Careers Out There Host Marc Luber: Hey everyone – on today’s episode of Careers Out There we’re gonna hear from a really inspirational person. Our guest is Jenny Blake – she runs a popular personal development blog called Life After College – and she recently came out with a popular book of the same name. You can find the book on Amazon.com where I posted a very positive video review and you could find her site at LifeAfterCollege.org. Jenny just took a great leap of her own to follow the same kind of advice she gives to her audience: she left her career at Google to pursue her passions of public speaking, life coaching and yoga. I love her perspective on careers, so I’m really psyched to have her here today to share it with you guys. It’s gonna be a great show – so stick around! [theme music] OK we’re back! Jenny, welcome to Careers Out There.
Jenny Blake: Thank you!
Host Marc Luber: Thanks for being here. I was saying in the intro that I’m really excited to have you here so you could share your perspective with everybody. I love your perspective, so…
Jenny Blake: Well thank you.
Luber: I’m happy to have you here. You just completed a nationwide book tour in support of Life After College so tell us how that went! What was it like and was it fun to go out and see all the people in real life?
Jenny: It was so much fun! I had an absolute blast. A lot of people ask me, “Oh – is your publisher sending you on a book tour?” No, quite the contrary! They told me “it’s not really worth it, no one’s really doing book tours these days,” but to me it felt like why you have a wedding for a marriage. It was like the ceremony of it and getting up and traveling. Speaking of career – I had been at Google for 5 ½ years working really intensely. For the last 3 years I was doing Google, the blog AND my book. And I thought like OK, I’ve got – I knew I wanted to take a sabbatical when the book came out – that it wouldn’t be fair to Google or my book to try to do both at the same time – so I decided to organize a – it started out 14 cities, ended up about 10 cities, self-funded book tour, where people asked how did I decide where to go – I just picked wherever I had pockets of friends, readers and it was a city I wanted to visit or I had an existing conference – that’s where I went. So…it was tons of fun – I went to Austin, Texas, San Diego, Bay Area, New York a few times, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Vegas twice! LA, where I met you for the first time in person, and just had a blast.
Luber: That’s great. Well your presentation was excellent. So if anyone out there ever gets a chance to see you, they should definitely run to do it because it’s very, very good – very inspirational. So, you did a great job – seriously.
Jenny: Thank you!
Luber: And I want to get to what you’re gonna be doing next – but we’ll get to that at the end –so I want everyone to know what’s going on with Jenny Blake next – but there’s SO much in your book and on your site that I think is really useful for people of all ages who are trying to find their way – and especially people who are in college and in their 20s. And what I want to do today – I want to focus on the career piece of what you talk about and what you coach about. One of the first brilliant things I think you do in the book is that you say people should spend some time reflecting on life’s big questions – you know, really just reflecting so that they could get to the heart of what they’re all about and be more likely to find a career that fits them – and manage their careers through that. So, let’s use that as a launching pad for our discussion. I’d love to hear – what do you say to people about this topic?
Jenny: Sure. One of the biggest questions you can ask – and this is where I got the subtitle for the book – “what do I really want”? I’ve had coaches where it stopped me in my tracks. I would be blabbering about a decision and all of a sudden they would stop and say, “what do you REALLY want”? And the minute that they would get really serious and ask me that, I thought, “Oh – well, what I REALLY want is X” and I would say it. So I find that deep down in our gut we often know what we want and what’s important to us but for a lot of people, they haven’t taken the time to unpack it and articulate it. So one of the first big questions: First, one easy way to start is to do a coaching exercise called The Wheel of Life. And you rate every area of your life on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being totally dissatisfied and 10 being “I’m thrilled with this area”. So when it comes to career, if someone’s in a job and they don’t really love it and you ask them, “what’s on a scale of 1 to 10” and they say “it’s currently a 5”, one of the most effective questions then is, “what does a 10 look like”? So an individual can go through and for every area of their life say what a 10 looks like. And you can vision – one of my favorite books, that I read in high school and arguably got me started on this whole personal development kick – is How To Be Do Or Have Anything by Laurence Boldt – that book was ALL about visioning – writing in the present tense as if you’ve already achieved what you want in every area – and I just found it so incredibly helpful.
Luber: Wow! I’ll have to post a link to that book.
Jenny: Yeah! Oh, it’s one of my favorites. And I think because it’s older it’s not that well known but I – it is probably hands down my favorite book. And it inspired my own.
Luber: OK, very good!
Jenny: Another big question that a lot of people have a time answering is “what is my life’s purpose, what’s my mission”? That’s a tough one – I mean it is really hard to just say to someone “what’s your life’s purpose” and then they’re like stuttering, “I don’t know”. A coach asked me that once and I had no clue. And if you think of it like if you’re feeling your way through the dark, start somewhere – go for the big shapes. “I know I want to help people” – OK, great, what kind of people – “young professionals” – OK, from there, how do you want to help them – what do you feel like you can really bring to the world or that you want to share with the world? The last big questions that I like to ask people are about core values. For me the easiest way to do this is – you can either buy my book or go on line and get a list of values – and narrow it down to 20 values that are important to you, and then from there pick 10 and from there pick 5. The goal being what is your framework? If you have to make a decision, what are your main considerations? For some person it might be stability, security, and routine. Another person’s values might be spontaneity, adventure and travel. Those 2 people are gonna have really different careers. So once you understand your values you can kind of use them as a compass – and I just did this with a coaching client today. She had some fork in the road with her career, and she could either move to a new city and get a job there or go travel and live in a country where she’s gonna learn a foreign language. So we went through those decisions according to her values and it became clear to her what to do. So it could be a really helpful framework for moving forward, making plans and making decisions.
Luber: I think that sounds great. Now do you think – is there a big difference between someone who’s, let’s say in college, and they’re thinking, “well I haven’t been out in that real world thing out there seems so big and scary – I haven’t been out there yet” – is there a big difference for someone in those shoes versus the person who’s out there, been working 3 years and thinking “ah this kinda sucks, something’s not right, I’ve gotta shake it up”. How would you speak differently to those people?
Jenny: It really depends on everyone’s situation. So different people have different thresholds. One of my friends, she graduated college, she worked for 2 weeks and she quit her job. She couldn’t stand it. And she wrote this guest post on Penelope Trunk’s blog, which as you might know gets a lot of traffic. And people ripped her to shreds – they were just like, “you are an entitled Gen Y brat, how can you quit after 2 weeks, you’ve gotta pay your dues and put in 6 months, put in a year before you quit.” She ended up starting her own web design business, moving to Italy, moving to Paris, it’s now thriving, she’s met a great guy that she’s fallen in love with and that all came because she had the guts to say “this isn’t working for me”. Even though she was only 2 weeks in to her first job after college. And then there are other people who want the stability – they want to get a job – they might think – maybe they know they’re not gonna love it but there’s a certain set of skills that they’re learning like sales skills or customer service or just how to exist in the corporate world. And for those people, it might not be right to just do something kind of crazy and off the wall. So that’s again where values come into play. I think it’s for each individual to look at their circumstances as well. “Can I move back in with my parents while I figure this out or do I need to be paying the bills from the get-go?”
Luber: Exactly. So everyone needs to look in the mirror, assess themselves and do these exercises that you’re talking about. And many of them are included in the book – I’ll hold it up again – there are so many exercises in this book that are really, really helpful. If people actually do them rather than just look at them and say “oh, there’s exercises” it will really help them to think through these issues, right?
Jenny: Yes – absolutely!
Luber: It’s really important. I just met with someone the other day who was not happy with his job and he was telling me how he’s gonna go interview for pretty much the same job somewhere else. And I said, “but what’s the number 1 thing that’s dragging you down where you are now – and is that gonna be any different when you go over there?” It was the exact same job – it was gonna be the exact same thing! So I said, “why are you doing that – why don’t’ you figur4e out what DOESN’T have that” – just like you said – “what has the things that you actually want so you’re not jumping in to another situation where you’re gonna say GET ME OUTTA HERE!”
Luber: People have to think through this stuff!
Jenny: Yeah, we’re creatures of habit. It could be scary to make a big shift. I’m writing a newsletter today to one of my lists and the message is “sometimes you have to let yourself suck”. So for that person who is entertaining the thought of switching jobs or switching a career, going to the same old thing is comfortable. She or he knows she can do it and will be good at it but switching directions means you have to let yourself suck a little bit. You’re gonna be a beginner and that comes with the territory, but ultimately will be worth it.
Luber: Yup. It’s all about finding a way to enjoy that learning process when you ARE a beginner.
Luber: So did YOU know when YOU were coming right out of school? Did YOU know what you wanted your life to be?
Jenny: I thought originally that I wanted to work on a presidential campaign. I was still in school so I have kind of a unique story. I was doing research for a college professor and she was gonna be starting a company back in my hometown in Palo Alto. So I left school – I took a leave of absence at the start of my junior year to work with her and be the first employee with her and this other college professor. So my career – it kind of fell into my lap – and someone asked me – they’re like, “do you feel lucky – was it luck that you got that job at the start-up?” And I said “yes and no”. Yes it was luck – AND – I had asked that professor to be her research assistant – and I was her research assistant for a year and a half. So when that opportunity came up, there I was. So in that sense, that’s when I really started shifting away from politics. I was doing marketing, websites, and office management. I enjoyed it a lot! And then when I shifted to Google, it really became clear that I loved training and teaching and working with people land that’s when I did coach training. So it really has unfolded naturally. I don’t think I could have ever planned the specifics. But I will say that I always – my whole life – I’ve had this secret ambition of being an author-speaker-coach. I don’t think I knew what coaching was at the time but that was always present! And so even when I moved to Google, when I took the job on the Training Team, it was because I knew that I would get practice being in front of a room every day.
Luber: That’s great! So one thing just kind of led to the other – it’s not like you mapped it out and said “this has to happen this way” but you just kind of followed your instincts and what you knew about yourself?
Jenny: Right. Yeah.
Luber: I like it!
Jenny: Yeah, absolutely. And I liken this to cleaning out your closet – at any given time – or revamping your wardrobe. You want to look at what you have or what you’re doing at your job – what skills you’re using – and say “what do I want to get rid of”. You might not be able to get rid of it right away but know what you dislike and you’ve gotta clear some of that old stuff out so you can make room for the skills doing more of what you DO enjoy. So even when I came to Google, I was training, but I was doing Ad Words. I was teaching people about the Ad Words product. I loved being in front of the room but I was NOT passionate about Ad Words! Ha! Like how to set a daily budget. Ha! It had no meaning for me!
Jenny: So that’s when I started – I said “OK, I’m gonna keep the training and I’m gonna try and get rid of the Ad Words” and that’s when I joined the Career Development team.
Luber: And it all just came together and you felt like THIS FITS – THIS MAKES SENSE.
Jenny: Yeah! Kind of one piece at a time. I did coach training on my own time, nights and weekends. So I think part of the message too is not waiting for those opportunities to be handed to you or for all the conditions to be right. Sometimes you do have to go after it simultaneously to doing something else.
Luber: Right! Now what about this? You’ve put out the book, you’ve done the book tour, everything’s gone great, you’ve left Google. What’s next for Jenny Blake? Tell us what’s gonna happen next!
Jenny: Well, I refer to my company as Jenny Blake Enterprises. Ha! And next for me is moving to New York from the Bay Area. That’ll be really exciting. And then my biggest project that I’m most excited about is my 8-week course called Make Sh*t Happen. And the goal there is to help people take an improbable idea – something they’re toying around – a big giant goal – and take it from that to inevitable success. Doing a lot of the things that we’re talking about: learning how to figure out what they’re passionate about, come up with a life purpose statement, vision and values. So the course I’m excited – I love coaching and speaking, but the opportunity to be able to help people with THEIR biggest serious goals is just really fun for me. So I hope – fingers crossed – that that goes well and it helps people and that they enjoy it.
Luber: Yeah! That’s great. And is Make Sh*t Happen a video series? Is it a post that you’re writing? How is that gonna play out for people?
Jenny: It’s gonna be 8 weeks of material. It’ll be video, audio, there’s a 100 page book that I’ve written that goes with it…..coaching exercises, a community forum, Q&A calls, weekly accountability emails and interviews with experts.
Luber: That’s really great.
Jenny: Yeah! So we’ll help people take a big goal from improbable to inevitable.
Luber: And hold them accountable!
Jenny: Yes! Definitely!
Luber: That’s key! That’s excellent. Very exciting. I wish you the BEST with this and in New York – you guys who are watching in New York – be good to her when you find her out there in New York City! Ha! This is great, Jenny. Thank you so much for joining us – I really appreciate it.
Jenny: Sure, thank you for having me!
Luber: Yeah, definitely. You guys can connect with Jenny at Life After College dot org and also on Twitter at Jenny underscore Blake. Right?
Jenny: You got it! And there’s a ton of free templates on my website too for anyone who wants help with budgeting or job interviewing. There’s a ton of stuff. Just look for templates.
Luber: Excellent! You guys, check that out – and make sure, if you haven’t already done so, to buy Life After College. This is an excellent book. It’s seriously helpful and the kind of exercises that you can do in here are gonna really move you forward, without a doubt. They will definitely, definitely help you guys. So definitely check that out! You guys, thanks again for watching. You can find episodes of Careers Out There on YouTube, iTunes, BlipTV and of course at Careers Out There dot com. Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and look forward to seeing you again soon. Take care.
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