Find Your Life Theme

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

When you look at your career, can you see a central theme that has transcended your individual jobs? In the previous blog post, Lauren was a teacher, and then a gymnastics coach, and then part of the management team at a performing arts school, and finally a life coach—roles that all centered around educating and mentoring. As different periods in her life unfolded, her central theme was reimagined, but it always remained a part of what gave her purpose and satisfaction.

As you’re planning your own Fresh Start Success, realize that the answer to the question of what to do next might be closer than you think. Look for the central themes in your work history, and then look for other jobs that emphasize those same aspects. Don’t get hung up on titles—pay attention to what the meat of the actual job entails. You might find that a new career that seems radically different from your past on the surface shares essential common threads at its heart.

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Coaching for Results

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Lauren Brett Randolph wanted to be a teacher. She went to university to study teaching and discovered that she hated being in the classroom. “That was a huge eye-opener,” Lauren says. “I really gained respect for the teachers in university.” From the time she was seven years old until she was nineteen, Lauren was a competitive rhythmic gymnast, competing for Canada internationally in events that included World Championships. She was a member of the Canadian National Team for rhythmic gymnastics and eventually became National Team Coach.

Falling back on her experience as an athlete, Lauren refocused her teaching background and trained to be a coach. After university, she joined a dance company, but it didn’t satisfy her love of gymnastics, so at age twenty-three, she began coaching full-time, then became one of Canada’s national coaches. “It hasn’t been about the job; it’s been about the higher purpose,” Lauren says.

As much as Lauren loved coaching and rhythmic gymnastics, she became disillusioned with the sport in 1991. Behind-the-scenes changes she saw at the World Championships were not aligned with her core values, and Lauren quit the sport again in 1997. Her first Fresh Start Success began when she went to work for her husband, a former New York City professional dancer, who ran a post-secondary college for musical theater students. For sixteen years, Lauren was the managing director of Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. She taught herself how to use a computer and poured her passion into the business, which grew from $300,000 in revenue to $1.5 million in ten years with new programs that she created. She was a catalyst for infrastructure changes that supported such rapid growth and honed her skills on the job even without a formal degree in business.

Lauren realized she needed to reinvent herself again because it became clear that although she was doing amazing work and putting in a lot of hours, she was supporting her husband’s dream, not her own dream. She had tried to make the school her dream, but it wasn’t where her true passion lay. Lauren realized that she needed to make a change for herself.

“I was caught up in the cult of being the ‘ideal worker,’ working insanely hard to prove that I was smart and accomplished, and the ‘ideal mother’—trying to prove that I was a supermom,” Lauren recalls. “So I ‘demoted’ myself to a smaller role. But I was still super goal-oriented and a perfectionist, and pretty soon, I realized I was building myself another new, huge role with the school even though it wasn’t my passion.” Lauren did some soul searching and looked inward to listen to herself. She paid attention to her conversations with people, looking for direction.

As Lauren listened to what themes kept coming up in conversation, she heard people asking for a life coach. Coaching was in Lauren’s blood, and she had a track record working with gymnasts, students, and the faculty at the school. Still, it took her four years to decide to go back into coaching—this time, as a life and leadership coach. Lauren did her research, hired a coach for herself, and went back to school. As an athlete and now as an adult, Lauren recognized that her inner dialogue was holding her back. “I had to silence the negative mind chatter and my doubts about being too old to start over, since I was already forty-nine,” she says.

“I realized that the gremlins in my head are full of shit,” Lauren adds. “Getting to the point where I could acknowledge that was a profound way to step into awareness. I was in my own way with disempowering thoughts, doubts about my ability, and crippling perfectionism. It was holding me back.” She also learned to give herself permission to reinvent her career. “It was my turn,” Lauren recalls. “For sixteen years, I had supported my husband’s dream, and now he was supportive of me.” Her family was very supportive of Lauren’s reinvention, even though it meant a shift away from the family business. Some people were judgmental and made her second guess herself. Prevailing against the naysayers helped Lauren become more determined and grounded.

Immersing herself in learning went well. Lauren felt like she was starting late, and that sense of catching up from behind was a motivator to keep her focused and driven. She was still working full-time while she trained to be a coach but quit her job at the school when her coaching client roster grew to where it was too much to handle both.

Lauren attended The Coaches Training Institute and found their programs to have great synergy with her vision for the future. Then she dreamed up a new life that could provide her with autonomy, allow her to set her own hours, and work at a less compulsive pace. She started providing life and leadership coaching programs of her own in 2013 as The Cartwheel Coach. “Sometimes, I regret that it took me four years to decide what to do,” Lauren says. “But then I realized I needed that time to gain the wisdom to make the shift successfully.”

Championship-level gymnastics—as an athlete and a coach—required visualization, goal-setting, forward-thinking, visioning—all skills that Lauren brings into her work now. “I’m curious about the person in front of me, and I am passionate about supporting them to reach a greater purpose and be their best.”

Two years into coaching, Lauren is still early in her new career. She considers herself successful, since she is making a living from her coaching practice and earning as much money as when she was at the school. “I’m always setting my goals for something bigger and greater,” Lauren says. “But the real success for me was in taking the risk to jump without a net and trusting that I was going to be fine. I’ve learned that success is waking up and feeling fulfilled, having less stress-filled days (and nights), and knowing that I have the resilience to live through change.”

Before the self-discovery work she did as part of her preparation for coaching, Lauren would have said she was a Type A personality. “I was driven and controlling, and hiding a lot, distanced from my emotions. I knew people were depending on me, and I covered up my fear with arrogance. I had also been a huge people-pleaser, and I needed to deal with that.” Lauren had not finished her university degree because she got an offer from a dance company and always felt “not enough” because she hadn’t graduated. Going back to school and getting certified as a coach let her lay that concern to rest. “I know now, though, that I don’t need a degree to define me,” Lauren says. She furthered her education by attending Leadership Development Training, learning how to have an impact in the world at large.

“My goal now is to learn to slow down, center myself, and find a new way of being present in the moment. I used to be stuck in fear and regret. Now, I’m mindful of how I show up,” Lauren adds.

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Creating Champions

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Athletes don’t make it to the national level without good coaches. Coaches advise, develop training plans, assess the competition, refine performance, and encourage athletes to get past performance plateaus, personal challenges, and life’s rough spots. We wouldn’t expect a top athlete to succeed without a coach, so why do entrepreneurs believe we can do it alone?

Coaching can take all kinds of forms for entrepreneurs. Life coaches help us figure out what we want to do for our Fresh Start Success. Success coaches help us get over limiting beliefs and behaviors. Media coaches help us look good in front of the cameras. Financial and systems coaches help us put together accounting and back office practices that work. Human resource and management coaches teach entrepreneurs—who are usually subject-matter experts—how to be a good boss and manage a company. As marketing consultants/coaches, we help entrepreneurs see and seize opportunities to gain visibility and translate that into a stream of new clients. The bottom line is, regardless of our individual competencies, there is always more to learn—we all need coaching of one kind or another.

When you’re making your Fresh Start Success, don’t try to go it alone. If Olympic athletes need coaches, despite the fact that they’re the best in the world at what they do, then maybe you could benefit from experienced counsel, too. Don’t let your ego get in the way of finding the help you need to reach peak performance.

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The Car ChickTM

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

LeeAnn Shattuck went to college and earned degrees in Quantitative Economics and Industrial Engineering at Stanford. She followed in the footsteps of her father, who was a managing partner at Ernst & Whinney, and became an IT consultant for Anderson Consulting (which became Accenture).

“I learned a lot of different businesses and industries,” LeeAnn says. “I learned something new every day. There was always a lot of interesting new information. But the travel got old. I travelled so often that I knew all about the flight crews and their families. When the crew started to comment when I wore a new outfit, I knew it was too much.”

LeeAnn left Accenture and went to IBM, doing the same work at the same pay but working from home. After 9/11, IBM wanted her to move to New York City, and she refused. She moved to different IT jobs with smaller and smaller firms. “It was always the same hassles,” LeeAnn says. She got divorced, and her life began to shift.

“The last straw came when I asked my boss if I could work a day at home—same billable hours—to meet a repair man, and he said, ‘why can’t your wife just handle all that for you?’ It didn’t even hit him what he was saying until it was out of his mouth,” LeeAnn says. “He and his male friends all had wives who didn’t work. It was very chauvinistic.”

LeeAnn reevaluated her goals. “I asked myself why I was working eighty hour weeks to build a business for this idiot,” she recalls. “I wasn’t getting treated the same as the men, and they had zero-percent respect for work-life balance.” LeeAnn realized she was burned out and began looking for other options, including franchises.

Then the universe intervened. “I was in the bathroom when I saw a brochure about car shopping—a company that helped women shop for cars,” LeeAnn says. “I called the owner, and fell in love with the concept right then. I have always loved cars, I’ve raced cars all my life. It was fate stepping in.” The company at the time was called Women’s Automotive Solutions.

“I had no idea of what I was getting into,” LeeAnn admits. “Customers don’t magically show up. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about marketing, sales, etc. I hadn’t thought about being an entrepreneur. Working with a business partner was new, since it was just the founder and me. I went from a cushy six-figure salary to nothing for a long time.”

Thus began a journey of learning how to run and market a business. “My first customer was a young, single mother who had been taken advantage of by a con artist and stuck in a bad lease. She was terrified of going to the car lot. I helped her get out of her old lease, found her a car she loved at an affordable price, and got her out of a bad situation,” LeeAnn recalls. “This wasn’t really about cars. It was about empowering women. Cars were something I knew well. People started calling me ‘The Car Chick™’ and it stuck. That’s who I really am, and this is what I was meant to do.”

LeeAnn had to create her own support network. Her ex-husband wasn’t supportive of her venture, but her father believed in her. “Mom was a worrier,” she adds. She found groups of other women entrepreneurs and gradually found her way. “I was empowering other women, but I empowered myself, too,” LeeAnn says. “I just ignored the naysayers.”

It took about five years for the business to become profitable. “There was a big learning curve,” LeeAnn says, “and I had to get over my fears and out from under the limitations of my business partner, who had a small view of what the company could become.”

She hired a good business coach and tripled what she was charging while also increasing the services clients received. “My business is different now,” LeeAnn says. “I provide so much more value than I did originally.”

“I am not even remotely the same person that I was before,” LeeAnn says. “I was very risk-averse, and I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur. Now I’m seen as one of the most influential women in the auto industry. I used to be afraid to speak to groups—now I’m on radio and TV.”

She’s learned a lot, but there’s always something new to master. “I still get scared of a lot of things, but my fear of failure is less than my fear of not trying,” LeeAnn adds. “I don’t need a boss or a partner to be a leader. I know that this is my purpose on earth, and if I didn’t do it, I would regret it forever.”

Brands help busy consumers find a mental ‘filing place’ to remember you. Have you ever noticed how you can remember the tag lines of old advertisements decades after the products disappeared? That’s how well we remember brands—and why creating a catchy and memorable brand is an essential element in your Fresh Start Success.

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Essential Branding

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Who are you? To the world, you are the brand you create for yourself. That can be scary if you’re new to thinking of yourself as a brand. But to put it another way, you are the product, and products need a brand to stand out. So what’s yours?

One approach to coming up with your brand is to think about who you serve, what you do for them, and what result you achieve, and then distill it down to three or four words. If you try that and struggle, here’s an exercise we use with clients. Describe what you do flippantly. Now look at what you wrote down. Is there truth in what you’ve said? How could you tweak it and make it work for you? That’s exactly what LeeAnn did—and her branding propelled her business far beyond her initial expectations.

As you create your Fresh Start Success, make sure that branding is on your list of essentials!

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What’s Your Emotional Happiness Score?

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Danielle trained to be a registered dietitian, and worked as a dietitian for seven years. Although she was doing what she went to school to do, very little about the job was satisfying. “I’m a people person,” Danielle says, “and it was good to meet people and help them on their journey, but the lack of compliance made me crazy.”

She faced an uphill battle trying to help clients change dysfunctional food habits, self-destructive behaviors, and deeply-rooted emotions. Long-term successes were few and far between. “There was a lot negative energy,” Danielle recalls. The last straw was when she was sexually assaulted and faced her own emotional struggle and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the assault. Fortunately, Danielle had a good support network, so she didn’t have to deal with the situation alone.

As she considered leaving her role as a nutritionist, Danielle researched her options. “Emotional health was my number one priority, along with a job that created positive energy,” she says. “For me, that was all part of being happy.” Danielle also reassessed why she went into being a nutritionist, and what she wanted out of her reinvention.

“In my first career, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. My parents led me in that direction as a safe choice,” Danielle says.

Her husband suggested looking at becoming a massage therapist, because he said she was good at giving amateur massages to family and friends. Danielle enrolled in a part-time program at the North Carolina School of Massage and loved it. Her old job gave her plenty of experience interacting with people. Massage requires a high degree of personal interaction and communication, and it’s hands-on, requiring good rapport with clients.

“Massage is a positive profession, because people smile when they’re finished with a massage. I could provide immediate gratification to my clients, and making them feel better gratified me,” she says.

Unfortunately, one teacher left mid-way through the program. Danielle didn’t like the replacement teacher as much, but she stuck with it, and her clinical practice providing public massages went very well. She interned with the teacher who had left the school, and planned to work at the same massage practice after she graduated, but then the owner of the shop moved and offered to sell it to her.

Danielle bought the practice out of her savings and plunged into learning the business end. The old owner had been losing money. Danielle only needed six months to turn a profit and take a paycheck. “It took three years, but I’ve surpassed my old income,” Danielle says. She kept the name of the practice (“Serenity Now”) and differentiated herself by positioning the studio as the premier provider of therapeutic massage, as opposed to sheer relaxation. “I put a lot of thought into appealing to my local audience. I made sure I knew the demographics,” she adds.

What would she tell others considering making a big change? “Just do it. Jump in with both feet. You’ll surprise yourself,” Danielle says. “Find the courage to take the first step. Baby steps are okay.”

If you thrive on a certain type of work that uses your gifts and satisfies your soul, consider the options you have for how to deliver your services to fit your introvert/extrovert personality. Don’t assume that the way you’ve seen others do something is the only possibility. With today’s technology, you can be connected to the world without leaving home. At the same time, our computer addiction leaves many people hungry for personal, high-touch service that requires intensive interaction. Make your new Fresh Start Success suit you!

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Introvert or Extrovert

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Does working with people power you up or drain your battery? Do you crave company, and enjoy the bustle of a busy workplace? Or are you in your happy spot where it’s quiet and you can work with solitary focus?

Most of us are a mix of introvert and extrovert traits. You may be able to turn up the wattage and shine on stage or at a social event, then come home and collapse because you’re utterly worn out. Or you might be able to work alone on a project for hours, but then go looking to recharge by going to the mall and surrounding yourself with people. Often, we’ve learned to adapt to school and work demands for us to be either more outgoing or more solitary than we truly prefer.

As you consider your options for your own Fresh Start Success, it’s important to gauge the amount of interaction you need to feel energized and happy. For example, if being in the public eye drains you, a new career where you’re constantly on the road and making presentations is unlikely to satisfy you, regardless of the money. On the other hand, if you thrive on having people around, you may feel lonely and restless working from home with no one but the dog for company.

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What’s Your Most Productive Environment?

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

What kind of environment makes you the happiest and most productive? Don’t automatically replicate the standard office or repeat what you’re used to if that was part of what made you unhappy or less fulfilled in prior jobs. Start with understanding your natural wiring. Think outside the cubicle!

When you work in alignment with who you are innately, it’s not work.

Maybe you thrive working around other people. Consider planning to spend some of your day working from a coffee shop, library, or fast food venue, rent a keyman office in a shared office building, and do a lot of networking events.

If solitude helps you focus, find a quiet place where you can gather your thoughts. Reinvent your approach to filing, document storage, and other key aspects. As long as you meet legal requirements, create systems that work well for the way you think and work. Make creating the right environment part of your Fresh Start Success!

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Good Systems Are Essential for Success

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Lisa Mininni knows entrepreneurship firsthand. She studied business in college and went on to earn a master’s of science in administration. She became a vice president of human resources for a large healthcare system early in her career and enjoyed a lot of success. A number of mergers and acquisitions gave her the opportunity to gain plenty of experience in organizational change.

While she was the catalyst for successful union negotiations, had high employee engagement scores, and was good at turning chaos into order, when the decision was made to dismantle the division she was working in, she laid everyone off, including herself.

Lisa wanted to find a similar position, but in 2001, she was in her mid-30s and there were few vice president of human resources positions open. People said she looked “too young” for the job.

Then one day, Lisa was driving down the highway, and something popped up from the freeway. She covered her face with her hands, and a tire iron flew into the front seat, shattering the windshield. Lisa shook off the glass and realized she had no injuries, but the tire iron had only missed her by four inches, and it left a six-inch gash in her hood. When the cops came to the scene of the accident, all three of them said, “Geez, you’re on this Earth for a reason,” because she survived without injury.

“All I had known my entire career was working for someone else,” Lisa said. “I had been asking God whether I should start a business and write a book, and then the accident happened, and I knew I was here to do something important.”

The first two years striking out on her own were hard. Thanks to her background in quality improvement, Lisa was very good at streamlining and found that coaching was intuitive for her. She was good at helping people control costs and save money. Her mentor asked her what her conversion rate was and she reported eighty percent, thinking that wasn’t very good, but that success rate stunned her mentor.

That’s when Lisa realized her system was working well. She intuitively assessed how people wanted to receive their information, then validated those prospects through her pre-qualification systems, and that led to them becoming very successful clients.

At that point, Lisa decided she was onto something. She created her own signature program and started attracting people who wanted to know how to build systems to show their uniqueness and work in alignment with who they were. Lisa created Excellerate Associates, an entrepreneurial and leadership institute, to share her vision.

After Lisa began coaching, she realized she needed to make a mental shift to focus on what she wanted to contribute to the world, instead of what she wanted out of coaching. “I wanted to make an impact. I didn’t want someone who was making the transformation from corporate employee to success to struggle as long as I did. Gradually, I developed systems to make that transformation easier. If I’d had my own system right from the start, I believe I could have cut two years off my three-year learning curve,” she says.

Lisa also wanted to make a contribution based on her unique self and to work in alignment with who she was, rather than trying to fit someone else’s mold. “Being in alignment makes it much easier to triage priorities,” she says. “And I needed to figure it out quickly because I did not want to keep working a ninety-hour week.”

So she worked with a coach for over a year to shift from a self-serving point of view to a vision of contributing to the world. “I learned that it’s not all about me, me, me,” she said. “People are put in your path for a reason,” Lisa says. “That proved itself again and again as I was networking while I developed my program. You just don’t know who you’re going to meet.”

With her hardwiring, she empowered business owners to transform their contribution in the world.

Lisa discovered that she had always connected disparate ideas, and her skills were honed by working in chaotic organizations without good infrastructure. “In successful businesses, you create accountabilities and strong systems. When that is missing, there is chaos. Now, I’ve married both hardwiring and systems to create a powerful shift, and it is something we teach through my business.”

The third year of business was the tipping point for Lisa, when she hit “critical mass” and revenue went way up. Now, Lisa and her team of Profitability Lab Leaders educate small business owners, entrepreneurs, and business leaders on biological hardwiring. Mental “wiring” is biological and dictates the type of environment in which a person is best equipped to thrive and succeed, and the kind of environment in which people prefer to live and work. She is also the best-selling author of Me, Myself, and Why? Get More Clients Now! and the co-author of Leading Women.

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Structure Matters

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

When you leave corporate life and strike out as an entrepreneur, you quickly notice that you miss the lovely support that was always just a few steps away.

Computer problems? There’s no IT department, so you either fix it yourself or find someone who can. Ditto accounting, marketing, sales—you get the picture.

As a business owner, you’re the CEO—and the one who empties the garbage cans. It’s a real adjustment to make.

Setting up systems is crucial to your Fresh Start Success. Your systems need to be suited to your personality so that you use them without constant friction.

Creating systems isn’t always intuitive, but having them is essential. As you consider your reinvention, think about how you want to structure your new business, as well as the impact you want to have in the world.

If systems and structure aren’t your strong point, find a mentor who can help you avoid pitfalls. Getting the structure and systems in place at the beginning can be a real factor in creating your Fresh Start Success!

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