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ET-093: A conversation with Dr. Benjamin Ritter

ET-093: A conversation with Dr. Benjamin Ritter

and your host Wayne Brown on March 19, 2024

and your host Wayne Brown on March 19, 2024

Episode notes: A conversation with Dr. Benjamin Ritter

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET.

This week we’re heading to Austin, Texas in the United States and we’re chatting with Dr. Benjamin Ritter, founder of Live for Yourself Consulting, which he established back in 2016. Benjamin is a leadership and career coach, talent development executive, values geek, international speaker, online instructor of the course, Be The Leader Of Your Own Career And Create A Career That You Love.

In addition, and through Live for Yourself Consulting, Benjamin offers services for senior leaders and entrepreneurs that feel stuck or unfulfilled at work. Ranging from one-to-one coaching, group workshops and talent development programs, Live for Yourself Consulting cares deeply about creating a world where work and organization are sources of meaning.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

Luckily, because I was in this new leadership program, I was selected for 16 months of leadership training. And during that training, I met a person who changed my life, he was the director of the program, he managed all 13 different hospital sites, ’cause in healthcare. And by talking to him, he was the first safe place I felt that I had. I just laid it on the table. I told him how disengaged I was, I was very open about going into work, not to work, about sneaking out at lunchtime to go to the gym for two hours because I just couldn’t handle sitting at my cubicle anymore. He didn’t judge me, he was open, he played the role of a coach and it finally hit me that what he was doing for me is what I wanted to do for everyone else. I was sick of the leaders that just kind of ignored my situation and I was sick of my own mindset…

Today’s Guest: DR. BENJAMIN RITTER

Benjamin’s clients tend to be senior managers to executives, are overworked, overwhelmed and underutilized and lack clarity, confidence and control over their careers. They’re unsure about the next steps in terms of their work or business and despite professional success don’t feel successful.

In short, Benjamin works with individuals to develop their personal brand, helps them get clear on the work that they’re meant to do and grow that into a meaningful career either in an organization or out on their own.

Live for Yourself Consulting bases its programs on two distinct and exclusive coaching systems, the 3C’s of self-leadership, clarity, confidence and control and the LIVE system, life, intentions, values and expectations. Benjamin is also host of two podcasts, The Executive and The Live for Yourself Revolution. Dr Benjamin Ritter brings enormous value to the table for his clients and I’m expecting our conversation is going to be equally powerful.

Final words from Benjamin:

For all the leaders listening, please keep in mind that the most important leader is the one that lives inside you, nobody else. You’re the one that makes your mind up, that feels the things that you feel, that believes the things you believe. And so, serve yourself, be the best leader that you can, be the leader that you’d like to work for. And also keep in mind that the same thing goes for your team.

You’re not responsible for the work they produce, you’re not responsible for how they feel. You are responsible, though, for creating an environment that is best suited towards them. So, get to know the people that work for you and try to curate an environment that leans to their strengths as well as their goals in their career. And you’ve done your job…

Transcript:

[music]

0:00:06.7 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host Wayne Brown and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. And this week we’re heading to Austin, Texas in the United States and we’re chatting with Dr. Benjamin Ritter, founder of Live for Yourself Consulting, which he established back in 2016. Benjamin is a leadership and career coach, talent development executive, values geek, international speaker, online instructor of the course, Be The Leader Of Your Own Career And Create A Career That You Love. In addition and through Live for Yourself Consulting, Benjamin offers services for senior leaders and entrepreneurs that feel stuck or unfulfilled at work. Ranging from one-to-one coaching, group workshops and talent development programs, Live for Yourself Consulting cares deeply about creating a world where work and organization are sources of meaning. Benjamin’s clients tend to be senior managers to executives, are overworked, overwhelmed and underutilized and lack clarity, confidence and control over their careers. They’re unsure about the next steps in terms of their work or business and despite professional success don’t feel successful.

0:01:24.7 WB: In short, Benjamin works with individuals to develop their personal brand, helps them get clear on the work that they’re meant to do and grow that into a meaningful career either in an organization or out on their own. Live for Yourself Consulting bases its programs on two distinct and exclusive coaching systems, the 3C’s of self-leadership, clarity, confidence and control and the LIVE system, life, intentions, values and expectations. Benjamin is also host of two podcasts, The Executive and The Live for Yourself Revolution. Dr Benjamin Ritter brings enormous value to the table for his clients and I’m expecting our conversation is going to be equally powerful. So please get yourself ready for our discussion around the pursuit of that often elusive meaningful job.

0:02:20.5 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:37.6 WB: Hello and welcome to ET. Today our guest is Dr Benjamin Ritter. We’re going to be discussing careers, more particularly the pursuit of what I would like to believe the often elusive meaningful job. And this will probably take us into topics such as values, congruence and overall job satisfaction which just happened to be something that we both share a passion for. So with that said, we’re going to jump straight into welcome Dr Ritter into our show, The ET Project. Ben, truly a pleasure to have you join us today.

0:03:16.0 Dr. Benjamin Ritter: I’m very happy to be here, happy to join the audience members and listeners.

0:03:19.9 WB: Before we get too deep into the overall discussion, I have to ask, is there such a thing as the perfect job? It seems like we could run the risk of spending a lot of time and energy chasing the holy grail and never really come up with anything.

0:03:40.0 DR: I guess you could say that there isn’t, but then you could also say that there is ’cause we get to choose. One of the biggest mistakes that we make when it comes to our work is that we choose that our current job is not our perfect job, we choose that there is something better. And so in your mind, if you already have created the better thing, and the thing that you’re working towards, ultimately the thing that you’re doing is not going to be perfect. The job or the perfect job or the fulfilling job, I just like to think of it as job satisfaction is going to change based on a variety of factors that change constantly in your work. For example, if your work is challenging or if you feel confident with your work, that has an impact on your levels of job satisfaction. A job could be perfect right now, but depending on what happens and what factors influence it, it may fall out of that sweet spot. And so we just have to be aware of that. And we also have to make a choice that we’re going to make our jobs perfect instead of trying to find that perfect job all the time.

0:04:48.6 WB: Nice starting, opening conversation point. So let’s step back at the moment, if we could, a couple of paces. I think it would be great to learn a little bit more about your journey, I guess it starts back when you leave college, if you don’t mind, if you can just sort of fill in the blanks.

0:05:07.5 DR: Yeah, well, if we’re talking about job satisfaction and such, I think we’re probably just going to have to make a note that I’ve had a variety of different jobs growing up. I used to fix houses with my dad, be in the basement, knee deep in sewage with the sump pump, I used to do a variety of little home remodeling types of jobs with him. I also sit in his office when he was a real estate agent, so learned about real estate through him. But I also started my own dog walking business, sold lemonade on the street corner, just like all those other kids. Flipped burgers, waited tables, cleaned floors. I was a camp counselor, I was a music festival production assistant, I was a brand ambassador, I did some weird stuff, I had plaster poured over me to become a mannequin in a Civil War museum. So there’s stuff that I did when it comes to work that probably does not relate to what some people might call work or think of as work. And so my upbringing, when it comes to having a job, really focused around making money and having unique experiences. And it also goes along with the fact that I wanted to be a professional athlete for most of my life, so I never really bought into the general nine-to-five. You take all this information and then you move into the professional working world ’cause I was not a professional athlete, did not become one.

0:06:28.4 DR: And lo and behold, pretty dissatisfied with what options I have out there when it comes to a full time career, never really felt something was right for me. Then mix in the fact that I had a pretty tough time getting a full time job, not a grad school. So four different job offers given to me, signed, confirmed, then have them all canceled. And so then I end up finally in a full time position that I never really wanted, that I networked into didn’t really feel like I chose with a ton of career trauma, honestly, and career disappointment. And if anyone listening has suffered through a loss of a job, a layoff, a terrible boss, anything that could have left a mark, you have career trauma. And that impacts how you perceive work, how you can be satisfied at work and what you think is a fulfilling career. Now, I ended up working in healthcare, I got promoted into the executive team, they kept dangling some carrots to keep me there, even though I was looking for my way out constantly. And I was pretty dissatisfied, I was disengaged, I was going into work, not to work, and worst of all, I blamed everyone else around me other than myself. I was a victim. I had a very, very strong victim mentality that led to resentment and frustration and anger and stress. And eventually like a type of burnout, even though I wasn’t working very hard.

0:07:49.6 DR: Luckily, because I was in this new leadership program, I was selected for 16 months of leadership training. And during that training, I met a person who changed my life, he was the director of the program, he managed all 13 different hospital sites, ’cause in healthcare. And by talking to him, he was the first safe place I felt that I had. I just laid it on the table. I told him how disengaged I was, I was very open about going into work, not to work, about sneaking out at lunchtime to go to the gym for two hours because I just couldn’t handle sitting at my cubicle anymore. He didn’t judge me, he was open, he played the role of a coach and it finally hit me that what he was doing for me is what I wanted to do for everyone else. I was sick of the leaders that just kind of ignored my situation and I was sick of my own mindset. And I wanted… I learned through his work that he was changing that, he was helping high achievers who were disengaged and he was helping leaders develop to create a place where people could say that they actually felt fulfilled at work. And so at that point, a little light bulb went off above my head, it was the perfect merger of coaching, which I loved ’cause I had a little bit of a side hustle going on then, and social psychology, behavioral psychology and organizational leadership and leadership development.

0:09:04.0 DR: And so I started paving the path to figure out how to get there and it took me some time, some strategizing, some twists and turns. But lo and behold, that was like 2015, we’ve made it and we have a pretty successful career in business at this point.

0:09:19.6 WB: What was it that he did with you that was really so transformational? Like was there something, was it a trigger or was it just his general approach? 

0:09:29.7 DR: I didn’t know this type of work existed, I had no idea, then thinking about how I grew up and the options that I saw available to me, I did not know that this was the thing. So it seemed like it was the solution to the issues that I was facing constantly. So my leaders being very authoritative and having kind of a dictator style of leadership, very transactional, sitting in executive meetings with the CEO, wordsmithing one sentence at a time. And so being in the boardroom until 11 o’clock at night before corporate report out for literally no reason, for my coworkers coming in crying because the VP had gender bias and said that women couldn’t do anything, and couldn’t do work and was like very judgmental. And dealing with these terrible toxic environments and not knowing that there was an actual industry to fix them. And so he highlighted that for me and I think the other piece was, is he was an actual, he was like the epitome of what I believed worked personally. So I went through my own personal development journey when I was younger, I had no identity, I lost self-confidence and I was overly critical of myself and had a ton of limiting beliefs. I worked through that on my own through self-study and through exploration and getting uncomfortable. And I didn’t know they had that same type of work for the professional world.

0:10:43.4 DR: And so to see him come towards me without judgment, to come towards me with the coaching mentality, a questioning mentality, a stance of curiosity, all those combined, not immediately, but raised the option and created a lightbulb within myself to say this is something I could do. If I wanna go… If I want to merge all the interests that I have in my career and also something to have it personally be important to me, this is the path that I wanna go. I’m not sure what I want to do yet, but this is the path that I wanna go.

0:11:15.7 WB: And what is it you’re doing today, like specifically what is the business that you’re running and doing? 

0:11:22.7 DR: So at that point, I pivoted and I first started trying to do some talent development work at the organization. And I got… My VP said, “Sure, go ahead and do it.” I started taking on some small projects, but then everyone got fired. So that path was closed, they did this, they… We got acquired, so they centralized all the work, all the projects I was working on got canceled, so that path was closed. So the path to me that seemed open was to go get my doctorate in organizational leadership. As I was getting my doctorate, I was trying to decide what I wanted to do in the space. And so then in 2016, I decided that I wanted to create a business, Live for Yourself Consulting that focused on helping people take back control of their careers in a way that I was doing for myself. I was merging the research I was doing in values congruence and job satisfaction, leadership development and talent development, motivation, et cetera. That has led me to today, basically being a senior talent management consultant, so I do enterprise level leader coaching and assessment and talent delivery. But then also outside of the corporate world as a leader and career coach. So we provide career coaching to leaders. So leaders that feel stuck, leaders that aren’t sure what to do next, leaders that are getting crickets when they’re trying to get that next job.

0:12:33.0 DR: And eventually those personal clients after they land, like a CEO to CEEO or VP to COO or senior director to a VP, et cetera, those levels, generally they keep us… They keep me on as they onboard. So as they want to now learn how to manage as a leader and develop their executive presence and manage their teams and just manage life with increased responsibilities, we continue that coaching process with them. This where I’m at today developed from when I founded my business in 2016, so what is that? Eight years now. And through that though, I’ve had some really fun global speaking opportunities, workshops, I’ve worked with some major corporations, worked with startups. But also through that time when I was pitching a consulting client, they like, “Hey you wanna come internal and be the head of talent development here and start our talent development department.” So then I went internal and built that talent development department, it’s led to some really cool opportunities. And I think when you are consistent and when you are doing what you love and you show up with passion and you also knowledge, so you do the research and you do the work and you do good work and you show up for your clients that leads to some pretty cool opportunities. And so it’s allowed me to expand out of my own business and do some internal W, some people call it W-2 nine-to-five work as well, but with that same type of flexibility that I would bring to my own work.

0:13:54.6 WB: You’ve written an ebook, which offers quite a straightforward five step approach. And I thought it might be interesting for the viewers if we could go through those steps and you could elaborate on them if you don’t mind. The first step is to pause. Sounds simple, but I suspect it’s more challenging than first glance.

0:14:15.4 DR: Whenever I get on a call with someone, they’re looking to change their career, generally, they’re unhappy about something. And I just reflect back on the days I would go into work and just be so frustrated with everyone around me and to have these stories about how I’ve been treated and these stories about how I’m in the wrong place, it is a very defeating place to be. And normally I’m not working with someone that’s like, “Oh, I’m unhappy, I just figured out I’m unhappy. I’ve been unhappy for 24 hours and I’m gonna go hire a coach.” Most of the people I’m working with have been unhappy for a long time.

0:14:46.4 WB: Yes.

0:14:46.8 DR: And if you are in that environment, it imprints on you. Generally, when people decide to change a job finally, they’re like, “I wanna do it now, I’m gonna move forward to now. And they wanna go, go, go and… Or maybe they’ve lost a job and they’re in this fear state, this fear mentality, fight or flight. We just need to take a breath for a moment. We need to try to disassociate ourselves from the trauma that is currently getting in the way of us thinking clearly and strategically and creatively. And so that pause is really important because we have to honor the fact that we’ve gone through some pretty terrible times, even if it’s in our head. The fact that we went through those times, we have to say, okay, this doesn’t define who I am though, or my career or work, I can redefine it. I’ve been successful, I’ve gotten jobs, I can get another job. So we have almost like this honoring of our past, this pausing just to try to disassociate ourselves from that fight or flight, and then trying to create some hope for the future all in that, just that break, that just pause in that moment.

0:15:56.0 WB: You mentioned our belief system and being able to reflect back, there’s also the chance for many people, I guess, that belief around their past experience is driving their current experience and it may not always be positive. So I’m listening as you’re speaking and I’m thinking, this is where a coach becomes so valuable, that they can help you see things that you may not see when you’re so deep in the middle of everything.

0:16:26.6 DR: That’s the power of coaching is someone that can sit there and reflect back, sometimes it’s as simple as reflecting back your own thoughts. Because once they’re out of your body and you’re able to hear them from an outside perspective, it can be a game changer. We could do that too and this is not all coaching is, a lot of coaching is reinterpretation, reframing, they’re able to ask questions to get to the information, but let’s say you have some of the information. Well, why not set a recorder up, hit record and just talk to yourself about your experiences and when you finish a thought, ask yourself a question about what you just shared and literally have a conversation with yourself. It’s very similar to journaling, but it’s verbal. I do recommend journaling, but if let some people don’t like writing or it takes time or they make an excuse, “I have to… ” They have to set it up. And anytime we create things that can get in the way of us doing something, I say, “Let’s change, let’s change that process.” And so you can just set up a recorder, hit record on your phone and start talking, go for a walk and start talking, and talk about what you’ve gone through and start asking yourself questions about that. You may get to some pretty interesting results, pretty interesting information that you weren’t aware of.

0:17:39.0 WB: Yeah. Second step is to believe. So what does that mean? 

0:17:43.5 DR: I kind of hinted at it just a second ago. It’s just that you are skilled, you have strengths, you are capable, you’ve gotten jobs before, your career is not one job, one boss does not depict all bosses. The fact that you didn’t have work-life balance in one job doesn’t mean that all those jobs have no… Don’t have work-life balance. The fact that a coworker backstabbed you or stepped on you to get higher doesn’t mean that every coworker is gonna be like that. And if we can let go of our experiences as not defining of our future experiences, we have a chance. We have a chance to make something new for ourselves. And so believing is crucial, it’s important. If one of the greatest benefits, I think to getting a coach is getting out of that negative mindset, the idea that, oh, this market is terrible, oh, no one wants to hire me, oh, no one wants to respond to my resume, no one wants to bring me for an interview. Oh, no one’s gonna select me for a job.

0:18:38.4 DR: I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with. They’ve been trying for a year and a half, two years, no responses. We get together, we just fix their brand, all of a sudden they’re getting recruiters reach out to them. And it’s like this total change in hope. And when you can believe in yourself, you show up differently in interviews, you show up differently in your personal relationships, you show up differently day-to-day, you show up differently in your social media posts. It’s a game changer. People can feel it.

0:19:02.3 WB: One of the things I know comes out of coaching is that we work towards solutions rather than fixate on the problem. The believing part, whilst often it’s negative, the solution helps us see the other side. You can put actions and plans in place that help move in that direction. So the third step you’ve touched on, but I believe it goes much deeper than that, which is to reflect. And I think this is where some of our values may come into play, if I’m correct? 

0:19:31.2 DR: So once we’ve taken a breath, we’ve started believing in what’s possible. If you start reflecting, you’re able to now hopefully think a little bit more clearly about where you want to go. And honestly, maybe some of the things that you were doing wrong in your past job, or what you could be doing differently. You can reflect on your strengths, reflect on your values, you reflect on the types of organizations, types of people that you want to be around. They’re very simple questions, but we don’t generally answer them. I put together 11 questions, I posted it on a LinkedIn article, I posted it on my newsletter, anyone can find it. And it’s 11 questions to really figure out what your ideal career is. 11 questions, that’s it.

0:20:12.5 DR: And I bet you’ll get to some positive… Some good information. I can’t tell you how many people I started working with who say they’ve done the assessments, they’ve done the questionnaires, they’ve sat down and tried to figure out what they want to do. But then we sit down and we answer those questions, or they reflect back on the jobs that they’ve had previously that they’ve liked, what has drained them, what has brought them energy, and all of a sudden, they’re not lost. The information was there the entire time, but what was getting in the way was the negative experiences they’ve had in the work that they’ve loved. And so they start thinking that no matter what, that work can’t be what they love because they’ve had such a negative experience doing it. They blame the work instead of the boss. They blame the work instead of their mindset. They blame the work instead of the co-worker. And so being able to sit back and reflect allows you to really get clear on the work that you truly want to do.

0:21:06.1 WB: If you were to do this as a coaching exercise, I imagine it’s going to be a progression over a period where you can really start to grow your self-awareness and then start to self-regulate. How do you approach it when you’re coaching? 

0:21:22.8 DR: Generally, this works really well in coaching because you have multiple meetings, and each meeting is able to build trust, and each meeting is able to reveal more information. And so the coach can start seeing the through lines between the different pieces that you’re sharing and the things that you care about. Also, hopefully, a coaching relationship involves having the client get uncomfortable and go have some conversations with people in the space or in jobs that they might be interested in. And that information also is really revealing because generally, most people that hire a career or leadership coach haven’t really gotten out of their bubble. They’re still probably like… Their relationships are probably at home. Their relationships are probably from their current employer. If they’re working remotely, they probably don’t have… They haven’t been talking to a lot of people. And so if the coach is able to connect the dots but also motivate the individual to go speak to other people, those other people offer a whole different perspective on work and about jobs and about the career to the individual, to the client, that they just have been locked away from.

0:22:33.0 WB: Which is leading into step four, explore. So this particular one sounds a little bit more challenging, perhaps a little bit more difficult for some people. What is it that you suggest that they do? 

0:22:45.4 DR: It’s very similar to what I’ve been sharing already, but the answers might be inside. But most of the time, you won’t be able to find them until you start getting curious with people and things around you. I can’t tell you how many leaders that I’ve met that are interested in growing as a leader, but they’ve never listened to a podcast about leadership. Or an individual that doesn’t understand why they’re not getting a job, but they’ve never listened to a podcast about How to Write a Resume. Or someone that’s really interested in a… For example, this is just totally random, someone that’s interested in archeology, but has never read a book on archeology. It’s just, if you’re looking for something to do in your career, you’re interested in jobs, certain jobs, then go out there. I actually was just on a call with someone earlier today. They want to get more involved in sales positions. They’re currently like a VP of customer success.

0:23:36.7 WB: They want to merge the field of sales. And they’re having difficulty because they’ve mainly been in like a professional services type of business. They haven’t really been in a SaaS company before. And I go like, “Well, what’s your exposure to SaaS? What’s your exposure to that industry?” And he goes, “Well, I haven’t really done anything yet.” I go, “But you’re interviewing for those jobs. How are you going to show that you understand that industry if you haven’t gone to explore and learned about it? How do you even know that this is something that you want to actually do?” And so explore means, go immerse yourself just like you would in school. If you had a test on the topic, how would you go learn? Go talk to people that are doing the job at a step above you. Go read a book or listen to a podcast about it. Go test out your theories of interest. Once you do that, I promise you, you’re going to know so much more. Knowledge doesn’t come from just inside you. It comes from testing the ideas that you have within you.

0:24:30.4 WB: Is there any guideline that you offer about the extent of this exploration? Like, should I read 1 book? Should I read 10 books? Should I speak to 10 people? Is there any guidance that you could offer? 

0:24:42.0 DR: For every one thing you do to learn, you need to do one thing to talk. And in the next step, I’ll kind of… We’ll talk… Well, the guidance kind of goes together.

0:24:57.5 WB: Right.

0:24:57.6 DR: But in general, if all you’re doing is exploring on your own, then you’re not fully exploring. You need to balance exploring, which is with the next step, which would be testing. Once you get an idea from your exploration, and once you’ve gotten more than a spark, maybe a little bit of kindling or a fire, now you’ve been curious. You’ve maybe met some people and built some relationships, you really need to get out there and try it out. You need to go, maybe volunteer, or maybe in one of your connections, ask them if they have a small project. Or better yet, make your own. I was talking… Again, going back to that initial conversation today, if he’s in interviews and they’re asking him, “What sort of cold prospecting have you done?” And his answer is, “None.” But he knows it’s going to be a question in every interview. Go sell something.

0:25:50.2 DR: Whatever it is, open the phone book and sell something. Call 100 people. So then next time you’re in an interview, you can say, “I actually just recently built a prospect list of 100 candidates. I called each one of them. This is the type of experiences that I’ve had. I had one sale.” And do it yourself. Make it happen for yourself. Build stories where not only are you going to know what you want to do, but you’re going to be able to prove that you can do it. Just one more thing, I was talking with an individual and he was a little worried, and this happens sometimes when you get really good at trying to go get a job. He was going to have one job offer before another one was done. And he really wanted the second one. And he said, “Well, I have to make a decision.” You can always say no to something. If you’re showing up authentically, if you’re doing good work, if you’re making decisions based on all the information that you have at once, if you decide to leave that job, if you decide to make a change, that’s your choice. Just do it in a way that is moral and ethical and honors the people in front of you. So that just, as soon as you know, go to them. I don’t care if it’s a day into the job. You have to serve yourself first when it comes to your career. The organization is going to do that as well.

0:27:07.1 WB: I mentioned at the beginning today that we’ll probably touch on values congruence. And you mentioned it a little bit in step three. How do you start with assessing your values, but then how do you really know as you’re looking at a future prospect that there’s really that alignment? 

0:27:32.5 DR: Well, just to let everyone know, you’re not going to figure out your values in a 30-minute activity. Even in coaching, you probably aren’t going to figure them out. It probably will take three to four sessions plus your own work in-between. Figure out your values, you’re exploring them, you’re defining them, you’re aligning them, then you’re testing them. It’s a big process. Please don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself when it comes to really trying to understand your values. This is a step-by-step process. It’s going to take some time. The easiest way though to really understand what your values are is to take a look at your past memories to see where you were the happiest and least happy. Now people sometimes ask me like, “Ben, what if I have aspirational values? What if I have values that I want to be important to me, but I haven’t really done them in my life?” I go, “Great, we’ll get to those. You can choose them, but if you haven’t done them yet, are they really important? And if they’re really important, then how are you going to start structuring your life to to prioritize them?”

0:28:35.0 DR: So if you want to actually uncover what your values are, you look at your happiest memories and least happiest memories and you start really just getting detailed about what those experiences were like and then after you detail out those experiences at work and in your personal life, you get a general idea of when you’re most fulfilled and when you’re least fulfilled. You then can ask yourself a question, “Well, based on this information who am I? How would I define myself?” And you start writing phrases and keywords. And so generally, you have like a muck of words in this whole bunch of stuff that you then can start pulling specific terms from that resonate with you more. Then you go through a process of prioritization. And this, again, this is over time. And so generally you’ll have a list of like 5 to 10 to 15 words or phrases that matter to you.

0:29:25.4 WB: Yeah.

0:29:25.8 DR: And then you go to each one of them and you say, “Well, if I had this but not this would that be okay? If I had this but not this would it be okay? If I had health but not adventure would that be okay? If I had adventure but not openness would that be okay? If I had loyalty but not openness would that be okay?” And you start ordering them, and eventually you’ll have a list. I generally say have three to five because that’s all that really are gonna matter. And then once you have that list you’re still not even done yet. You have to define them for what they mean to your professional life, to your personal life, for your relationships. And I think people… This is where people tend to get tripped up, they don’t realize that their values have different meanings for different areas of their life. You can have the same value but they can be defined differently. And that definition can also change over time. So I can keep going but maybe this is a little bit more complicated than we might want to go into, but, generally, values are where you feel fulfilled, where you feel flow, where you feel that you’ll be willing to sacrifice. In general, it’s where… If you surrounded yourself with these types of things or showed up in this specific way, you would feel energized, you would feel content, you would feel motivated. Generally, more so, you would feel a lack of frustration and a lack of conflict.

0:30:46.6 WB: Once you’ve established that you’re looking to shift careers, how do you make that same awareness possible when you’re looking at an organization that you haven’t worked for before and you’re looking from the outside in? 

0:31:02.4 DR: I would highly recommend other than just values when you’re looking for a new job, you actually include some job-specific traits. So benefits, communication style, feedback, autonomy, projects, all that fun like all co-workers, peers, you have to build in some other other job-specific functions. Generally, the work that you’re going to do, career development opportunities, meaning behind the work, leadership style, peer support, social connection, and then benefits, comp, et cetera. All important. Whatever they are, you should build a list. And this list actually goes in a nice little Excel spreadsheet. Column A you have whatever it is you’re measuring, whatever category it is. Column B is your rating 1 to 10 and you total it. You have 10 things, scores out of 100, and you total the job on that.

0:31:54.1 DR: Now, you can also rate multiple aspects of the job. You can rate the leader in alignment to your values, you can rate the work in alignment to your values, you can rate your co-workers, you can rate the organization as a whole or the department. And, oh, it sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Yeah. But it’s really valuable, especially if you are trying to avoid the fact that you were burnt in the past. It’s a way for you to slow down, it’s a way for you to figure out interview questions, because if you have a trait that you’re scoring against you need to ask a question about that in an interview. And so often I see people rush through the interview process, instead of just pause, go to the manager and say, “Hey, I would like an extra 45 minutes with the hiring manager, please.” Just to ask a couple additional questions. That is a fair thing to ask. “I would like an extra 30 minutes. Can you select someone from the team that I would be working with so I can have a conversation with them please about this position, about the organization?” You’re also allowed to do that.

0:32:51.6 WB: A lot of what you’re talking about there builds into job satisfaction. This broader classification of being able to have a degree of confidence that if you do move into this this role, there is going to be alignment not only in your values, but in a broader spectrum of things you look for in a role. And therefore the likelihood of job satisfaction is somewhat higher. Would that be your takeaway as well? 

0:33:18.4 DR: Yeah, the whole purpose of that values test or assessment, or just the assessment overall, is to hopefully improve your levels of job satisfaction.

0:33:27.4 WB: Yeah.

0:33:27.5 DR: And ultimately it’s also just to make it more likely like that you’re going to be happy. Because there are other pieces of job satisfaction. Your mentality towards work being a huge piece of that. Emotions can derive from your situation, but you make the choice on what you want to dwell on, and what you want to really focus your energy on. And so if you choose to be angry at your boss, or to think that they’re an idiot, or choose to be frustrated with the department that’s not responding to your email, or to choose to think that the person sending you an email at 7 o’clock at night is rude, even though it’s your choice to read the email. Again, we’re curating our own environment that can lead to negativity. Now, there are other pieces of job satisfaction. So value alignment, the actual work you’re doing. We need to feel that we can do the actual work, that we’re confident at the work that we do. We also need to feel that it’s slightly challenging, that we’re slightly learning and growing. We need to feel that we have social relationships that we care about, people that we respect. For some people that’s people that they can learn from. And then we also need to feel that our work is meaningful. And a lot of the basis of these is our own mentality and mindset towards work.

0:34:41.8 WB: Anything else that we should be aware of when it comes to finding your ideal career? Anything we haven’t spoken about so far that we should be talking about? 

0:34:51.9 DR: I was working with someone a little bit earlier in their career today, and they were frustrated because their job was going to be a little bit more administrative than they wanted. And this person was very early on in their career. And we have to see the path forward. We have to be less concerned about getting someone coffee than we currently are, than having a seat at the table. A seat at the table comes from doing really good work and sharing your ideas, speaking up in meetings, scheduling meetings with higher-ups and senior leaders and skip-level managers. It doesn’t have to be given to you to be created. And we also have to put in our time. And we’ve gotten to a point… And I am someone that has been in this spot too, where we’re not patient enough for that senior-level role. We have to give ourselves that time. And we have to honor the fact that sometimes just getting a seat at the table might also just have to do with the years you have in the company and the respect that you’ve earned from all the people around you. And so please give yourself a little bit more time, be a little bit more patient. And instead of waiting to be given a seat at the table, do things to earn it.

0:36:14.3 WB: Perfect. And where do people reach out to? 

0:36:17.2 DR: Well, first add me on LinkedIn, Dr. Benjamin Ritter. I’m the one based in Austin, Texas. If there are any others that you find, I should be the only one. And then go to liveforyourselfconsulting.com to get that free guide that we talked about today and get added to our newsletter, because we’re regularly releasing media that we’re on, as well as other updates and tidbits that you might enjoy.

0:36:42.6 WB: Any closing words of wisdom for the listeners, what they can do to improve their career role? 

0:36:49.7 DR: For all the leaders listening, please keep in mind that the most important leader is the one that lives inside you, nobody else. You’re the one that makes your mind up, that feels the things that you feel, that believes the things you believe. And so serve yourself, be the best leader that you can, be the leader that you’d like to work for. And also keep in mind that the same thing goes for your team. You’re not responsible for the work they produce, you’re not responsible for how they feel. You are responsible, though, for creating an environment that is best suited towards them. So get to know the people that work for you and try to curate an environment that leans to their strengths as well as their goals in their career. And you’ve done your job.

0:37:26.0 WB: Fantastic insights in the conversation. Thank you for sharing.

0:37:30.0 DR: Thank you so much.

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0:37:32.7 S2: Thank you for joining us on The ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, ebooks, webinars, and blogs at coaching4companies.com.