throat chakra.

And you know  anything about throat chakra, is that’s basically where you start to speak your truth and she did an attunement and all of a sudden it became so crystal clear to me what I needed to do. And I started putting all the wheels in motion   I went and signed up for that Institute for integrative health to get my certification in health coaching.

And I started making the transition in laying the foundation and stonework, basically in the path of how I could become a holistic health coach and build that business online. So, there was a pivot there. So, that was building up for two years while I was working with chiropractic clients. I was hustling really, really hard and then COVID hit.

And again, Jody came into my life again because I said, you know what, something’s going on. I had obviously shut chiropractic for the time being, because of all the  restrictions and everybody was in quarantine. I called up Jody and I was cleaning out my office and I’d found a session from her when we had been on the phone together as well.

And this is also a very woo woo. I always take notes with her and she had said, there will be a virus that will knock you down, but it’s not going to destroy you. And I lost it. That was the moment I shut down chiropractic. I retired and I said, it’s been a wonderful 12 years. I called up Jody and I’m like, yeah, I am ready to go full-time into holistic health coaching because she has shared with me, she’s like, look, you’re meant to be on a stage. You’re meant to be bigger than what you’re just doing in that office. And I didn’t understand what she meant. I’m like, I’m not going on a stage to speak, what are you talking about? But it ended up being my Instagram and being able to share with people all around the world, my thoughts and beliefs on how we can all take better care of ourselves from a loving, wonderful place by working on habits and self care.

Meghan Houle: [00:07:14] So, Jacqueline talk to me a little bit about the realization of your pivot and working with your Reiki master and really releasing some of those realizations and thoughts, but as you pivoted into this health coach, was it a need potentially for more alignment to your personal goals? Or was it related to something else?

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:07:35] I would absolutely say that it was related to alignment for my personal goals and where I wanted to go, but I just didn’t know it at the time or I wasn’t giving myself that permission. So, I felt like I kept hitting the ceiling of my potential growth. When I was able to just say, you know what, I know that I have more to say, I know that I can help more people than just who are in this wonderful, small little office that I have.

That’s when I just said I have to get out and do this. Having been an entrepreneur forever actually,  especially since when I first started my business back in 2008, I knew what I needed to do. And I think a lot of times, having had that experience definitely allowed me to make the pivot a lot easier than somebody who’s never really started a business before.

I think a lot of it too was just closing in on 40 and just saying, I want to do this. Nothing’s going to get in my way. So, let’s just do this. And let’s, put the fear aside, even though don’t get me wrong, the fear was absolutely still there because to stop what I’ve been doing and when I’ve been knowing for so long and to go into a little bit of unknown definitely scary, a little fear inducing, but my dear friend Hori, they call it nervcited.

I was nervous and excited. Your body doesn’t know the difference between both. And so when you give yourself that. It really changes it from fear and you actually get excited about what’s the potential, where’s this growth going to take me, where’s this pivot going to take me? 

Meghan Houle: [00:09:07] Yeah. I love that. And I think what hopefully resonates with potential listeners is the fact that I think many people in the beginning of 2020 that were in these jobs and had these businesses, that they were working 10, 15, 20 plus years that were also really given no choice, but to pivot as they were furloughed or laid off or someone like you. And very much like me that was sitting with something in their soul. Like I want to do more. I want to have a different way to serve and to share my platform and my thoughts and ideas.

I think for, them, I would love to have you talk about what you did to really begin that pivot. And maybe some of the steps that you took, who got involved, like talk to us a little bit about that pivot journey. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:09:54] Sure. So, the journey I was mentioning before, about two years in the making, even though some people might feel like, Oh, you just left chiropractic and you became a health coach, but it really was two years.

And so I had taken the course online for the Institute for integrative nutrition. So I was again, laying the foundational work, but don’t forget like, in chiropractic school, I learned about nutrition and health coaching. Myself I’ve had my own personal health journey and I was someone who has been on constant diets and was trying to find what brings me joy with fitness.

And I was listening to, what I think my body should look like versus what I wanted to look like and what brings me joy and happiness. I hired my own coach about three years ago and I worked with her. And through that exploration, I really found my true happy place of my body and my mind and my spirit.

And I thought,” Holy smokes, like I got to teach other women how to do this”  so, I started online just on Instagram, my own little corner of, “Hey, these are my thoughts, these are my ideas.”  Here’s what I think that we can do as far as like being kind to ourselves, forming habits, allowing ourselves the permission to eat what we like, but not have fear around that.

And then being able to just reach our strength goals in loving ourselves, I think it’s really just a sweet space to be, but a lot of women don’t know how to land there and they get confused. And so I kind of took my own experience and said, how can I make this so people can feel inspired or maybe make one step in the right direction.

So, I just started sharing on Instagram, but I have to tell you as somebody who is going into that space at 38, I totally had imposter syndrome. I was like, first of all, there’s a ton of health coaches out here, who’s going to want to listen to me? I also thought I’m 38 like, am I on the backend of this?

Like, there’s other chicks out here maybe, maybe they look better. Maybe their bodies are better. Maybe they know more. Maybe they’re writing cookbooks. Maybe they’re more fit than I am. Whatever, all of these things that we can tell ourselves, these limiting beliefs, right. These lies. But I was stuck, I did get stuck in that because when you’re scared or you’re exploring something that’s new, you may want to try to find a place to escape and be like, Oh, I don’t want to do this, you know what, this wasn’t right. I probably shouldn’t have done this, but again, that entrepreneur mindset. Nothing was going to get in my way of having this best truth be spoken and then for me to grow.

So, I started exploring it. It was scary. I did decide my nutrition coach, she actually pivoted herself into business coaching,  so, I did hire her and I was able to, and I still, connect with her on a regular basis to help myself be supported. To have myself be accountable. To help myself have a cheerleader. Someone who’s on my side to run ideas by. And that I have also somebody who just says,” Hey, it’s okay if you don’t want to do this.” When you’re an entrepreneur, you think you have to go, go, go all the time. But if there’s anything that I learned in 2020, as much as I did launch myself into this business really intensely, I also learned to slow down.

Meghan Houle: [00:13:16] Which is so hard for us worker bees, right? Like everything was just like halted completely out of our control and we’re like, slow down. What does that mean? I have to be productive and I talk about this all the time too. It’s just like, you’re really working against yourself.

If you’re forcing and stressing yourself every day to be the most productive. And what does that even mean? So, I love this advice and in the spirit of this podcast and leaving some cliffhangers before we take a little quick break. Yes or no, we’d love to hear. Do you remember the exact moment when you decided to go for it to pivot?

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:13:49] Yes

Meghan Houle: [00:13:50] And with that, we’ll be going to a quick break and we will pick this up when we get back.

So, before the break Jacqueline, you said yes. Tell us about that moment. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:14:15] I said yes with such conviction because it’s so it was so clear. I see it as just a bright moment when the fog lifted and I was like, I’m doing this. I was walking with one of my best friends, Lisa and my goddaughter, Nora. We were walking in the street and the sun was shining.

It was a cold day in March and I just looked at her and I said, I’m doing this. And she’s like, you should. And I drove home and I said, Jonathan, to my husband, you know what, I’m retired from chiropractic. And I feel so good about that. And the fear was lifted because when you make the decision that you’re going to pivot, all of a sudden, for me, I just got so crystal clear on what it is that I wanted to do.

Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do anything differently. But I have to say when I became so obvious to me that this is what I was going to do, a lot of the other shoulds just kind of fell away. Yeah. Yeah. 

Meghan Houle: [00:15:18] That’s such a great story. I feel like we all have those.

We call them aha moments.  Right. In coaching were like, I’m going to do this. So, to get this going and really to get started, was there any research that you had to do? Did you need financing? Like talk to us a little bit about how you started building this. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:15:34] Absolutely. So, with health coaching, again, I was fortunate enough with chiropractic school. I definitely had a background having been someone who’s been on a diet since she was 14, all kinds of different diets. I had my own personal research of exploring that. So, besides not only going to do the online programming that I did, I actually just got on Instagram and followed a lot of accounts that inspired me.

I also unfollowed accounts that did not inspire me because I think it’s just as important to learn what you don’t like as it is to learn what you do like, and you have to find your authentic voice. And I think that maybe was one of the most challenging. Isn’t the right word. Scary is not it either confusing.

I’m not sure. I feel like in the very beginning, that was my biggest question mark, because Instagram is a really bizarre place. And there’s a lot of people who curate a life in you’re one person there, and you’re a totally different human on the other side. I’m not that at all, what you see is what you get.

And I think in the beginning, my question was how much of my life do I share? And I really wanted to be honest about that and I knew that was going to evolve, but at the time I thought I had to know, okay, I’m sharing my dog. I’m going to share a little bit of my husband. I’m going to share a lot of food and some workouts and have that be it. Fast forward, two years little did I know, I would be sharing vulnerable pieces of my life and the fact that we moved our home and the process of how I work through the times that are challenging, being able to be vulnerable is what makes us relatable.

Meghan Houle: [00:17:20] Oh yeah. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:17:21] And that authenticity has like grown in such a beautiful way. That makes me feel just so rooted and has given me the confidence to just be here. But that honestly took me about 9 to 12 months to really feel solid and secure and about what I was sharing and to really find the flow of my voice.

Meghan Houle: [00:17:39] That’s, I feel like how I was so attracted to you as well and just showing up every day, like this is me unapologetically, love that. And I know all of the wonderful things that you share on Insta. I beg you to cook for me all the time. A full-time chef, maybe that’s your next pivot?

I don’t know. But in really building this incredible community with your #girlswhogrill and you’re just like all about empowerment and really taking control of your own life, what has become your mission to serve and really spread those messages within your community to help others through your coaching.

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:18:15] I love that you said that. I think ultimately what’s shown up that, I don’t know if it’s surprised me, but it continues to like bring a tear to my eye and just fill my cup so much is that I get messages all the time from women who are saying, Jacqueline, you inspired me to buy my first knife and start cooking food in my kitchen, or I’m feeling confident to cook for my family now because I’m watching you, use spices in a way and I never felt good about that because I was scared nobody would like my cooking. Or I set up my bike trainer in my living room and I’m starting to move my body in a way that feels kind. Or, I mean, the messages that I get, or, here’s the thing, people won’t tell you this, this is again the funky thing about Instagram.

People can be watching you is totally voyeuristic and unless they slide into your DMs you have no idea. Right? Right. So, I love living in my DMs. I talked about this on my post today because I get inspired constantly by what people write into me about what they’re doing. But there can be people who are watching, not saying a word to you. And then a year later, like, “Oh, P.S I lost 40 pounds by all the things that you’ve talked about and I’ve been doing them.”  Wow. And I’m like, yeah, “Whoa, Holy smokes. That’s absolutely incredible. And I’m honored that you find that I inspire you to do the work.” You just never know who you’re making an impact for.

Yeah. And so I think, that’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes I wonder, I’m like, Oh my gosh, am I saying the right thing? Am I doing the right thing out here by people? And yeah, I’m not the right fit for everyone, but I certainly am helping way more people than I thought I ever could.

And that brings me joy. If I can create community and have. You know, I talk a lot about women. I have men coaches too, and they’re amazing humans, right? But I will say my definite demographic is helping a woman who is 35 to 50. She’s a mom, she’s got a couple of children. She’s trying to do it all.

And she’s put herself on the back burner. Right. And you can be a mom. You can be a mom with children that are humans, you can have fur children, like I do. You can have business children, they’re businesses that are babies, right? You can be a mom to all kinds of different things, but if you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.

So, really my mission is to help people fuel their bodies properly, to not villainize any type of food to find that balance. And then to also just be moving with kindness and with grace, because exercising to punish your body’s not a place that we want to live. You and I have met in a fitness studio.

I think that’s where we first started getting connected and that’s a community that has brought us together. And then we’ve been able to pivot that relationship now into a business relationship and to women who inspire each other relationship. Yeah. It’s pretty incredible. 

Meghan Houle: [00:21:17] It is, I love it. And I think, for you too, the reasons why I was so drawn to you again, is that you really stress the importance  of taking care of your mind, body and soul. And I’m also pretty jealous of your daily habits and rituals that keep you on track. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:21:33] That takes practice. 

Meghan Houle: [00:21:35] Tell me what keeps you on track. Let’s talk about those and share some best practices. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:21:39] Sure, well, I’m certainly not perfect. Okay, I am a human. I say this all the time. I’m like a human, not a robot. And I think that’s one of the reasons people are attracted to me sharing because I don’t expect perfection. I just want progress. And I want you to get back up tomorrow and try again if you don’t nail it the first time. And by the way, you’re probably not going to nail it. But if you get back up and you’re consistent, that’s all that I ever asked of you or myself for that matter.

So, when it comes to habits, I find that myself and then also my clients that I coach when we ground in one to two habits, that feels like a little bit of a footing and then we can move forward. We don’t need to do all the things all the time. And so being able to, if a habit is finding some space and time to have writing time in a gratitude journal.

Amazing. If it’s doing meal prep where you’re prepping a couple items that, you enjoy eating and that you can grab instead of making a choice that might not be in alignment with your goals. Amazing. If it’s a habit of working out. And when I say working out, what does that look like for you?

Is that blocking space and time in your calendar cause it’s a meeting with yourself and moving your body with intention. Is it joining a class? Is it doing a walk and talk with a girlfriend who you don’t get to see in person? Is it getting on that yoga mat and moving? Is it lifting some heavy stuff that make you feel powerful and strong?

Okay. Those are habits that I’ve created over space and time. That really bring me joy, ultimately, not just in my body, but in my mind, I was talking with my friend Francis yesterday, and we were talking about the changes that have happened for a lot of people’s bodies during COVID and corona, just aren’t moving how we were. People are gaining weight, they’re getting ill. Things are happening this way. It’s not uncommon at all. And he was saying, I don’t always enjoy working out. I’m like neither do I, but it’s funny cause people might look at my Instagram like, Oh, you love working out. I’m like, are you nuts. No!! I don’t! But I do it because I know that afterwards, I feel good.

My mind feels good. I feel empowered. I feel empowered in my brain space. My endorphins have been released. I feel stronger. And when I feel stronger, I feel like that means I can do something. And when I feel like I can do something and I did something for me, now I can do something for you. 

Meghan Houle: [00:24:13] Yeah, I love that.

Do good to feel good. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:24:16] You got it. 

Meghan Houle: [00:24:17] Well, and, with that lead in. Thanks so much, I know we talked about it a little bit in the intro, but I know you have some other pivots you’re currently managing in your business life right now. So, talk to us a little bit about Beautycounter.

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:24:28] Absolutely. So, this is a true story. I think on so many people who enter Beautycounter also have a cool story like this too. Well, like I said, your girl was turning 40. She had some eye wrinkles occurring and I also, I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition.

So, it became crystal clear to me I had to really clean up my personal care products, which are already pretty good to begin with, but I knew I could do even better. So, I was turned on my Beautycounter, their mission, the way that their products work and the quality of their products and how it really is just an amazing clean beauty product line.

But of course your girl, like needs them to work, so I started with the eye cream, right? I mean, I’m like, it’s all good if it’s natural, but then like, if this doesn’t work, it’s not for me. So, I started using the eye cream and I was blown away. And when I find something that works for me, I just want to share it. Again, same thing, with how I choose to eat food and how I meal prep food.

I was like, “Holy smokes, this Beautycounter stuff works. And it’s good for me. And there’s a business opportunity here. I think I want to do this”. So, I decided to leap with two feet in and explore the opportunity. But again, I was scared. I was scared. I was like, Oh my gosh. All right. There’s so many women out here doing Beautycounter already as a business.

Why does somebody want to listen to me? I’m not a beauty blogger or like, I know how to put on lipstick. But like you know what I mean? Like I’m not going to be doing makeup tutorials. And COVID hit. So, then all of a sudden, like we’re not being able to like get together in person to like use these products, but I didn’t let that stop me.

And I just like, gosh, how can I share the amazingness that Beautycounter is, not only in the company, but in the products and then in the opportunity? So, I took that again online to my Instagram, and just sharing authentically. It’s like, look, here’s my face. Here’s what I do. Here’s my eye cream, here’s my wrinkles.

I put on a little power lip for our podcast today. You can’t see it, but it’s little black dress. And I share that because I’m like look, like I’m a girl who doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, but when I do, I want to glam it up a little bit. I want to problem solve, you know, my skin and then if I can help problem solve yours, then I’m here for it.

So, I really just try to do one-on-ones with people again, who maybe pop into my DMs or ask me questions. And it’s that caring attitude that I’ve always had I mean, if you’re in a caring profession, you can just never have that go away. I’m a two on the Enneagram. I’m always wanting to nurture.

I always want to provide, I want to have an answer. I want to make you feel comfortable and at home. And so when people come to me and they need help, I help them. And then a lot of women, especially with, like you said, they had to pivot, they had to shift I have women who are telling me that, “Oh, my hours are getting cut.”

I had a girlfriend of mine today tell me this morning, “Oh, I’m maxing out of my salary in corporate America today, this is it!”  Even though she got more put on her plate at work and all I’m thinking is why are we not busting more on the Beautycounter side? Because you have no ceiling. If you want to work hard and hustle, you can make as much as you want.

So, I’m leading a team along with my business partner, Becky and what’s so fun is not only are these women starting to get more confident and build their Beautycounter businesses, but I get to inspire other women to be confident, to feel empowered, to share. And I think mentoring and staying connected in community is so critical right now, more than ever. 

Meghan Houle: [00:28:11] Yeah. And it leads into my next question. So, talk to me about that network of support of others in this pivoting process. How important do you feel like it is to have and who did you need to really help you to support all of your pivots as well? 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:28:25] I think it’s critical because if you do it, can you do it on your own? Absolutely. I think that you can also get in your own way in your own head. And you might feel who wants to hear from me, get that imposter syndrome. Oh, I had a woman’s slide into DM’s the other day and she said, you know,, I’m a mom, I have two kids, but everybody else here is always doing this, like, who needs to hear from me?

And I’m like, who doesn’t need to hear from you? You’re your own person. You’re your own voice.  Nobody has your voice. So, if somebody is not supporting you on the other side, you may let your dream die. But finding that community, so if it’s, if it’s a coach, if you’re investing in a coach, I think that this is critical.

I absolutely did that and I will be the first to tell you, when I first started investing in a coach, I led with a money mindset and I’m like, “Ugh, that’s expensive”, and do you know what that was? That was me saying I’m not worth it. That’s some tough love. I had to figure that one out myself. Yeah. And I was like, why would I say that to myself?

I was invalidating me that I’m not worth $750. That’s what it came to at the time, for me to learn how to eat for the rest of my life. How many hundreds or thousands of dollars have I spent on all this other support that never works? Oh my gosh. That’s a tiny amount for me to invest in me. From my business coaching, absolutely, I think it’s absolutely worth for me investing in a woman who’s willing to give me time out of her schedule to, again, cheerlead me to lead me, to inspire me. And then the community , that provides not only other ideas, but it provides a network, especially right now, when we’re all, either if you’re quarantined, if you’re working from home, if you’ve made a pivot or shift, we’ve moved recently, we moved an hour and a half away from where we previously were.

And so right now online community is so critically important to me. And so being able to have these weekly meetings with my Beautycounter team or being able to have my weekly check-ins with my clients where we’re all online. These are the ways that are staying connected. And again, building that foundation and that inspiration.

I just, I got to say, I never thought I was going to be a person who was working on her computer all the time. Cause I was in a hands-on profession for so many years. It’s been, it’s been really fantastic. 

Meghan Houle: [00:30:53] Oh, that’s so awesome. And then you have just so much lovely light and energy to share. And you’re right, I think we need each other so much more now than ever and missing all of those in person things that we’ll be all excited to get back to. But as I fearlessly talk about, don’t be afraid to reach out, to ask somebody for a conversation to join a community. I think it’s so important right now.

And for anyone looking to pivot Jacqueline, to maybe get out of their own way, what words of advice do you have for somebody? 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:31:25] Dream big. And don’t let anybody tell you no.  I had people tell me no. I absolutely did. And those were the reasons that I stayed as long as I did.

I wouldn’t change anything about the timing, no question about it, but I would absolutely, instead of listening to somebody say, “Oh, you don’t need to do that. Oh, you shouldn’t do that. Oh, why would you do that?”  I had to look inside. And when you surround yourself with other strong like-minded entrepreneurial women who are going to help you rise up that confidence is going to blossom inside you and your dreams can really come through.

Meghan Houle: [00:32:04] Yeah. I love that. Not listening to the I shoulds, but what do you want to do at the end of the day? What is in your soul? So, that’s so powerful and I am sure your DMs are going to continue to blow up after this podcast. Talk to me about how our listeners can find you and maybe keep the conversations going with you.

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:32:25] Absolutely. My favorite place to live is on Instagram. You can find me @livewellwithjacqueline. And like I said, I love hopping into DMs, answering questions, inspiring, getting connected. So, please don’t be shy and send me a message just saying hello. And that’s I think the best place, because I live in stories too.

And so come, come take a peek and  stick around if you like it. And if you don’t that’s okay too. 

Meghan Houle: [00:32:52] Yeah, but you will like it and you’ll get all kinds of meal ideas and beauty ideas, and  Jacqueline will be your new BFF. So, thank you so much. I so appreciate you. And again, our relationship we’ve built and thanks for coming on to this podcast, which has been such a big pivot for me, but I’m really happy to have it out in the universe and to be able to bring people like you to this community to serve further and extend your messaging out there. So, thank you so much. And everybody connect with Jacqueline. 

Jacqueline Bouley: [00:33:20] Thanks for having me. Bye Meghan. 

FC Podcasts: [00:33:24] Pivot with Purpose with host, Megan Houle, is a Fashion Consort production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corrine and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music, learn more at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 3

Dan Distefano is a Boston based health, wellness, real estate, and creative entrepreneur. Co-founder of The Print Hub, a screen-printing and apparel company, Yoke Media LLC, a boutique consulting agency specializing in digital media management, marketing strategy, photo and videography, and graphic design, and a real estate advisor at Engel and Volker’s, Dan has a passion for diving into competitive industries and figuring out how they complement each other to create a more cohesive and impactful product.
A lulu lemon ambassador, Dan is heavily involved in the fitness community as a workout enthusiast and Senior Barry’s Bootcamp Instructor. Dan’s portfolio of angel investments includes Ten Thousand Clothing Company, Way Of Life Athletics Company (WOLACO), and Slate Milk. Finding his calling for connecting with brands and like-minded people, Dan enjoys collaborating with driven innovators in the health, wellness, marketing, real-estate, and start-up industries.

You can find Dan’s various projects by visiting the links below and follow him on social media @pickles.7 on Instagram!

www.dandistefano.com
www.theprinthub.co
www.yoke.media
https://danieldistefano.evrealestate.com/

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives more purposefully and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Megan Houle, a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Megan Houle method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:33] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host, Megan Houle. And in this episode, we talk to Dan Distefano, a Boston based health wellness, real estate advisor, and entrepreneur.

Dan Distefano: [00:00:46] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host Megan Houle, you can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, your support amplifies our books. And now this week’s episode

Meghan Houle: [00:01:20] To mention a few of his projects, Dan is co-founder of the Print Hub, a screen printing and apparel company, Yolk Media, LLC. Dan is also heavily involved in the fitness community as a workout enthusiast, Senior Barry’s bootcamp instructor and Lululemon ambassador. Dan DiStefano, I am so excited to have you on the podcast.

And I know with all of your various ventures, the burning question we want to know is when do you actually sleep? 

Dan Distefano: [00:01:53] Meg, thank you so much for having me. It’s so good to hear your voice. It’s so good to see you. When do I sleep? Not often. I was going to say that’s probably one of the blessings of the pandemic.

The silver lining is there were no more 6:00 AM workout classes. So, I was able to sleep in until nine, a couple of times. 

Meghan Houle: [00:02:13] You’re like, yeah. But I’m sure all your peeps are missing you and soon we’ll be back at it again. So, enjoy this time. 

Dan Distefano: [00:02:20] I know I’m trying to find all the silver linings like I’m sure we all are.

Meghan Houle: [00:02:24] Totally. Well , I, so appreciate, like I said, you being here with us and, know you have a lot of projects that you are working on and I would love for you to tell us more about what you’re up to. 

Dan Distefano: [00:02:35] I mean that’s a loaded question, right, as someone who always tries to stay busy. But no, I mean, these days I have a screen printing, an apparel company based in Syracuse. We have a team there. My business partner runs the day to day. They’re all absolutely fantastic. I have so much love for them. Yolk Media is more of my like marketing consulting stuff, where I do per diem work for different brands and clients. And then my newest venture that came out of the pandemic was real estate advising. So, I’m about five months into that now, but I would say it’s more or less a couple of hundred hours then. So, we’re definitely putting in the time where we need to.

Meghan Houle: [00:03:09] Yeah. Wow. No, I know you’re been balancing a lot and certainly so excited to talk about all your pivots and how they all come together, but maybe you can give us a little insight or highlights into your impressive career journey. 

Dan Distefano: [00:03:23] I appreciate that. I would say I graduated school in 2015. I moved back to Syracuse. I started a master’s of biochemistry. But during that time, I took my first spin class. Studio based fitness was pretty new. And I absolutely fell in love with it. It was everything I loved of life, which I didn’t know at the time, but I can kind of put into words now, interacting with people an, energetic club atmosphere.

And of course, just getting a great group of people together and getting sweaty, right, trying to better yourself. 

Meghan Houle: [00:03:51] We need to get you back on the bike by the way, not to interrupt. Okay. So 

Dan Distefano: [00:03:57] You’re going to get me fired by Barry’s.  So I can’t say anythingn about that!

Meghan Houle: [00:03:59] No, just kidding. Sorry, Barry. 

Dan Distefano: [00:04:01] I know I’m kidding. But no, if you believe it or not, I probably taught 3000 spin classes before I moved to Boston two years ago. I had an awesome mentor. I think one of the keys to my success, I’ve always had people I’ve looked up to that have led me in the right direction and kind of have helped me focus my talents and my goals. And of course my energy into productive ways. But no, I started doing a lot of work out in New York city and by work, I mean, I was just networking, driving down there, meeting with brands, working out.

And through that I met some awesome people and that led to the opportunity where I was looking to move end of 2018, early 2019 for personal reasons. And I met the team here in Boston the Barry’s team, and I just said, Hey, if you ever have an opportunity, please give me a call. That was late 2018, early 2019. I got the phone call. They said, “Hey, we have a spot opening up! When would you like to move?” And I said, “I’m packing my dog up. I’m packing the couch in the U-Haul and we’ll be there in a month.”. So, that’s kind of like the fast track way, but it’s crazy to think fo almost five years now have already gone by. 

Meghan Houle: [00:05:06] I know, time flies. So, how long have you been in Boston again? 

Dan Distefano: [00:05:11] So, I’ll be up in Boston, it’ll be two years coming up March  of 2021. So, we’re just shy of two years. 

Meghan Houle: [00:05:17] Great city I know, we here in the community in Boston so love you and appreciate you. And know you do so much to motivate so many people, but what really motivates you?

How have you stayed motivated amiss 2020, the pandemic. I know you’re a super active guy, so, and watching your Instastories and kind of working out where you can. It hasn’t been easy for people, right? So, what do you feel like, keeps you motivated?

Dan Distefano: [00:05:43] This past year, hasn’t been easy for anyone yet, right, like everything’s been thrown for a loop, turned upside down. That’s kinda my last pivot that I’m sure we’ll dive into was in March,  when I decided, or when I decided to start studying for my real estate test that was kind of a multiple streams of influence coming together.

But I think at the end of the day, as I kind of decide if I’m going to get out of bed, I’m going to give it my best effort. And it looks something different every day. But what I realized what I’m really good at is kind of showing up for my people. And that takes many different forms.

Sometimes it’s mentally, sometimes it’s physically, sometimes it’s energetically, sometimes it’s emotional. So, I just kind of understand that it’s on me to make the most of my day. 

Meghan Houle: [00:06:30] It’s so important and, yeah. In the spirit of this podcast where we certainly dive into pivots, I would love to hear the story that really led to the desire for you to pivot, at that memorable point in your career and really what led up to that pivot and what did you do specifically? 

Dan Distefano: [00:06:47] Yeah, I mean, it seems like it was yesterday, right? That like I made the pivot, made the decision to try something new. I was just kind of at a point where I’ve been in fitness for five years now and I was looking for the next kind of opportunity to grow simultaneously with Barry’s.

I love Barry’s. It’s fantastic. I love the fitness industry. Especially the people in it, both on the instructor and the clientele side. So, of course, like through fitness, you meet so many people. Back in the day, I used to  see 50 to a hundred unique faces a day, meeting people with all those relationships, they start following you on social media.

Obviously I enjoy social media. I think a lot of people know that, but from a more business professional aspect, it’s kind of a way to manage your friendships. Right? You see people living their lives. You learn a lot about people who are posting and it’s also a great way for people to keep tabs on you.

But so through the fitness industry, I was doing some work for Bright Bar, some of their apparel. I did get a spray tan. No, you can not see the picture of me and the spray tan diaper. That’s for, that’s for another time

It’s on the internet somewhere. But no, so the owner of the real estate company, her daughter was who I worked with closely and she is like, “Hey, I think you should meet my mom! She’s looking to have some merchandise done. Go ahead and sit down with her schedule it.”. This was February of 2020.

And I sat down and we ended up hanging out for two hours. We didn’t say a word about merchandise. All we did was talk about dreams, aspirations, goals like not even financial goals, but more about like, where do we see our lives going? And at the end of it, they were like, “Hey, our team is going to be hiring. If you’re interested, let us know, go get your real estate license.”. And this was in February and I was kinda like, Oh, like, I appreciate that, like, I always appreciate at the end of the day, when people think about me for opportunities, right? Like, Oh, Dan might like this, or Dan might be good at this. Or we’d like to have Dan on our team.

I really take a lot of pride in being reliable and relatable. But at the time I kinda shouldered off the nod. I was like, no, I love fitness. Fitness is life. Fitness is bae. And I was also teaching probably 20 to 25 classes a week. So, I was staying pretty busy. And then March happened, right.

Everything shut down and this is going to be a surprise to everybody listening, but I’m very high energy. I always enjoy being on the go. The reason I don’t nap is because I’m always on my feet. And then right, like Monday rolls around no classes, nothing to do. You can’t leave your apartment.

You can’t go work out. I am sitting in the corner of my apartment being like, holy shit. Like, and it wasn’t even a financial thing at the time, it was just like, I have all this energy and I’m in my routine and I’m jamming. And now it’s like, boom, out of your routine. And with that being said, I kind of looked at what industries were still able to kind of maintain their integrity.

And as we all know, the Boston housing market is insanely expensive or can be. And it was just perfect timing to kind of go back to the drawing board. I’m still with Barry’s full-time I have so much love for them, but also find a new possible career opportunity. 

Meghan Houle: [00:10:11] Yeah, no, I love that.

Yeah. And I know you stay so motivated, sorry not to cut you off, but yeah. I think people keep you in mind because you are that amazing light and energy and always kind of open to whatever possibilities are next. Right? 

Dan Distefano: [00:10:25] Yeah. I appreciate that. But also, I mean, I feel like at my age, I’m 28, I’m single.

Like, I don’t think life should be like hard per se, but I don’t think life should be easy. Like I think we should feel the need to test ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and kind of like figure out what we’re capable of. And in that, we kind of figure out that like, wow, I have all the tools inside of me to make my dreams a possibility, right. No matter what they are. 

Meghan Houle: [00:10:55] So, tell me, do you feel like your pivot was almost a realization of a personal need maybe for more alignment or do you feel like it was related to something else and looking at real estate. 

Dan Distefano: [00:11:07] I think the pivot was an opportunity that I’ve always enjoyed working with people.

I love being in the service industry. And I could never really put that to words until I joined another service industry. But also too, I was looking for the next challenge. And I kind of stack those on top of them with the pandemic and studying and learning a new industry, being not bad at something but being inexperienced, right? So, I kind of didn’t know what I was getting myself into. And I also have a very high expectation of what I’m capable of and I hold myself to a high standard. So, like when I pivoted, I was like, this will be awesome, it’s so new, it’s so fun. And then. Like anything new, you get into the trenches, right?

You’re in a competitive industry. You’re not doing well. You’re not making money. You’re not meeting people. I personally, I hate studying probably because I have to sit down to do it. Like if someone was like, Hey, if you run a marathon, you’ll learn everything you need to know. I will go run the marathon twice right? So, it’s also kind of reminding myself that life’s not going to be easy. Like you have to do things you don’t like, so you have to find value in the process, whatever it may be. 

Meghan Houle: [00:12:16] Super valuable advice, and sometimes you just have to do it, right. You just get up, you have the tools inside of you and believing in yourself.

I mean, that’s one of the best things that we can do this day and age. Believe in yourself, just start, that’s all you have to do right? And leverage your network as we talk about a lot too, which I know you’re super connected and in the spirit of also kind of working through cliffhangers in our podcast, want to ask you, and then we’ll go to a little break.

Do you remember yes or no, the exact moment you decided to go for it, to pivot? 

Dan Distefano: [00:12:48] No, but I remember the exact four months it sucked. 

Meghan Houle: [00:12:52] Amazing. And with that well, with that we’ll go to a quick break and leave everyone hanging and we will pick this up when we get back.

Okay, Dan, before the break, you said no, leaving us hanging. So, can you describe the transition when you began to work towards your pivot? 

Dan Distefano: [00:13:23] So, the transition was extremely challenging.  When you start something new it’s very hard, but as you become more skilled, more experienced, you know what to expect you gain that confidence, right?

And with that confidence, you start to fire on a little bit more like gas, couple more cylinders. But you realize like,  I kinda got this. So, I don’t remember the exact moment I pivoted, but I remember those couple months where I was like very new at something, nothing was firing, nothing was hitting and I also didn’t know what to expect right? Like I think that’s one of the reasons I got into real estate is because it’s a pretty, when it’s your first time doing that, it’s a pretty known industry. You don’t know what to expect. So, the goal was to take the trust that people have with me and fitness and my other ventures and show them that here’s an industry, not many people know about that they can trust me to take care of them.

Meghan Houle: [00:14:16] So, tell me what did you do to really begin the pivot? Maybe some of the steps that you took, who got involved? I’d love to hear about that. 

Dan Distefano: [00:14:23] So, the first step, it’s so plain Jane, is just go sign up online and study. Which for me is such a barrier to entry. Like, I said it before, if someone was like, “Hey, let’s go work out or let’s go run or let’s do something, physical.”. That’s what I’m good at. That’s what I’m used to. So, I know I can show up for that, but someone’s like, “Hey, you need to sit down and study for a hundred hours and you don’t know what’s going to be on the test.”. I’m like,  how do I do  this? And I’m used to such an active lifestyle. So, not only is it that I’m in a new industry where I don’t know what to expect, but I’m also not used to my habits and my stimulation of my normal day-to-day life.

Meghan Houle: [00:15:06] So, in getting into the real estate, did you feel like you had to do a lot of research? Did you need any financial backing? And I guess how are you balancing it all to, with what you have going on at Barry’s? 

Dan Distefano: [00:15:16] So, one of the things I love about fitness, and this is kind of true, depending if you’re a contractor or have a gym or real estate, is that there’s no inventory. I’ve been in manufacturing for four years now. And there’s just so many processes. It’s so much money to start a manufacturing company, just because you need the equipment, you need the payroll, you need the inventory. Some people don’t pay for 30 days. Some people don’t pay for 60 days.

So, it’s a very hard industry to get ahead of in, but one of the things I enjoy about fitness and real estate is that you don’t really have inventory, right? Like I’m a contractor with Barry’s. I’m a contractor with personal training. I’m also a contractor with real estate. So, my overhead is kind of marketing materials.

What else, essentially, what I’m saying is all I have to do is show up, like bare minimum. 

Meghan Houle: [00:16:09] And I guess how’s the outcome been for you and balancing both and what’s going on in the real estate industry as you’re right I mean, I think everyone’s looking to pivot real estate as well and apartments, moving out of the city.

How has that been like for you  in that, and the classes that you’re leading still? 

Dan Distefano: [00:16:25] Yes. So a lot of people are pivoting into real estate whether they’re looking to buy or sell, but also as a career choice . One thing that’ll get people a good laugh is my first day in the office, once I got my license was September and everyone’s used to me, not wearing a shirt, not wearing sleeves, not having a collared shirt and my boss.

And this is like my boss, like very well-respected in the industry. He’s an awesome advisor. He’s like, “Hey Dan, can you come into the office today?”.  And I’m like, “Keith, honestly, I would love to. I need to go to Express and go buy a college shirt and I need to go buy a pair of slacks.”.

Meghan Houle: [00:17:00] What Express? Where is Express? And I love you. 

Dan Distefano: [00:17:05] Most important question. It’s Express outlet up in a Summerville. 

Meghan Houle: [00:17:08] Oh, okay. There you go everyone–

 Dan Distefano: [00:17:11] That’s one of the things I’ve tried to explain to people, right, is that you can be whoever you want. And I feel like we’re always changing every four, every five, every six years, somewhat quicker.

But that’s the beautiful thing, right? It’s like if someone met me today and I was in my shirt and my slacks and my peacoat and I said, “Good morning, I’m Dan what do I do? I consult on people how to take advantage of the real estate market in Boston.”. They would have no idea I’m a fitness trainer, right?

So like, that’s kind of the cool thing about life is you are what you put out to the world. Yeah. And I think sometimes we get caught up in our own head pretty quickly. 

Meghan Houle: [00:17:49] I love that. And I guess it transitions nicely into my next question where not to throw some acronyms at you, but what has become that unique selling proposition now for you with all you are able to manage real estate, all these wonderful entrepreneurial businesses you’re running.

What’s your USP? 

Dan Distefano: [00:18:06] What’s a, a USP, can you describe it to me? 

Meghan Houle: [00:18:08] So it’s unique selling proposition. So, why Dan, why work with you? Why come to your classes? When someone needs you, what’s that elevator pitch? 

Dan Distefano: [00:18:16] Wow, put on the spot. No, I think one of the biggest things I’ve realized is it’s my energy for life and it’s genuine.

Once you become my person, I’m going to take care of you. So, it’s like kind of like my energy. I can transfer it to other people, whether it’s a nice conversation or connection or even just like a, Hey, like someone in this world is in my corner. Right? Like it felt, I mean last year, and especially being this year, like times felt pretty dreary.

And it’s just kind of like showing people, Hey, I know there’s a lot going on, but we can also be productive during it, right? Like, I think it’s kind of how you handle your emotions. But I think one of the biggest things, right, with like the Black Lives Matter movement is it’s a phenomenal movement, but how does, and I think what a lot of people have trouble with is, how does Dan  Distefano sitting in his Boston apartment contribute.

Right? And I think part of that is I am blessed that I have an awesome network and I know what I’m good at and how I can contribute to different causes. But  I think it’s just knowing that like the first part is I’m on your team. And the second part is how I leveraged my network, right? So, I’m a kind of a marketer at heart.

I love creating interesting videos, like just like constant advertising, right? Like how do you take a video and how do you make it interesting that catches people’s attention. And specifically, what’s worked well in Barry’s and now bringing it to an older market, like real estate. And taking like unique marketing tactics, like one of the things I want to do and I can’t share this right now, you have to see it. But I have these awesome ideas on how to market these properties and kind of connect pieces of the puzzle, right? 

Meghan Houle: [00:20:10] No. I, know you’re so savvy on social media and it’s the world we live in now. It’s so important to put yourself out there in the right ways and really showcase what you can do.

I always say, no one is going to know what you’re doing unless you tell them, but it’s the way that we share and the channels that we share and the strategy behind that, and being super creative, which I know you are as well. And to really go back to talking about your network, I mean, I also know in this Boston community, which is like so small and so wonderfully supported, how important do you feel like it is to have that network of support of others in this , process, whether someone’s looking to pivot or just in general? How has that been important to you and how do you feel like that would be important for somebody else to really start to leverage their network, if they’re looking to pivot? 

Dan Distefano: [00:20:55] Yeah, I think it is the most important thing.

My goal with anybody I meet is to build trust with them, right? Whether it’s a friendly conversation, a Barry’s class, a real estate transaction, a printing transaction, whatever it is, even if I’m buying coffee at the Starbucks, like. My beginning goal is to make someone feel that they trust me. And that sounds very salesy, but it’s just kind of like being a good human, right.

But the beautiful thing about as I kind of navigate industries is there’s these people and everybody has these people they’ll support you no matter what, right? Like I could call someone and be like, “Hey, I think i’m going to go into glassblowing.”. And they’re like, “Okay, go do it I’ll buy your first product.”.

Hey, I’m going to go into gardening. Okay, perfect, come plant trees with me or whatever it is. You’re always going to have those people that will take the risk with you to support you throughout your first endeavor right? And also too, like not even from a financial incentive, just an emotional incentive, like.

How many times have you had a bad day and you have a phone call with a friend or a third party, or even a DM exchange, right? It doesn’t have to be this big extravagant experience, but it’s just like, someone’s being like, you know it’s going to be okay or someone’s like, Hey, passing off their positive energy to you.

Cause it’s hard to stay positive every day, a hundred and ten percent. 

Meghan Houle: [00:22:19] Yeah. And it’s so nice and I think that’s why I so appreciate you as well. You’re so real and accessible and relatable and authentic, and it can be intimidating, right? When you have somebody that is such a big personality like you.  And I know for the people that show up at Barry’s. And I remember going to the first Barry’s class, I don’t know, seven years ago now with Barry that, you know, you’re right. Well, you think like the instructors are like, they’re like   and like no one talks,  (It’s so intimidating.) but it’s actually like, just have a conversation with people. It’s not scary, it’s not inimidating . I mean, I think especially for you, you are so warm and welcoming and it’s honestly very refreshing.

Dan Distefano: [00:22:34] I appreciate that.

Meghan Houle: [00:22:35] Yeah. I personally think like when we talk about dropping the ego all the time and just going for it, it’s refreshing to see like you are certainly not ego-driven and definitely about the people , which is amazing. 

Like, how do you feel like these moments and pivots have really changed your life?

Dan Distefano: [00:22:49] These moments leading up have made me extremely empathetic. Going back to like your first Barry’s class, I kind of understood.

And it took me a while to like, there’s always like, if someone doesn’t enjoy your product and my product is specifically me, like there’s no one else to blame. So, it was kind of like very on me. Right? Like I realized from an early stage, if someone doesn’t like my class, it’s normally me. And so with that being said, right, like if they said, Oh, the instructor was too loud, or I didn’t like the music or he didn’t correct my form or this or that.

Like, you can always take a little bit of feedback from that. But I think the biggest thing is like being in the fitness industry, it made me understand how hard some things are for other people that I take for granted. And how challenging it is to start something new, be bad at something, and understanding that I’ve had a ton of help and handholding to get where I am.

And that’s how, that’s one of the ways I can pass down the ladder. Right? Like I had a client in Barry’s, she started online with her camera off and she sent me a DM. She’s like, Hey, first-class I had my camera off. I’ve never done fitness before. This makes me so nervous, xy and z. Then she turned her camera on.

Then she finally came to class and now she’s starting to become a little more confident in a group setting where she doesn’t know what she’s doing. But I think the biggest thing is that I try to tell people is that you need to get confident in not being good at something. And it’s extremely humbling.

And I did it a long time ago and it still happens all the time. But you realize as you appreciate that journey and do it over and over and over again, you understand, right? Getting started is very hard. The first five months suck. And your ego is like so low because you’re not confident. And then you start to find your sea legs.

Right? So, I think that’s the biggest thing at the end of the day is just being, one of the things I’ve learned is to be pretty empathetic and understand that if you’re coming into my class, If you’re doing business with my business, if you’re working with me, I need to show up and go above and beyond for my people, because you don’t know what everyone else is going through, right?

Meghan Houle: [00:25:06] Yeah, no, it’s true. I mean, in all of us behind the scenes, some get up and put on a brave face, but everyone’s dealing with something. And we’re all in this together and yes, I just love the community that, you build and seeing you around town and all the wonderful people, that gravitate towards you. It’s pretty special. And as we close up here, any words of advice for anyone looking to pivot? 

Dan Distefano: [00:25:28] I think the biggest thing is build your network. And I mean that in the nicest way possible just become a friendly face because as you expand your community and put yourself out there, more people will think of you and involve you in their community.

But I think the biggest thing is just do it. Like put yourself out there, like my motto is like I’m probably four months into real estate. I haven’t made a dollar yet. And my manager, my advisor, the guy I report directly to is like, why aren’t you doing this? Why aren’t you doing this? And I was like, Oh, like, I don’t know.

Like, I don’t have an answer. Like, I don’t know why I’m not doing it. I’m just hitting this roadblock and I’m hitting it and I’m hitting it. And then he’s like, well, how much money have you made? And I’m like $0. And he’s like, exactly. You literally can’t lose you at the bottom of the well and I don’t mean to put it in terms of like financials, but that’s the thing like you just got to get started.

You just got to get the engine going. You got to start pushing the car. You just got to do it. Life is on you to make what you want out of it and make the most of it. 

Meghan Houle: [00:26:30] Absolutely. No, I love it. Such great parting words and for all that you do, how can listeners find you? 

Dan Distefano: [00:26:38] The best way to reach me, no surprise here, is social media. It is @pickles.seven, no I’m not gonna tell the story of how I got that nickname.

Oh wait, 

Meghan Houle: [00:26:46] I didn’t call you pickles. Are you proud of me?

Dan Distefano: [00:26:52] So no, it’s so it’s so funny. Like some people call me pickles. Some people call me Dan and like some people don’t know what to call me. Some people don’t know my name. They only know my dog’s name. So, they say, Hey, Shay’s dad. 

Meghan Houle: [00:27:04] You’re just, you’re a brand entity next. I think we’re just going to go for a symbol. Dan, you’ll be like Prince, just make a symbol. 

Dan Distefano: [00:27:11] But no, the best way to get ahold of me is definitely social media @pickles.seven on Instagram, I also just got my commercial license plates. So, you can find my phone number on the side of my car, but I’m not giving that out on the podcast. 

Meghan Houle: [00:27:27] We’ll put it in the show notes.

Dan Distefano: [00:27:29] Exactly. Find me on LinkedIn. 

Meghan Houle: [00:27:31] Yes, find him on LinkedIn.  Well, that’s so amazing. And as you can all tell, I mean, Dan, I would say probably anyone reaching out certainly a wonderful guy to have a conversation with. And I thank you so much for coming on the podcast and for sharing your insight and wisdom and for any people in the fitness space enthusiasts like Dan, you can definitely check out Barry’s too online.

 Thanks so much, Dan. I really appreciate your time and keep rocking it. 

Dan Distefano: [00:27:57] Yeah Meg, I mean, obviously the feeling is mutual, so anytime, thank you for thinking of me. It was great catching up with you.

It’s good to hear another human voice and reconnect with people. So, I appreciate you, right back. 

FC Podcasts: [00:28:08] Pivot with Purpose with host Megan Houle is a Fashion Consort production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil AKA Corinne and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music.

Learn more @pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on Instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 2

When will you get a real career? When will you stop working nights and weekends? When do you plan to use your college degree?

If you work in retail, these are questions you often hear. Does this make you feel like the career you love was all just an accident? You’re not alone. The retail industry employs millions, yet most people don’t end up there by design.

Ron Thurston wrote Retail Pride as an indispensable guide for every retail employee, manager, and multi-store leader looking to accelerate their potential and grow their career. It’s filled with straightforward, practical tips for developing your talents, connecting with customers, and building your leadership skills.

Based on more than twenty-five years of Ron’s retail leadership experience, you’ll discover a sense of belonging in the words of someone who has been a champion for the industry and shares your journey.

Ron Thurston loves retail. And he’s proud of it. Ron has led the retail teams for some of America’s most prominent brands, inspired thousands of store employees, and traveled relentlessly across the country to sit and listen to what they have to say.  From a part-time sales associate to a vice president of stores, Ron has put in the hard work that a retail career requires and wrote this book to share what he learned along the way. 

Ron is a fourth-generation Californian, but he and his husband now live in Manhattan.

Ron Thurston’s LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rthurston/

Retail Pride Website: https://www.retailpride.com

Follow Ron on Instagram @retailpride

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose a podcast that highlights the unique stories of professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives, more purposefully, and with more joy.

Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Megan Houle,  a globally accredited career and business coach and creator of the Megan Houle method. 

Meghan Houle: [00:00:33] From a part-time sales associate to a vice president of stores, Ron has put in the hard work that retail career requires and wrote his bestselling book, Retail Pride: The Guide to Celebrating your Accidental Career, to share what he learned along the way.

Ron Thurston, I am so excited to have you on the podcast. You are a gift to the retail universe, and I cannot wait to share with our listeners the story about your pivot and all you have up your sleeve, which I know is a lot. 

FC Podcasts: [00:01:02] Thank you for listening to pivot with purpose with host Megan Houle, you can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts @pivotwithpurposepodcast.com.

And if you’d like to share your own pivot with purpose, click on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, your support amplifys our voice. And now this week’s episode.

Meghan Houle: [00:01:37] Thank you for being here with us today. And with that being said, I would love for you to tell us about your current job, what you’re up to, can you give us some career highlights? 

Ron Thurston: [00:01:46] I would love to thank you, Megan. And you and I have such a multi-year relationship that was part business, part friendship, part mentorship. And I’m just so proud of you for doing this podcast and for talking about pivoting. And I’m really honored to be one of your, I’ll just call it season one, guests. So, thank you. I’m excited about our friendship. 

 So, yes, I am currently the vice president of stores at Intermix which is the largest multi-brand specialty retailer in the US owned by Gap, Inc.

And we, really  for 27 years have celebrated the idea of being your personal style editor and about the mix and about bringing in well-known brands, unknown brands often first to the US. And mix it in the store experience and the fitting room in a way that really celebrates style, celebrates the mix of your wardrobe and really  teaching women every day about how to use what’s in your closet, add to it, what’s on trend for the season and just have so much fun doing it.   This year without as many people in our stores, the challenge is really how do you do some of that virtually through chat, FaceTime appointments, through consignment, through all the different versions of continuing to be your personal style editor but doing it in a new way.

I think this year has really taught us all that work in this business, that we have to learn to work in new ways and exciting new ways in some cases, and continue to make a big impact on the industry and the customers that we serve every day. 

Meghan Houle: [00:03:23] As a fan of Intermix, for sure, I appreciate the service level and I feel like you really have gone above and beyond to do amazing things and create wonderful experiences.

And, on top of what you’re doing at Intermix, talk to us about some other things that you’re really proud of career to date.

Ron Thurston: [00:03:39] So, when I really thought about this idea, you know, of being proud. And we’ll talk about my book in a minute, I think many of us that work in retail, we love it and we’re proud of it because it’s a career of service and it’s a career of serving our team, serving our customer, serving the brands that we work for and really giving generously of our time and our energy and our spirit. And so when I think about what am I most proud of, it’s really those moments where we’ve made positive impacts on first and foremost, our team and those around us because retail being, one of the largest employers in the world, if you look at it where it ranks by country, it’s always at least in the top five. And in the US, continues to be in the top three in private sector employers.

 And that kind of joy that comes with the number of people that we employ often, you know, one out of three people, it is their first job is in retail. And we make enormous impacts on career choices, on economic status, on career growth, on education, because retail is also an industry that is so self-taught, you have to do the work, you have to have great leaders around you, and my pride in what I’ve done and I know I share this with many other people, is that positive impact that we’ve had on  the people around us. And we have the ability to make decisions about careers and about, you know, it’s kind of an open forum for the brands you choose to work for. And that’s the beauty of it.  You’re not kind of stuck into one part of this industry, or one role. You can move around, you can pivot as we’ll talk about, and you can continue to engage as as much as you want to. And it can feel very kind of liberating that way. So certainly, that’s a big piece of it.

The other part that I’m proud of that is really serving me well is I have been a maniacal networker for a long time. And not because I expected anything back from meeting people or offering my own advice or time. But when it came time to really launch this book and to think about, you know, how  I wanted to be the voice for positive change in retail, that network has come into great benefit for this. And to my advice to many people and to, all the work that I’m doing is really use your network, build your network, whether you think it’s valuable to you today or not, or if you’re not looking for a job, you are looking for a job. Your network is the foundation of how you will grow your career. And I’m proud that I was kind of an early adopter in LinkedIn and built a big following. And it’s really wonderful to see how that has evolved. And I think supporting the message around retail pride. 

Meghan Houle: [00:06:37] Yeah, leveraging your network is like hot topic for me as well.

You know, in talking through,  and now having this wonderful podcast, have a platform. But you’re right, through LinkedIn and various channels and I know you and I have done some really fun things together that have connected new people. So, gosh, it’s been  a year of pivoting that’s for sure. And in the spirit of this podcast where we dive into pivots, can you tell me a story maybe about what led to the desire for you to write Retail Pride, you know, maybe taking that pivot, or if there’s any certain memorable points in that career journey that you’ve had that wonderful career journey that really led up to this pivot and what did you do specifically to get started?

Ron Thurston: [00:07:16] Sure. I think the moment I will describe, but the, journey to get here is really, three decades worth of work. And when we think about how often we are challenged as those of us that work in retail leadership roles, particularly in stores , is that it’s not a valid career. That it’s not actually something to celebrate. That you may or may not be using your education. That it is so self-taught and therefore not recognized as a great career. All of that messaging continued to kind of be really dominant in our industry.

And several  years ago, when we started to talk about the retail apocalypse and as more stores started to close and the headlines were really devastating to the industry, for those of us that work in it, because you can see this and you say, wow, certainly there are store closures, but I think what was missing out of all of that was this idea that, yes there are store closures, and yes brands are in the decline some are on the decline that were some legacy brands that didn’t really evolve with the world and how people shop.  What you don’t hear about as much is all the great brands that are actually growing and thriving and doing great work. And the millions of people that work in retail are so happy to do it. And I experienced it just firsthand over the last couple of decades. I’ve opened, I don’t even know how many stores, I lost count, hundreds. You know, and hired thousands of people. I’ve visited hundreds of stores in my career. And they’re so happy, they’re so proud, they’re so energetic, they’re so engaged with their clients. And it always felt like this is a lost art of how to communicate the magic of this industry. I wrote a blog for awhile, and then, you know, I said, this, actually needs to be a bigger message. This needs to be a book and I need to pivot into the idea of being a thought leader, a spokesperson, if you will, you know, self nominated spokesperson, and say we have to change the conversation from hiding in the shadows that we work in retail, to we’re really proud to do this, and we make an enormous impact on millions of people. And we impact careers and we change people’s lives and we celebrate the brands that we work for in ways that can’t be done through their website. I mean, the list goes on. 

Meghan Houle: [00:09:47] Yeah.

Ron Thurston: [00:09:47] And so my own kind of personal journey was I just made this decision summer of 2019 of I’m going to do this. I am going to do this, this year. I’m going to get this work started. Because there’s no better time than right now. And this was certainly pre COVID. But what I discovered, as I was just finishing the book in March of 2020 , that this now has been never more important than it is right now. And that’s kind of where it began. 

Meghan Houle: [00:10:13] Yeah. Gosh, I feel like I remember meeting you almost a year ago today. Remember? When you showed in New York and like have coffee. 

Ron Thurston: [00:10:22] I do remember. 

Meghan Houle: [00:10:23] We will get there again!

 But I don’t know. I feel like I kind of feel an answer to this, but maybe you can fill in the blanks. I mean, certainly also for myself as a retail leader sort of veteran, I guess you would say, I know you and I have talked a lot too in the past about having mentors or just really kind of growing up in a space where some of us had great mentors, some didn’t, and I really see Retail Pride as being such an amazing book for someone to purchase.

You know, if they want to have, I guess we’re calling it almost like the retail leadership Bible and talking about all of the wonderful points that you do and. And thinking about creating this book, you know, do you feel like it was a realization that maybe there was a white space in the market or was it maybe more of like a personal need for specific alignment related to something else, where did that fire burn inside of you to get this going? 

Ron Thurston: [00:11:12] So, when I did my homework, I think anyone that wants to write a book, you say, what is actually the space? Is there a need for this conversation? And I had questioned myself for a while and would say, well, nobody needs another leadership book.

Because there’s hundreds, if not thousands of them out there by very famous authors and I’ve read them all and I’ve used them as topics in conferences. But then the more I thought about it, there’s nothing that speaks about retail. There’s nothing from anyone that truly understands the hard work and passion and love that we have of retail. There’s literally not a single book on the market.

And to be one of the biggest employers in the world, yet no one says anything to us. So, that’s where it kind of changed my mind as I started to explore publishers. I did not want to self publish. I don’t know anything about the industry. I didn’t know the first thing about how to get a book on a shelf.

And so I did the work. I went to writing classes on Monday nights after work. I explored different publishing options. There’s what I ended up using is a company called Scribe and they have a guided author program. And so they actually kind of, you do all the work, but they kind of handhold you along the way you know, help you with editing, do all the work on the backend to help you get live on Amazon and sell it to bookstores. And help you with interior layout and cover design. They do a lot of that work. Now you’re paying for this. Um, but for me that was less important than putting out a great product that was going to be easily accessible. And that I thoroughly enjoyed, but this idea of this is now a conversation we can have about our industry in a way that’s very personal and very real to the people that work in it. And it’s been so rewarding to see all the comments, the reviews, all the messages that I receive of, thank you for recognizing my 20, 30, 40 year career in retail. Thank you for doing this. And that just gives me so much joy every day. 

Yeah,  I remember in our fabulous book club that we had, you know, I think almost everyone said, I feel like Ron was talking to me when reading this book. Which is so special, you know, it captures you. I think you can learn something from every chapter and just really walk away feeling like, gosh, wow. That is me feeling even more empowered. I mean, I’ve certainly heard people say I’m falling back in love with my job, which is so special. So we’re so excited about this book and know that it will just live on out there and again, in the spirit our conversation about pivot, thinking about a yes or no answer, do you remember the exact moment you decided to go for it, in terms of writing your book? 

I do. I do.

Meghan Houle: [00:14:03] With that, we’re going to take a quick break, leave a little mystery and we will certainly pick this back up.

Okay, Ron, let’s take the mystery out of this. So, tell us, tell us that moment that you decided to go for it. 

Ron Thurston: [00:14:28] So, this is completely off topic, but I’ll tell you why. And when I think about my own life and, you know, I am married and that’s, you know, the number one relationship in my life, but what’s,  important for me that keeps me motivated is that I really try to surround myself with people who are also doing important work on themselves and growing. And so I got also involved , summer of 2019, with men’s group work and very much by accident.  But what I discovered is you put people together in a room who want to do great work and have an honest place to have conversations, you can learn how to set goals for yourself that become not just dreams, but reality. And I kind of discovered this idea of having this close network of men specifically, because this is work that is unique to this particular ideal of having a safe space for men to talk about what’s going on in their life. How are they feeling about things? How can we support each other? How can we create trust and loyalty to this conversation? And what came out of some of that early work for me was a commitment to get this done in a very like emotional way, when you talk about legacy. And as someone that doesn’t have children, I, and I’m in my fifties, you say, well, what, what actually is my legacy? What do I want to kind of leave here that’s not just work. But like, yeah, I did a great job at work and I was successful. I’m a good husband. But what else, what else? What’s the bigger impact I can have. And that’s when the book started, to talk about like what actually is my legacy that’s where it began.

And I, think they were actually pretty shocked. I’m like, I’m going to write a book. They’re like, “Oh, that sounds great.” And  then you know…

Meghan Houle: [00:16:24] Good for you!

Ron Thurston: [00:16:25] Less than, in a year I had a book on the shelf. But that’s just, you know, that’s the retailer in me, we set a goal for ourself and we make it happen.

Meghan Houle: [00:16:32] just make it happen. And also too, I mean, I’d love talking about this, but what you did was you just started, right? You surrounded yourself with really some high vibe people that bring out the best and are like-minded and you get energized.  And that’s so amazing. And  with all that you are doing, talk a little bit about your balance because I’m sure like all of us we’re juggling a million things, but in writing this book, with your work commitments, probably take some serious habits, right? Of like structuring your days to make sure you can commit to everything that you need to do.  

Ron Thurston: [00:17:03] It did. And part of working with the guided author program says, in order for you to write 35,000 words in an average book, you need to write X number of words a day, and you need to actually create that structure and we’re going to hold you accountable.

And what I really enjoyed about meeting. So, I went to a weekend workshop in Austin and met 12 other very interesting professionals who all want to write books, who are not writers, who just said, I have a great story to tell. I have something I want to say. I want to write a book. So, you put 12 people together in a room who are all highly successful and highly motivated, you immediately create a friendship bond with these people that none of them work in retail. And so when I would describe like what I do, why I think this is an important book, they were actually surprised that there’s nothing out there. So, these are like a gold medal Olympic athlete. There is business owners, coaches. There were a couple of women writing very intense memoirs about experiences. There’s a book that I’m reading right now called Generation Zero about  she’s the first generation born in the US and what that experience has been for her. And so four of us, of the 12, have published. And the rest are chugging right along to come out this year.

But that creates accountability. So, you surround yourself with people who also want to do great work, who don’t want to do the same work, but they create a level of an accountability around you. So, we have a very active group chat.  How’d you write today? Did you get your words out? What are you accountable for? And for me that was necessary with a very busy job and life and board work that I do that I had accountability for what I wanted to accomplish. And that I think is definitely a best practice. 

Meghan Houle: [00:18:57] Yeah,  how important do you feel like it is to have that group of support when you are looking for a pivot in general?

Ron Thurston: [00:19:04] I think it’s critical and  I don’t know that you need to find exactly the same people who want to do the exact same thing. I think you surround yourself with people who  also need balance, can give you best practices, can say, how are you doing on this? How can I help you? How can I learn from you? Just all of that. I think you, you can’t rely just on your family. You can’t rely just on your own knowledge. I think it’s important. I would go back to networking, you know, networking helped me build the infrastructure to get the work done. And I have my full-time role and the book is kind of the second one. And the third one is board work that I do. And I am still every week in a men’s group. I actually need all of that around me to keep it going. But it’s just, it’s balance and time and making sure that you’re prioritizing what’s important.

But it doesn’t mean it can’t get done. It’s just for me, it’s about prioritizing. 

Meghan Houle: [00:20:01] Yeah. No, absolutely. And how do you feel like if at all, has bringing this Retail Pride book to life, change your actual life? 

Ron Thurston: [00:20:10] It’s helped me become more thoughtful about my own legacy. Exactly that. It’s helped me really think about the space that’s available to speak to an enormous audience that isn’t being spoken to today. And that just gets me so excited. And I’ve had incredible response from media and speaking opportunities and podcasts like yours to talk about it.  But it also takes an incredible amount of to do. And so that’s what I would say is dream as big as you can, but don’t be afraid of what might happen. Because I was also a little anxious of like, what if I get bad reviews on Amazon? What if no one buys this book. What if nobody likes it? What if nobody cares? And so you have all that self doubt in your head, and I just had to let that go.

And said, you know what, I’m going to put out a book. If I sell five copies, you know, when most books actually sell about 200 copies in their lifetime, which is a statistic that I didn’t even know, you know, unless you’re a best selling author, most books don’t sell that many copies. So, you have low expectations.

And I’m happy to say it’s significantly higher than that, but it was never about selling books. It was about the conversation that needs to happen in our industry. 

Meghan Houle: [00:21:29] Yeah, I love it. And that, what if, that fear, I think sometimes that holds us back. The imposter syndrome that comes in that’s no one’s going want to read my book and it’s like, but what if you don’t do this for you?

Ron Thurston: [00:21:40] Right.

Meghan Houle: [00:21:40] Like you said, and just get it out there and see what happens and let the universe take control. So, I just think it’s been fabulous and I know you’re leading and inspiring so many more people beyond the reach of all the wonderful people that get to work with you directly every day at Intermix.

And, you know, is there anything you wish that maybe you did differently? 

Ron Thurston: [00:22:00] I wish I had done this a long time ago. But I’ve also learned to, when I say that, then my men’s group work kicks in and the answer is you did it exactly when you were supposed to.

Meghan Houle: [00:22:11] Right. 

Ron Thurston: [00:22:12] And that you actually, you needed the right space and time and people and network in order for it to happen.

And 10 years ago, I may not have had it. And I would have been more afraid of not being able to do it, or not having the finances to do it.  So, while I would, in my head, I’d like to think I did it a long time ago. I’m actually really glad that it’s right now, because there’s also a lot of pain in our industry right now. And job loss and people looking. And it doesn’t mean that they don’t love, or proud of working in retail, but they might need a little more help than they used to. 

Meghan Houle: [00:22:47] Right. 

Ron Thurston: [00:22:47] And I’m trying to provide forums for conversation and networking to help people actually get back to work and find that next great job, because that is, it’s so self motivated to make that happen. 

Meghan Houle: [00:23:01] Yeah. Well, and I know you have something coming up with your Saturdays with Ron, which is so amazing and you’re right. I mean, I think in this moment where there are a lot of people still looking to pivot what you know, what I love to call your Ron’s wisdom um, you know, any kind of lasting words of advice for anyone else out there looking to pivot right now?

Ron Thurston: [00:23:23] Don’t be afraid of what can happen. And don’t think that you can’t actually do your own work and pivot at the same time. I don’t think it’s one or all. 

Meghan Houle: [00:23:35] Right. 

Ron Thurston: [00:23:35] I’d love to say, yeah I would love to devote a hundred percent of my time to Goodwill, but I’m a board member that adds value when I can. I would love to say, could do and speak about Retail Pride full-time; that’s not an option. And so I think you can actually do and have multiple conversations at the same time and multiple streams and pivot. And just like you’re doing. You can do multiple things at the same time. We all have the ability to do it. It’s just kind of structuring your life around it to make it happen. But it’s very possible, I did it.

Meghan Houle: [00:24:10] Yeah, absolutely.  So, it’s about just starting, finding that network surrounding yourself with all kinds of different people that can lift you up in various ways and just get out there. And I know that there’s a lot of different ways our listeners can find you. But talk about some ways that people can reach out connect with you. 

Ron Thurston: [00:24:31] Yeah. So, the best way is retailpride.com. Which is where you’ll find links to my new weekly webinar Saturday Mornings with Ron, which is live; it’s entirely for networking purposes. Links to the book, links to my blog, which are excerpts from the book, some of it . There’s a lot of content on there. So, definitely retailpride.com or LinkedIn. 

And what I would say is, you know, don’t be afraid to reach out, but also don’t be afraid to reach out to other people in the industry that you admire what they’re doing.  And it was something I did early on. If I heard someone on a podcast or watched them on a webinar and I stopped being afraid of reaching out and just saying, “I like what you said, thank you. I’m writing a book and I’d love to ask for your opinion about things.” Or “this is what I’m thinking about. What do you think?” And people are generally very kind and gracious and generous of their time.

And so don’t be afraid of that. We’re all here to help and support. 

Meghan Houle: [00:25:32] Yeah, well, coming from you, I think for any listeners, it’s going to be such a powerful message that I know it’s sometimes a little nerve wracking to reach out and ask someone for a conversation. But I will tell you, like Ron and so many other senior level executives, there are some really, really nice people out there.

Ron Thurston: [00:25:48] There are!

Meghan Houle: [00:25:49] So, go for it. Ask for a conversation fearlessly network. And Ron, I am so tremendously grateful for you in my life. Meeting you so many years ago, I remember sitting down across from a table  and just seeing you and being like, he just gets it, like he is the sunshine that we all need in this light. And I know you’ve done so many tremendous things in 2020 to really help people.

And here we are in 2021 and we’re hitting the ground running. So, thank you for you. Thank you for all that you do. It’s such a pleasure to have you. I’m so grateful to call you a friend and a mentor and cheers to being on the Pivot with Purpose podcast season one. 

Thank you. 

Ron Thurston: [00:26:25] What a wonderful surprise today. Thank you for this. 

FC Podcasts: [00:26:30] Pivot with Purpose  with host Mmegan Houle is a Fashion Consort production, and part of the FC podcast network. It is produced and directed by Phil aka Corinne, and a special thank you to Spencer Powell for our theme music. Learn more at pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and be sure to follow us on instagram @pivotwithpurpose_podcast.

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Pivot With Purpose

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Ep 1

At the heart of Pivot with Purpose is the moment a person decides to make a change in their life or their career, despite the odds, despite the challenges. Professionals from all backgrounds share their personal stories, how they overcame obstacles and fear in order to experience more purpose and joy by pivoting. Their stories motivate, inspire, and encourage listeners to take control of their lives and forge their own destinies.

Host, Meghan Houle, is an ACC accredited Professional Career & Business coach. She is the creator of the Meghan Houle-METHOD, which compliments her role as a Sr. Executive Recruiter engaged in hiring expert talent for top global brands in the specialty and luxury space across North America. Meghan prides herself on building relationships. She is a seasoned luxury retailer who turned her passion for people into executive recruiting and career coaching. Her authentic nature and spirit are what she brings to the process every step of the way, helping her clients through every step in the delicate process of a career transition. She is the master of the pivot!

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