It’s the season of telling graduates to do what they love, but what do you do when what you love changes? After reinventing my own career and working with hundreds of executives who have changed theirs, I’ve learned some techniques for maximizing the odds of success.
- Listen to Your Instincts. In college, I planned to get a law degree and go into public service. Then I did an internship with a state senator and realized that I’m not cut out for the culture of politics. So instead of attending law school, I started a business career. It wasn’t easy to land that first job without a business degree, but when I look around now, I know I made absolutely the right decision.
- Ask People Who Know You. Seventeen years later, my travel-heavy fashion career no longer worked with life as the newly single mother of a young son. I wanted something different, but didn’t know what, so I asked people who knew me for ideas. They kept saying the same things:You’d be great in search. You know so many people; you are so well connected. I gave it a shot, and my friends were right. I had found an industry I love.
- Set up a Personal Board of Advisors. I soon wanted to make the industry better with my own executive talent solutions firm, but I had no experience as an entrepreneur. I launched JBK anyway and, in hindsight, could have made those early days easier by reaching out in advance to experienced entrepreneurs. My lesson: an informal board of advisors can help anyone’s career, especially during times of transition.
- Start a Daily Morning Pep Talk. Every transition has obstacles, and mine were economic, from the downturn that struck as my business opened to the Great Recession that created hard times for everyone. Giving myself a morning pep talk helped. Sometimes the talk was short:Yesterday stunk; let’s see what today brings. But it made a difference, and JBK Associates International went on to become one of America’s fastest-growing private companies.
- Believe in yourself. As a first-time entrepreneur, I focused on telling anybody and everybody who would listen to me what I was doing. I remember thinking every day, who else can I talk to? Who else can I meet? Where can I put myself so that people know who I am? That combination worked. Whatever your career change, even when you don’t know what will happen next, your passion and energy can carry you to new success.