How Do I Answer “What Do You Do?” When It’s… Complicated?

“What do you do?” seems to be one of the most dreaded questions. Especially for people in transition or who feel like what they’re doing might be judged. It makes us squirm a little…. or a lot.

It can be especially hard for introverts and perfectionists who like to think before talking and then speak in a thorough way. It’s hard to find a good simple answer!

And yet, we are faced with this question so often. It might sound like this in your head when you get that question:

  • “I better have something good to say, Now!”
  • “They’ll think I’m a freak if I tell the truth!”
  • “They’ll think I’m a loser if I don’t have a ‘legitimate’ answer.”
  • “I feel like I have no clear identity like other people have.”
  • “I don’t want them to know I have family money to support me.”
  • “Staying at home with kids doesn’t seem like a real answer. Maybe I should do more.”
  • “I have tons of ideas but they’re still messy and I hate talking about it at this stage.”
  • “I don’t want to tell them I’ve been sick for a year. Ugh.”

Can you relate? It’s… Complicated.

Even people who know what they do for work can get nervous with this question. It almost feels like the asker wants us to define ourselves, right now, in one sentence. It’s just impossible to summarize ourselves like that.

Since I talk to so many people in transition, I get this question about how to answer “What do you do?” all the time. I want to share some things I’ve found helpful. Continue reading

Top 3 Concerns of Women Returning to Work

Image: From the white board during a coaching session. "It's hell in the hallway."

Image: This is from the white board during a coaching session with a woman in transition.

A lot of women come to see me when they are at a point of returning to work after a hiatus. Maybe the kids are growing up, or it’s a divorce or other transition. Sometimes it’s by choice and sometimes not.

Whatever the reason, they often have these 3 worries:

  1. Has the world passed me by? Will I be able to keep up with today’s technology?
  2. Do I really have something to offer when my brain has been focused on other things for so long? I’ve lost my confidence.
  3. How the heck do people juggle professional and personal lives? I’m so busy already!

You’re not alone with these worries. I get it that they may be weighing heavily on you.

Those worries will get in your way if you don’t address them head on.

I’m going to address each concern briefly here. I can’t solve all the stress here, but I hope you will discover that it might be easier than you think.

Continue reading

LinkedIn Profile Essentials: Why and How

It’s time for a post about LinkedIn because I’m spending a lot of time explaining it. Even people who have been using it a while are not using it as well as they could be. You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t use it, or if you don’t use it well. It’s not just for stuffy “businessy” people. You’ll find plenty of heart-centered people in there.

And it doesn’t take much time at all! There’s really no down side to having an updated LinkedIn profile. And plenty of up sides.

Below are a few specific reasons why you should spiff up your profile, followed by quick tips on how to make it work best. I’m including links to step-by-step instructions.

Even if you’re sure social media is not for you, at least get a listing in LinkedIn and I’ll let you off the hook on the rest.

My LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn says I’m an all-star. That’s fun to see.

Who am I to advise on this?

I’ve been using LinkedIn longer than most people have even heard of it, and I’ve tinkered around to see what works. I gave gotten business from LinkedIn with very little effort. And I’m in the top 5% of most viewed LinkedIn profiles. I understand social media and I enjoy sharing the shortcuts.

So here’s my checklist for you…

Continue reading

You Are Closer Than You Think

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
~Thomas Edison

The shore is there even when you can't see it through the fog.

The shore is there even when you can’t see it through the fog.

You’d be surprised how many people come to see me for career or business guidance who are sure they are completely lost at sea in a fog, only to discover they were only a mile from shore.

And then there are often tears at the discovery — both for the relief, and for the grief — of having tread water for so long. Continue reading

Your “Worst” Trait Could Be Your Superpower

The 'flaws' make it beautiful.

The ‘flaws’ make it beautiful.

One of my clients recently told me (and gave permission to quote this),

I realize that my perceived weaknesses were actually my greatest strengths, and now my work depends on those ‘weaknesses’.” 

That’s actually a common experience! A trait in ourselves we’ve hated turns out to be our biggest gift!!

And our career fulfillment might depend on uncovering that gift.

Continue reading