Ten episodes ago, we started a series of conversations around new careers. We explored new roles made possible by advanced technologies, have recently gained popularity, or are now needed because of the changing marketplace.
As the series comes to an end, I want to take a moment to reflect on key takeaways from these conversations. What surprised me and what struck a chord. Which of my assumptions have been confirmed or changed. And what I’m taking away from these conversations?
Newly created roles often mean there’s no blueprint to follow and you have to be willing to take a chance.
I was really taken by Marie Poulin’s attitude as she pursued a new role. That’s why I started Season 4 with her story. Marie did not intentionally seek out the role of a Notion expert. But she was quick to see the emerging possibilities, carving a path for herself by taking a chance and not waiting for permission.
Marie’s story is one that really demonstrates for me how it is to take a chance, even when there’s no clear path or no blueprint to follow.
Marie Poulin: A few people said, “You really got to double down on this. You are the first to market right and people seem really excited.” [Notion] has a huge user basis and it could open up so many opportunities. I thought, what would be the harm in trying it for a chapter? Let’s see what the next six months year. What would happen if I went all-in on it? And I just thought it’s an experiment. Let’s try it. Could I teach this? Could I make a course around it? What would be possible? I mean, I don’t think I could have predicted what it was going to look like initially. I just thought, okay, I’ll make a course. I’ll make a product. I didn’t expect it to take over in terms of like becoming the majority of where my revenue comes in from.
Going back to school isn’t the only way to acquire new skills.
None of the guests said they had to first go back to school as a pre-requisite before they got started. It wasn’t about not needing to acquire new skills. Rather, they didn’t have to enroll in a traditional program in school to get a degree or finish a certification program (which is how we would have normally gone about things, years ago). Instead, what I heard over and over was that they learned experientially, in the process of doing the thing, in smaller increments and just in time.
Susanna Perkins: Initially, it was just something I was doing for my own entertainment. The first WordPress site that I built came out of an interest that my husband I had in possibly retiring overseas. And being a writer, when I’m exploring ideas for myself, I write about them and I thought, well, I could put together a WordPress site and I can write about what I’m thinking about. And maybe somebody who would be interested. If nobody is, that’s okay too. And I worked at my ideas this way and also learned WordPress this way.
Jerod Morris: When I was growing up, my friends and I would play computer football games and we’d sit there and like announce the games. I’ve always liked that kind of thing but I didn’t have any experience with it. But I had kind of heard about podcasts. I was like, well, we’ve got this sport’s site. Let me just try some different stuff. But it wasn’t really anything besides kind of an experiment. Those early ones were really just kind of about trying something new in this kind of new medium that was out there. Just trying to see what it was about really and learning on the fly by doing it.
Andréa Jones: Earlier in my career, I worked in Hospitality. I worked at the Marriott as a manager of a spa, and they needed someone to manage the hotel’s social media accounts. They were thinking about bringing in this agency and they were like, why don’t we keep it in-house? And so it kind of naturally evolved at that time. We just started a Facebook page and we needed someone to post pictures of like the spa and the restaurant and our sales and the things that are happening here at the hotel.
Remember your main motivations as you grow in the role.
Janice Dalager reminded me of the importance of remembering why we started to begin with. Sometimes, in the pursuit of growth or “what’s next”, it’s easy to forget our initial motivations and goals. Before we knew it, we’d have created something we no longer enjoyed. Janice was clear on why she chose to do the work of a virtual assistant. She wanted the kind of work that gave her the flexibility to be the kind of mother she wanted to be. She kept that vision front and center as she made decisions about her career.
Janice Dalager: Being a VA, especially because it’s work-from-home, has been the greatest teacher for me of healthy boundaries. There are space boundaries and work boundaries. Boundaries with the family, as well as boundaries with your clients. That’s one of the things you want to be aware of, especially if that’s important to you. Like we don’t take on-call work because it doesn’t work for my lifestyle. It doesn’t work for my team’s lifestyle either. So, choose gigs that suit your lifestyle. The one thing I can say about VAs — because there’s such a range of expectations around VA work — I if you want to be on call, you can be on call. If you don’t want to be on call, then don’t answer those gigs.
Create something bigger than yourself.
On the question of growth and moving forward, I didn’t hear one consistent theme. Each guest looked at their growth aspirations differently, focusing on what’s most important to them. But Jerod Morris’ perspective on this struck a chord for me personally. He’s talking specifically about growing as a podcaster. But this idea of making something bigger than ourselves — creating a body of work that can leave an imprint long after we’re done doing the work itself — is definitely something to strive for.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, I want to keep hosting shows because I love it. Like getting behind the microphone, it’s fun. When that green light goes on on the computer, whether you’re broadcasting it live or recording and then broadcasting later. There’s something so fun about that, it’s a really energizing feeling. But I like going beyond that. Talking about a subject that’s important is great. But what’s even more important is what do people do with it and how do people connect afterward? Are we building something that’s bigger than ourselves? I want to see myself as leading a conversation, but not dominating it and not being the only voice that’s important.
No matter what you pursue, bring, and show your excitement.
Wrapping up this wrap-up is a bit of a challenge, TBH. There were so many juicy insights from the guests to choose from. I’ll share this one from Andréa Jones. Although she was referring to social media work, her words apply no matter what it is we’re looking to pursue.
Andréa Jones: One of the things that I teach my mentees is to just be excited and interested in what you’re doing. I think that that is a necessary way to get business or to join a team. Because even if you’re inexperienced, that sort of passion is actually hard to find. And a lot of people will want to work with you if you can show them that you’re interested in what they have to offer
The Full List
Ep 135: The Digital Workflow Strategist, Marie Poulin
Ep 136: The Social Media Manager, Andréa Jones
Ep 137: The Facebook Ad Specialist
Ep 138: The WordPress Designer, Susanna Perkins
Ep 139: The Online Community Manager, Shannon Paris
Ep 140: The Virtual Assistant, Janice Dalager
Ep 141: The Virtual Expert, Kathy Goughenour
Ep 142: The Podcast Producer, Sean McMullin
Ep 143: The Podcast Host, Jerod Morris